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Glee-fully mistaken

Posted By: Elizabeth Miller
- Glee is a show about high schoolers, but that doesn’t mean it’s a show for high schoolers. It’s not even a show that features high school-age actors, which makes the recent fuss from the Parents Television Council over the GQ cover shoot and their use of the term “pedophilia” a little over the top.

GQ depicted several of the cast members (all of whom are in their 20s) in underwear or bits and pieces of sports uniforms and schoolgirl outfits on a backdrop of lockers and school desks. It’s not the most tasteful thing, sure, but this is GQ we’re talking about. It’s not the kind of magazine you’d pass your teenager for some after school reading.

Nor, for that matter, is Glee the kind of show you’d pass to your teenager to watch unsupervised.

Glee regularly deals with the typical high school drama, sure, but these issues are addressed in a mature tone. One of the main characters regularly, and somewhat eloquently (if dramatically), discusses the troubles of being gay in high school. Another refers to her “dads.” Dance routines and costumes have pulled from some of the more delightfully scandalous Britney Spears music videos and Lady Gaga costumes. They talk about the troubles of expressing themselves, fitting themselves into a world that seems very much dictated by other people’s rules. No doubt these are issues teenagers face, but are they really issues teenagers are prepared to see replayed on screen?

Supposing they are — supposing those occasionally moralizing moments on Glee are meant to be like the lessons from the after school specials (and not satirical jabs at the enduring culture of teen-dom), then they need what those after school specials were framed with: an adult voice for some explanation. An intrepid parent could use an episode to spark some of those tougher conversations about bullying, fitting in, or accepting life on the outs.

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But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest the show is meant as an opportunity to get a little nostalgic about high school, and laugh at issues it’s usually impossible to laugh at when you’re in the middle of them. It’s for people out of high school and still trying to cope with the experience. Not convinced? Their Oct. 26 will spoof The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Think that’s a reference many 18-year-olds are going to get? As if.

Rocky Horror came out in 1975. These kids were born in the ’90s.

Parents Television Council president Tim Winter insists they’ve been deceived, that Glee has been masquerading as a family show and that this photo shoot just proves the show is going to continue to be inappropriate for young viewers.

The news release ( with that statement from Winters also references Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s appearance on Bravo, in which he stated he intends to push sexual boundaries for broadcast television. And that begs the question as to why — after that statement from Murphy and the Britney covers and the use of language like “faggy”— it’s only now that the PTC thinks Glee has crossed the line.

Maybe it’s easy to get confused about the nature of the show. Parents see cute high schoolers singing show tunes and think it’s all going to be fluffy bunnies from here out. But the show isn’t beating around the cottontails, and watching one full episode of the show is probably enough to make that clear.

And if you’re a parent who’s not watching at least one episode of the shows your kids are watching, that’s your bad. Not Glee’s.

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