When TV is good for Teenagers

November 16, 2011
By Devi1sAdvocate SILVER, West Branch, Iowa
Devi1sAdvocate SILVER, West Branch, Iowa
9 articles 2 photos 10 comments

“By its very definition,Glee is about opening yourself up to joy.” This is one of the very first lines of the popular TV show Glee. While this may be true, joy is not the only thing that Glee is opening you up to.

Glee is a TV show first aired in May, 2009. It is about a Show Choir, or Glee Club and the kids who are in it, as they interact within an average high-school setting. Glee is currently in it's third season and the characters are preparing for the next big competition.

Photo credit: Jessica T., North Hills, CA
Author's comments about this article:
Written as a school assignment
It has grown in popularity and complexity as the show has progressed. Many wonder why this show is seen as something so incredible. I understand the confusion. While watching, you may find similar themes that are in most teen-comedies. It's full of inoffensive humor, with little grounding in reality. However, after watching Glee with a more analytical eye, you will find many underlying matters that have a deep grounding in today's society. This is why I, as a Gleek, think that it would benefit most teens to watch this series. As I see it, Glee has an opportunity to change the world. And what better way then through a fun TV show?

Many teens are unfamiliar with realistic homosexuality and bisexuality. In the very first episode, Glee showcases a flamboyant caricature of a gay student: Kurt. While Kurt is a total play on stereotypes and may not seem that special in the beginning, he opens up the show for deeper information. Later on through Kurt, you meet a closeted self-hating gay teen, a less flamboyant but more open gay kid who ends up dating Kurt, and two girls who struggle with the bisexual aspects of their friendship. Seeing all these things put in a humorous but veridical context really helps kids relate. In fact, Chris Colfer, the actor who plays Kurt, says he's had more than one fan approach him and tell him that his role really helped an individual deal with their own sexuality. Others have sent letters saying that Glee helped them see homosexuality in a new light. There is a mildly dramatized but still grounded view of homosexuality in current times, particularly in the high-school setting. Glee's approach to homosexuality is important for young people to see, it helps diminish ignorance and encourages tolerance.

Another thing Glee handles well is the usually taboo topic of teen-pregnancy. Throughout the first season, Quinn, a member of the Glee Club, struggles with her unwanted pregnancy. It handles this in a lifelike way as the teen tries to make ends-meet, find suitable adoption-parents, deals with being ostracized by her classmates, and figures out ways to get her parents support. Then, in the second season, it re-touches on teen sexuality/pregnancy with the “Sexy” episode. In that installment, Glee talks more about birth control and different ways to handle pregnancy. While some adults fuss about the “who's-the-father” aspect of Quinn's pregnancy, I think that it's important to show a teen being faced with the difficulties of maternity, while being relatable, witty, and discouraging without making it scary or preaching abstinence.

Another thing that Glee puts a spotlight on and that is a major theme of the show, is bullying in high-school and the struggle to fit in. The cliques and social classes are very realistic. When I went to public school, it was a lot like Glee portrays it. The way the teenagers in the show react to each other is believable too, including the negative interactions. Bullying is a huge part of it. Being in Glee Club makes all the people very unpopular, so they get picked on mercilessly. When some of the popular kids join, this divides the student body and breaks up the status quo. All the popularity and harassment that goes on in the show, takes place in real life. Thirty percent of high-school students are involved in bullying according to Family First Aid. Some kids that watch Glee may take to heart that this is a global problem and be happy to associate their negative high-school experiences with their favorite entertainment. Perhaps some bullies may even watch the show and rethink their lives.

While some may argue that Glee goes about expressing this in too explicit a way and that education should not be left to TV, I disagree. Learning young is the best way, and associating knowledge with fun times is sure to help the message stick in teen's heads better. In fact, on average this generation spends more time watching TV (15,000 hours per year) then they do in school (11,000) according to a study done by University of Iowa. People are so concerned with being taught good values in classroom settings, but one can get values that are just as good from TV shows like Glee too.

So if you find yourself bored watching irrelevent Jersey Shore or Skins, try out Glee!

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