I immediately fell in love with “Glee” when it hit the TV-waves five seasons ago on the Fox network. While I mostly enjoy the music – the creative mashups and the way that old songs become new again – I respect the show’s attempt to depict the challenges of the high school years; especially for teens who are perceived to be different.*
“Glee,” through the years and its characters, has tackled many serious issues that affect teenagers. One episode addressed the dangers of texting while driving. Another dealt with being rejected from colleges. There also was one that faced coming out to one’s parents. And others have confronted topics involving bullying, sex, teen pregnancies, OCD, dyslexia, etc.
Tonight, “Glee” focused on the loss of a classmate – quarterback and lead singer, Finn Hudson – played by actor Cory Monteith who died this summer from a lethal combination of alcohol and heroin. I never imagined how difficult it would be to watch actors deal with their genuine senses of loss and real-life emotions over losing a colleague while playing grieving characters on a TV show. But, I’m also disappointed that “Glee” didn’t do what it usually does well; it didn’t use Cory’s death as an opportunity to teach about the challenges and dangers of abusing drugs and alcohol. Despite my personal sentiments, the tribute itself was appropriate and respectable.
“Glee” makes me reflect upon my own high school years. At Clarkstown High School North, I wasn’t cool; I wasn’t pretty; I wasn’t athletic; I wasn’t in advanced or accelerated classes; I wasn’t popular; I wasn’t a leader; I wasn’t much of anything. I was an easy target for the “mean girls” and “cool kids” to pick on, but pretty much was invisible to almost everyone else. Thankfully, a handful of friends, a loving family, and a boyfriend got me through.
As an adult, however, I feel bad that I was oblivious to the real challenges that some others suffered through during those years. We didn’t celebrate diversity; we didn’t have guidance counselors who passed out leaflets on how to deal with a wide variety of situations; we weren’t politically correct; and we didn’t have “interventions.” My issues were nothing, for example, compared to a classmate who ended up committing suicide over his inability to deal with being gay. (Heck, I didn’t even know back then that he WAS gay!) I often wonder…would he be alive today if he had gone to high school in this day and age?
Today I’m connected on Facebook to many people who went to high school with me. And though we weren’t friends then, we are now. (It’s weird, but in a good way.) I find that I enjoy reading their posts, learning about the people they’ve become, and appreciating the lives they’ve been living all these years. Some of them even read, like, and comment on my weekly blog entries. They have no idea how much their engagement and feedback mean to me.
The me that I am today does not remotely resemble the me I was then. I bet many of my classmates would say the same of themselves. So what will today’s “Glee”- generation be like in a few decades?
* For those of you who don’t watch the series, the main characters include kids who are black, white, rich, poor, Jewish, Asian, Hispanic, gay, lesbian, popular, mean, athletic, geeky, transgender, developmentally and physically disabled.