Glee Tackles Domestic Violence, Abusive Relationships, Bullying and Prejudice

WARNING

All About Glee

I am a big fan of the hit television musical show Glee and I have been ever since it first premiered. It's not just because I love musicals and it's not just because I enjoy the theme. One of the main reasons why Glee is one of my favorite television shows is because it presents a lot of the big issues that many people are dealing with today.

These issues are very important to me as a mother of two young daughters. Though I don't let them watch it since it's a bit too grown up for them, I do talk to them about some of the lessons that it teaches. I hope that I can raise children who will not contribute to these social issues and will, in fact, help bring an end to it through compassion, understanding and responsibility.

Some of the issues that Glee addresses are very prevalent these days because they're becoming more and more of a problem. A few examples are cyberbullying, teen suicides, prejudice, alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, domestic abuse, discrimination and more.

Bullying, Cyberbullying and Suicide

Bullying is a very important theme woven throughout the entirety of Glee. Many episodes from the very first season to the most recent episode have at least one instance of bullying. Bullying has probably been an issue since the prehistoric age, but the public awareness is at an all time high these days due to some very extreme instances which made headlines. It seems like there are news stories popping up all of the time reporting that someone was brutally beaten by a gang of bullies or a teen has committed suicide over bullying either in person or over the internet.

SEASON 3 SPOILER

The 14th episode of Season 3, "On My Way," is probably the most intense episode to date. There are many instances in the entire series where Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) deals with bullying from Dave Karofsky (Max Adler) because Kurt is gay. He gets bullied by plenty of other kids, but Dave is the biggest problem. In fact, it gets so bad at one point that Chris has to transfer schools. Later on we find out that Dave is actually gay which is why he lashed out at Kurt so badly.

In this specific episode, Dave is forced out of the closet and becomes the target of bullying and cyberbullying. In fact, it gets so brutal that he tries to hang himself. Thankfully, the suicide attempt fails. Near the end of the episode, Kurt visits him in the hospital and they have an incredibly moving scene together where Kurt shows him that he can rise above it all.

END OF SPOILERS

Honestly, this show broke my heart. I'm getting a little teary just writing about it. I absolutely hate how people use the internet and social media as a platform to be hateful and nasty just because they can be anonymous and they don't actually have to face the person. Some might say to suck it up since it's just words, but that's not fair. Not everyone can deal with text any better than they can spoken words or physical actions. Just because someone else can doesn't mean that everyone should be able to.

Prejudice and Acceptance

Prejudice is still alive and well today and is prevalent in many schools across the nation if not the world. People that are different are often ostracized, abused and and put down. It's incredibly difficult to be a teen that is a minority in their class because of their sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, weight, disabilities, etc.

In Glee, we see gay characters that are shunned by their peers and even some of their family. There is an episode that shows the kids dealing with insecurities over their appearances with Mercedes (Amber Riley) trying to eat as little as possible to lose weight regardless of her own health. Another episode highlights the insecurities teens feel about their bodies that includes a story line that revolves around Rachel's (Lea Michele) desire to get a nose job so that she would be more accepted by the general public. This particular episode includes a very moving mash up of the songs 'I Feel Pretty' and 'Unpretty' performed by Rachel and Quinn, played by Dianna Argon.

The only way to combat prejudice is by teaching acceptance. The best thing that we can do is to work hard to teach our children acceptance while their minds are still open so that they can grow to be open to all types of people. This can be a reality if we make it happen. Maybe it won't be this generation or the next, but it will be the norm one day. There are a lot more people aware and proactive about these issues than there were ten years ago and I feel like it's a snowball rolling downhill. It's in our future, I'm sure of it.

Abuse: Verbal and Physical

SEASON 3 SPOILER

Episode number 18 in the third season is titled "Choke" and it focuses on physical abuse, specifically the domestic kind. Fans may recall that Coach Beiste (Dot Jones) and Cooter Menkins (Eric Bruskotter) got married earlier in the series. We really don't hear much about their relationship after that until this episode when we learn that Cooter hit Coach Beiste during an argument over as simple a thing as neglected housework. While her family and friends, including the female glee club members, urge her to leave and seek help, Beiste ultimately forgives him and goes back home. I don't yet know where this story line will lead since this is as far as I have gone in the season at this point.

END OF SPOILERS

Anyone that has seen Glee should already know that the character Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) is verbally abusive to pretty much everyone that crosses her path. She goes out of her way to call them names, make fun of them, sabotage them and otherwise put them down. Glee obviously intends for us to feel sympathy for her character in many episodes while allowing her to be such an abusive woman through the whole series. There are episodes where it's focused on and used as a learning opportunity for viewers, but it's still something that's frequently glossed over. Sue has become kinder over time and it seems like the other characters are helping her overcome the things in her life that cause her to lash out the way that she does. So, instead of doing one episode based on verbal abuse, the issue is slowly dealt with over time through her character's evolution.

Final Thoughts

As I stated earlier, Glee features a lot of different issues aside from those that I listed above. This hub would be 15 miles long if I went over every one of them in detail. The ones that I mentioned are all sort of related, though. Glee has never shied away from putting social issues out there and I believe that it will continue doing so. I applaud this show and its creators for being so bold and not tiptoeing around it.

If you are a parent and believe that your child will never have to deal with these things, you could be doing them a huge disservice by not taking the time to educate them on how to cope just in case you are wrong. I always believe that it's far better to be proactive than reactive, especially when it comes to arming our children for the future. We can't ever know what life is going to throw at them and we won't always be able to fix every problem that they face. There are some wounds that a bandage just won't heal.

Not only is it important to teach them how to deal with such things, it's also important to teach them not to be the cause. Acceptance and understanding are virtues that can be taught at an early age or even later on in life. If we are ever going to have a brighter and more open minded future, we have to start now. It's the generations to come that will make this world a better place and it's up to us to get the ball rolling.

Finding Help

If you or someone you love is dealing with any of these issues, check the links above. You may also wish to visit the Help Line Center to find additional resources.

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