For those of you who weren’t around in September or who don’t go back and read the majority of my posts, (the majority of you, I’m guessing. It was early days) back when the first episode of Glee: season four came out, I talked about my thoughts on the first episode. Mainly, how bloody worried I was that these fresh new faces would simply be used to fill the shoes left by those who had graduated. At some point in those early episodes, it did feel like Marley was just new Rachel, even with the storyline of liking a guy who is wanted by the cute blonde cheerleader. Ryder was a fresh faced, young Finn, Puckerman’s brother joined New Directions and seemed like a carbon copy of him and yet, despite all this, these new characters have actually come, fully, into their own. (I also mentioned how Rachel’s new beau was, possibly, the hottest guy yet to be on the show, so here’s a picture of him for you to stare at for a few seconds before continuing.)
SPOILERS FROM HERE
I’ve always felt that, in a way, Glee has tried to tackle issues that affect teenagers today. A lot of what they deal with is stuff I didn’t even have to think about growing up, and the New Directions is always full of kids who have to cope with different things and who have to try to find happiness despite whatever they’re going through. With this new series, I think the creators have taken it up a notch. Those people who would have watched it when it first came out have grown up a fair bit now – I was in my first year at University, and I guess the main audience would have been a few years younger. But it feels like, rather than doing what Skins does and trying to aim at the same age group every series, Glee has managed to find a nice balance between keeping old viewers interested and still dealing with issues relevant to the same age group that would have started watching in the first place.
Right. Hopefully that all makes sense.
Glancing around online, I picked up on something. Glee moved, this series, to 9pm in the USA. Now, I’m just going to go ahead and assume that, like in the UK, 9pm acts as a watershed. As in, it’s the time when kids should be in bed and if they’re not, you should be careful in picking what they’re watching on TV. It’s a time when slightly more adult themes can be explored by shows, when films dealing with 15+ subject matters can be shown. So, to me, Glee moving to this time means the creators, maybe, are now able to look at subjects that they are more interested in, subjects which can be more adult in tone. And it means Glee isn’t just for kids. Not anymore.
Nothing really emphasis that more than series four’s eighteenth episodes, Shooting Star.
Until then, Glee had already dealt with students coping with their sexuality, coping with issues over gender, and, over in New York, male prostitution. We’ve seen these kids grow and mature, and even the new, younger cast seem older than the original New Directions members when they were the same in-show age. Relationships, love, death…it feels like, as an audience, and I think especially if you’re older than these kids like I am, we’ve almost held their hands through it. We’ve rooted for them, and smiled when they break into song. I mentioned in my previous post that it’s one of the happiest shows on TV. And despite the issues brought to light in this series, it’s remained that way.
Until Shooting Star.
It starts off pretty normally. Britney thinks the world is going to end, Ryder finds out whoever he has been chatting too online is using a picture of another student. They sing, they dance, Coach Beast makes a random move on Mr Schu, and they gather together when Britney realises the asteroid she saw on her telescope is a dead ladybug, to celebrate the world not ending. Yay! Everyone’s happy and…
And at this point, I was a bit spun out. I mean, it was only about halfway through the episode, but it felt like the end, and then, bam.
Everyone in the choir room – New Directions minus Britney and Tina, Mr Schu and Coach Beast – spring into action. The kids find hiding places, the teachers try to keep them calm as the lights go off and the tension rises. It’s an abrupt change, out of the blue, and instantly I knew who had fired that gun. Part of me was doubting it was a gun, that there must be some mistake, but as it goes on, I thought Becky. It made sense to me. But only because of her moment with Brit earlier in the episode, where she states how scared she is of the real world. She doesn’t want to leave the school, and I figured…not that she would shoot anyone, but that something had happened and she was part of it.
I didn’t know what to think. Like I said, at first I really did think it was going to be a misunderstanding, but the whole thing is done really well. I saw some things online saying it was too much, it was too soon, that it was too out of the blue. But…when is something like this ever not going to be too soon? And from what I’ve seen, even if the threat isn’t huge, it’s something that kids now may actually think about more, might just be scared of, and, again, Glee tackles issues teenagers face. So why not tackle something like reactions to this?
It’s powerful, and the actors involved really show their talents here. They manage to capture fear and horror, and show what it might be like to think you could be facing your last few moments. After I finished watching it, I looked it up online to try to find some reactions. Most articles I came across condemned it, but it was the comments I found most interesting. Quite a few said they thought it was a really good episode, and with that I have to agree. But…well, I guess I’m sort of more detached than US viewers from this. It’s hard for me to know what it might be like to think this could happen at your local school, whether you attend it or your kids do, but from that POV I thought Glee dealt with it well. Out of the blue, yes, but then again this sort of thing would be out of the blue.
Some people were slating it on the basis of Ryan Murphy pushing his own agenda. Right. To that I say, piss off. If you create a TV show and manage to get it aired, and it’s successful and people watch it then you sure as hell are allowed to put your own ‘agenda’, as they call it, into the show. Come on! What sort of person thinks that someone who has created something won’t have their own slant on certain issues, that may come out in it? I don’t see it as an issue. Really. Behind every TV show there is going to be someone who has their own political leanings, and they may not come out in said show or film or novel or music, but there’s no reason to criticise if something slips in there. Plus, it’s not exactly an issue Murphy has shied away from in the past. In fact, one of his most oddly endearing characters was one who was behind a school shooting. I say oddly endearing because Tate was a monster. But he was also a confused kid who at times didn’t really seem to know what he was doing. Don’t base any complaints on Glee’s Shooting Star on ‘OMG he has an AGENDA how DARE that lefty liberal tackle GUN ISSUES he wants to take away our GUNS’.
Okay. Sorry. I can understand why some people would take issue with the episode. For starters, it’s called Shooting Stars. That’s just…stupid. Seriously. Any other title would have been better! And yes, the next episode the characters go back to their normal lives. But it doesn’t feel like it’s pushing an anti-gun message. In fact, it feels much like what I mentioned in my previous post; that guns might just be too accessible to people who shouldn’t have them.
Becky is a scared kid who wants to defend herself. She doesn’t shoot anyone. She doesn’t aim the gun at anyone. It goes off by accident and Coach Sue takes the rap. The kids come to terms with what’s happened and do what they always do; they lean on each other for support.
I liked the episode. I think it was done well. It was emotional, and engaging, and you could feel the fear of these kids. It’s a musical show, but there were no songs (obviously) during the shooting segment. Instead, the choir room is completely silent, except for the sounds of crying and the metronome ticking away. It’s a relief when Will grabs it, and the whole section was contrasted with the usual bubbly atmosphere of the show. It tackled a very real issue and I think it can only be a good thing if teenagers watch it and begin to discuss it. Because, although it’s not something they will hopefully come across, it is something that could be talked off, something they can, maybe, come to terms with, if Glee helps act as a sort of starting point. And that, at the end of the day, is a pretty damn good agenda to have.
Now, to cheer you up, just…enjoy Sam for a few seconds.
If you say episode 18, what did you think? Actually, even if you didn’t, any thoughts on whether or not Glee should have tackled this issue? As always, I’d love to hear them.