I imagine that writing a weekly teen drama likens itself to preaching more than you think. You come up with this wonderful idea in theory, but in the week-to-week, the art of revealing the deeper level of reality becomes challenging. The challenge isn’t “more creativity” or gizmos or gadgets; those simply cover up the issue. Rather, it requires the hard work of uncovering feelings and emotions and then the truths behind them.
Which is why Glee welcomed me back to the club tonight. Finally, some depth in the presentation, not just choosing “hot topics.”
First, the obvious. Whitney. May those pipes (and her soul) rest in peace. Layering her tribute while allowing characters to grieve for future departures smoothed over all the drug-related, mistake-filled chatter that could have come and rather focused energies on something that our culture tends to glaze over: healthy grief. Allowing ourselves the opportunity to realize that a phase or a place has come to pass. Acknowledging our fears of moving forward – what will this look like?
Next, graduation. It’s rapidly approaching and seniors are getting some form of itis, but in their anxious talk of the unknown they leave in the wake those who have loved and cared for them up to this point. The scene of Burt & Kurt fighting sentimentality struck a chord. A parent spends all those years loving and supporting and encouraging; nights awake, arguments navigated, values instilled and suddenly you’re left with a mantle full of trinkets and certificates. I can’t name a single graduating high school senior that reads this blog (do they read any blogs? I’m so out of touch), but if they did, I’d jump through the screen and shake their little shoulders and say, “Be gentle! Your parents love you and this is hard on them, too!”
And don’t forget the support staff. Shoe’s scene of coming to realize how much he’d miss the students who allowed him to explore a deeper place of his own personhood could’ve led me to weeping. I’m sure every teacher has “that class.” Shoe retains the advantage of realizing with one month to go how he’s enjoyed – and can enjoy – these students. I hope everyone in the student-serving sector takes a time prior to graduation to really appreciate what their students have brought into their life. And in his fear that they won’t come back for his wedding, we catch a glimpse of what each of us deeply hope for: that somehow, somewhere, in someway, a speck of what had been created in terms of community will continue on. Which is why I get a bit teary when I see FB updates involving former students (AG, MK, DH) getting together with spouses and children for dinner. Or standing beside another at the front of a church for a wedding, 5 years later.
Now, the subthemes. I’ve been chomping at the bit to bring up the Token Christian Kid (which I feel probably made an appearance thanks to the large number of other demographics in the bunch). And, in observing a practice of highlighting stereotypes he’s: homeschooled, awkward about sex, dons hipster tattoos, and a desire to talk about faith in every other sentence. But I suppose I’ll give an E for Effort in that at least he has dreadlocks and seems genuine.
And the “texting as cheating” idea. Youth directors – in the words of Sugarhill Gang, jump on it! What a great convo starter. Because integrated in this little lover’s quarrel is the idea of body and soul (so use that scene from Token Christian Kid and Sam in the locker room. Full of fodder.), that love is much more than touch, kiss and sex. That relationships also have something to do with what a person does with your heart.
Whew. I think that about covers it. Except to say, fantastic closing scene. Who doesn’t love a good Whitney dance party?
*triple word score if you know from where the title emerged