Last week I got some flak from a certain J.B. for not writing about the “Sexy” episode of Glee (S02 E15). After my initial reaction (Hey, people actually read this?), I realized that she was right and that it was a pivotal episode in an otherwise uneventful season. So today I plan to write about something notable that occurred in both last week’s episode and this week’s episode, “Original Songs.”
In last week’s episode, Santana reveals her strong feelings for space case Brittany. Although this pairing is unlikely, it draws attention to the importance of recognizing same-sex relationships on television. It’s especially crucial to remember that Glee airs on FOX, a station that’s not exactly known for its avant-garde programming. A quick scan of the today’s offerings in a particular Mid-Atlantic town reveal repeats of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and a four-hour block of court shows (For those of you still wondering, yes, Judge Judy is going strong).
Glee is an anomaly among the decidedly middlebrow fare that tends to appear on FOX. At surface level alone, it’s a show about high school students who break out into spontaneous expressions of emotion conveyed via song. Not exactly a money-maker, right?
But somehow Glee has become wildly successful across a variety of demographics. Glee is one of those rare shows that parents and tweens can watch together, and surprisingly, no one is moved to claw out his or her eyeballs during Rachel’s high notes. I’m doubtful that the same could be said about Miley Cyrus’ peculiar brand of Disney Channel scream-acting (apologies to my Canadian readers for an NBC link).
When we consider the scope of Glee, its balanced and realistic depictions of same-sex relationships in high school become even more important. Rather than relegate a gay kiss to a melodramatic smooch between two consenting adults on a daytime soap opera, Glee gives us the natural progression of a friendship between two underage high school students that just happens to culminate in a kiss, and on primetime television too!
I’m sure thousands of bored housewives enjoyed a fleeting moment of arousal during the passionate face-mashing of As the World Turns, but thousands more middle-school and high-school students realized that there’s nothing wrong with being gay during last night’s episode of Glee. In the midst of a completely ludicrous show where characters emote through song, Glee finds a way to naturalize, and perhaps normalize, gay relationships. Kids learn to accept gay relationships the same way they accept gingers and four-eyes (hey, change is slow!), and adults who may have engaged in intolerant speech are forced to re-think their positions. One can only hope that little Piper Palin is an unrepentant Glee fan. Stay tuned!