Glee Goes All the Way… Again

This week Doug Fields posted an article of mine on his blog encouraging parents to use the “pause button,” the “fast forward button”… and even the “off button” on their TV remotes as they co-view media with kids. Which button does Fox’s Glee require?

This week Glee featured two of the show’s teenage couples each losing their virginity, a homosexual couple (Kurt and Blaine), and a heterosexual couple (Finn and Rachel).

Parents that took time to even notice the show’s content this week are debating the appropriateness. The PTC is outraged (as always), and articles are beginning to emerge asking relevant questions, like this article from Time, What Teen Sex on Glee Really Teaches Kids.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Glee address the subject of teenagers losing their virginity. In the 15th episode of Season One, an episode titled “The Power of Madonna,” Glee introduced the same scenario when three couples faced the decision to lose their virginity (the episode was watched by 12.98 million American viewers and was critically acclaimed). After a dream sequence performance of Madonna’s Like a Virgin, two of these teenagers took the plunge and “went all the way” (Finn and Santana), while others didn’t (Rachel, for example).

At this point some parents began questioning whether Glee was appropriate viewing for teens and tweens. Instead of giving a dogmatic stamp of approval or disapproval, I responded with a rather detailed Youth Culture Window article, To Glee or not to Glee, encouraging parents to think biblically about Glee and look for biblical guidance.

Interestingly enough… parents continued to ask me, “Do you let your kids watch Glee?”

That’s a great question.

I’ll be honest. I don’t usually like to tell parents, “Let your kids watch SHOW A, but don’t let your kids watch SHOW B!” This robs parents the opportunity to teach discernment and robs kids the opportunity of learning to discern for themselves.

Yes, there are some shows that clearly necessitate the “off button,” shows like Jersey Shore and Two and a Half Men. But discernment isn’t always that easy. What about shows like American Idol? (a question I asked in the article Doug posted)

Ever since Little House on the Prairie left prime time, teaching discernment has grown a little more difficult during family hour on television. In a world where Two and a Half Men is repeatedly the #1 show of the week, and Jersey Shore is the #1 cable show, caring parents are hard-pressed to find anything appropriate to watch with their kids.

Sadly, I see two polar extremes rise to the surface:

  • The Overly-Permissive Parent—this mom let’s her kids do anything, watch anything, stay out as late as they want… after all, they’ve gotta grow up sometime! “If you’re gonna drink with your friends, do it here! Then at least you’ll be safe!” These kids don’t just watch Jersey Shore, they watch the sexually explicit and gratuitously violent True Blood on HBO. These kids never learn to discern; they are taught the subtle message that “everything’s okay.”
  • The Puritanistic Parent—this mom doesn’t let her kids do anything! No TV, no music (“especially not that Contemporary Christian… the devil’s music!), skirts will go down past the ankles, after all, “This isn’t the house of Jezebel!” These kids don’t watch anything at home… they sneak to their friends houses to watch it! (I listen to the complaints of these kids all the time at camps and conferences across the country!) The puritanistic parent never teaches their kids to discern. They hope that protecting them from the world will save them from it. Sadly, when these kids turn 18, they often rebel and “sew their wild oats.”

Do we have to gravitate toward either of these extremes?

Funny… after Doug posted my article about parents using the remote, we started to see comments and receive emails from parents saying, “Kids are gonna watch what they’re gonna watch!” And then from the opposite end of the spectrum… “The TV stays off at our house!!!”

Are these really our only two choices?

It’s growingly difficult to teach our kids positive media decisions today, and shows like Glee really put the pressure on parents. Young people love the show and hear about it around every corner. After all, it’s very well done and it speaks to their world. Heck… adults love the show! The guest stars are usually a big draw, the writing is compelling and the music is usually amazing. It was the number two show at the 8 o’clock hour again this last Tuesday night. Let’s be honest. It’s difficult to be the only parent at the PTA meeting that doesn’t let their kids watch the show.

So do I cave and let my kids watch it?

Last year, during the writing of my first article, To Glee or Not to Glee, I watched the whole season in about one week’s time (I don’t like to write about something I haven’t seen first hand). During that week my girls would walk in and say, “Oh wow! Is this Glee?!! Can I watch it with you!” I never said “no” to them during that week. We probably watched at least three or four episodes together, often hitting the pause button to dialogue about what we saw.

When Season 2 began, I watched a couple episodes with my wife, curious of the direction that the show would go.

Yes… my kids and I had some great discussions about some of those Season One episodes. Yes, co-viewing media with our kids is a very good practice… but where is the line? Should I rent all the American Pie films and co-view those with my kids?

I’ll make an exception this time and tell you what I decided with Glee. This doesn’t mean it’s the right answer, I’m sure opinions will vary, I can’t even say I’m always consistent…. but as for me, Glee gets the “off button” in our house.

What about you?
What have you decided about Glee?

How do you set realistic guidelines while still preparing our kids for real-world decisions when they’re on their own?

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over a dozen books including the new Get Your Teenager Talking, The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the 10-Minute Talks series. Jonathan speaks and trains at conferences, churches and events across North America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.
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7 Responses to Glee Goes All the Way… Again

  1. Jon forrest says:

    I am a 38 year old, overweight, heterosexual, ultra-conservative youth pastor from Nashville. Not exactly Glee’s target audience member. But honestly the singing is great and the characters are easy to like (and I’d like to say the costumes are fabulous but purhaps that’s too far) It’s obviously an easy show for me to bash. My 18 year old girls at church, love it. Their facebook status will be “glee <3". And I'lll talk to them later, to see what they loved, and they will gush about the songs and routines. Then I'll say, what about (insert over the top aspect of the week here). and they say, "oh, I know that was kind of bad. But I watch it for the music." Over the years, I've loved the word "DESENSITIZED." But I don't think that is the best word any more and I have my own issue with it on another channel.

    I am A&E and Discovery channel's target audience. My wife loves Sister Wives about the mormon man with 4 wives. I watch it with her and this is crazy but I have found myself internally cheering for this family. A&E is also starting a show called, I think, American Muslim. It's obviously about people who are muslims and their day to day trials in America. This channel seems to be about "normalizing" these lifestyles. And it works …..on me! And that is what is wrong with shows like glee. It normalizes behavior that if one of my 18 year old girls read about on paper would say, "that's awful." As a matter of fact, I read your article on Rihanna and was appalled by your description. I did a lesson on it and as I watched the video a few times to get a better idea of the message, it became less repugnant. I didn't get to the point of cheering for them to get back together, but I certainly became more sympathetic to her character.

    I digress. No to glee because of what it normalizes.

  2. Lisa says:

    Glee officially is banished from our house after this episode … and our 16-year-old agrees with me. She is pretty grossed out by the whole direction the show is taking. I told her I’d watch this episode and decide then if it was worth her watching; I promptly deleted it from the DVR. I do hate that she won’t be seeing the “I Like to be in America” number, thought – it was great!
    But what really set me off was the week before, when Finn and Shelby – a teacher at their high school – kissed at the end of the episode. I’m a public high school teacher. We see on the news on a regular basis teachers arrested for having sex (or other inappropriate activities) with their students, and Glee stoops to this?
    No Glee at my house. Not anymore.

  3. Marie says:

    I started to watch Glee during it’s first season because of the music and dancing.
    With each episode it becomes increasingly difficult to watch. I think the show has become the spokesperson for homosexuality. I’m sure there are other subjects that
    can be explored on the show besides this! I have given up Glee! Each episode is a rerun of the same subject matter.

    • Emily says:

      The point is is that Glee relates to teenagers. Homosexuality is a big issue with lots of teens. I think it is the spokesperson for homosexuality because a lot of teens *are* killing themselves over being told that it’s wrong to be gay and feel that if they have those feelings their families and friends will either kill them themselves or abandon them that much that they will feel as alone as if they were dead. I think teens need to know that loving who you want to love is okay – and Glee does this beautifully

  4. Porsha says:

    I love Glee. I have been hooked on Glee since before it was popular for you to like it. It makes me sad to know that some of our loved characters will be gone after this season, but nevertheless it is still one of my favorite shows. With that being said, I have to be real. Even though I love this show I feel that a lot is missing. Where are the African American actors? When can I see a African American actor on this show? I see so many white actors that look great and stand out in all of their gloriousness, but when can that light shine for a African American? This takes me back to when I was so in love with Friends. Why couldn’t any of them have a black friend?. Lol…. I don’t think that we will ever see a African American on Glee that can blend in. I love the cast, but lets be honest, the only overweight person in the group is the black girl and when will we ever see a black mail that can sing and dance on the show. We all know that he is out ther, but will they cast him? I know the world is tired of normal, but when has a Afriacn American ever been normal on this show. We see a wide arange of nice figured, very atractive, lead white characters in the show. The only time we have seen an African American was when they were over weight, not important in the script, or we didn’t know they were even black. I long for the day when I can see a normal black teenager on Glee, but I know that day will never come. With Glee, only white teenagers can have differnet voices. I would hate to call the show racist because I love it so much, but what is the alternative. When I see a pretty or handsome black girl/boy on Glee that can sing I will be happy. But all of us know that it will never happen. Glee is made up of three differnt white girls, six differnt white boys, a half black girl that every one thinks has some mexican in her, two asia Americans, and a overweight black girl that can sing very well. That is crazy. I love this show, but if they don’t stop being so one sided and show some real truth I don’t know if I will even watch it in the future. This is just my opinion about Glee. I watch this show every week, but I can’t help but have questions about it. I bet you money that from now until the show ends that you will never see a atractive, or smart, or well adjusted, and athletic African American male that can really sing and dance on Glee. And if it does some how happen, this person will never be a major star on the show. I will say the same for a black girl (that looks black) and is very atractive and can sing and dance as well. It will never happen. Eben though we see so many differnet types of white students that are all stars on the shown, the same will nevr go for African Americans.. With that being said, I will continue to watch the show because I love it, but a samll bit of me will always feel bad because I won’t ever see truth in it.

  5. Pingback: Glee-ing All The Way…Again! « Here and There…

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