I’ve been known to shed a tear (or in the case of “Funeral,” 4,000 tears) during “Glee.” I’m willing to admit some of those tears may have been more manipulated than earned (again, “Funeral”). The gods atop Mt. Glee often deliver messages to their masses via preachy melodrama that is intensified by popular music and scathing wit. They are not known for subtlety, which could perhaps be more engaging and less insulting to their audience.
But there are times when a booming, unmistakable outcry is actually the best way to communicate, which Ryan Murphy & Co. achieved with this week’s episode.
I don’t mind if my tears marked me as easy prey to a Very Special Episode. Nor do I think that one hour of television can instantly mend a state of deep-rooted social unrest.
But I do consider distressing events or issues to be fair game for exploration in art and entertainment. I’m glad the writers of a show set in an American high school acknowledged the recent teen suicide epidemic and contributed to the ongoing media conversation about it.
In “On My Way,” former WMHS bully Dave Karofsky became the victim of face-to-face and online harassment after a classmate blabbed about overhearing him profess his love to Kurt at Breadstix on Valentine’s Day.
Catch Up on Last Week’s Episode of “Glee”:
We later learned that his mom also rejected him for his sexuality, claiming he could be “cured.” After agonizing alone in his bedroom, he decided to hang himself. Fortunately his dad found him in time to save his life.
These scenes interspersed with Blaine singing Young the Giant’s “Cough Syrup,” were challenging to watch, which was obviously the point. The shot of his father finding him was unnecessary for me, but maybe it was the jolt that awakened someone else – like a parent – to an issue they’d been passively avoiding before.
Karofsky’s suicide attempt spurred varying yet similar reactions within our familiar group of faculty and students.
Schue shared a story of his own thoughts of suicide in high school after a shameful academic experience (he got caught cheating on an exam). The scenario may seem unimportant, but social pressure isn’t the only kind that can wear a teenager down. It was a great example of how each person’s biggest problem is just that – huge – to him or her. Schue encouraged everyone to think of experiences they could look forward to.
Kurt felt guilty for not answering Karofsky’s post-confession phone calls, so guilty that he turned to the God Squad for support. He eventually got to visit Karofsky in the hospital, and he passed on Schue’s advice to dwell on the happy times ahead.
Finn and Rachel decided that each day was too precious to spend not married to each other and bumped up their wedding to take place right after Regionals that weekend.
The only thing that didn’t work for me was the treatment of the villains, Sue and Scumbag Sebastian. Sue has been developed as a multi-dimensional character, so it made sense when she felt remorse and sadness. She’s not a robot. She’s even allegedly pregnant, which is possibly spurring her sudden (maternal?) desire to help ND win Nationals.
PS – I hereby place my bet that David Boreanaz is the baby’s father.
However, Sebastian has been presented as a total cyborg devoid of human feelings. I’m not saying people can’t be moved by a dramatic event, but his guilt over saying jerkish things to Karofsky extended so far that he dropped his scheme to win Regionals for the Warblers and went all smiley. I guess I can buy that it would take an actual near-death experience (as opposed to merely maiming Blaine) to pump some decency into the guy. But his instant transformation was unsettling, what with my undying need to hate him and all. Plus, even if he saw the light, I wouldn’t be mad at the glee kids for holding a grudge for like five minutes.
In the end, once Karofsky had an ounce of hope to cling to and New Directions had a new Regionals trophy to polish, all that was left was the Finnchel wedding at the courthouse. Their parents, led by Jeff Goldblum, maniacally plotted to stop the nuptials. Finn and Rachel were full speed ahead, except Rachel didn’t want to start without Quinn there.
Here’s where the foreshadowing happened for what the next regularly scheduled preachy episode will be about: texting and driving. Because Rachel and Q’s frantic text convo caused Q to miss the sight of a truck barreling toward her car, she got in a horrific accident. So now we have to wait until April to find out Quinn’s fate.
And there you have a heavy winter finale from “Glee” with relatively no sass from me. Instead of closing with my usual explosion of superlatives (such as how Brit’s wish to see Lord Tubbington kick his ecstasy habit was the best future goal), I’ll plug some organizations that you should check out if you’d like to be part of the movement to help real life kids like Karofsky.
You can donate money or volunteer your time at The Trevor Project, which doesn’t just provide crisis intervention, but where LGBTQ teens and young adults can find a safe and supportive online community. Visit http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ for more.
And Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation launches next week. Its focus will be education and research on anti-bullying and promoting self-confidence. Find more at http://bornthiswayfoundation.org/.