Glee. Glee. Glee. You’ve done it again. You’ve managed to teach me a valuable lesson while simultaneously reminding me how much I love TLC’s 90s hit “Unpretty.” After school specials must be worrying you will render them unnecessary, just like Netflix did Blockbuster. You had 90 minutes on Tuesday, and used nearly every scene and character to make teens (and 20 something’s like me) feel better about themselves.
Yes the episode meandered, oscillated between what’s right and wrong, good and bad. However, in the end it successfully delivered a powerful message on three separate issues, combined ever so poignantly with a rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way.” (Welcome back, Kurt).
Once again, I found myself wishing the Ad Council and Glee could join forces and replicate VH1’s beloved and retired “Pop Up Video,” by inserting bubbles above the characters heads with relevant websites viewers can visit to learn more about the issues. Let’s take a look at the three issues addressed last night and where these “pop up” moments could have occurred.
Driven by prom queen ambitions, Santana devises a plan with Glee’s resident bully, Dave Karofsky, to get Kurt back in school. Dave will prove he has been rehabilitated, Kurt will feel safe returning to McKinley, and Santana will be labeled a saint. And sainthood combined with her undeniably good looks will put her on a one way flight to Prom Queen-dom.
Even though Santana was extremely selfish in her endeavors, she still managed to show that bullying is not cool and should not be tolerated in schools. She also proved that with effective support and guidance from friends (even though in this instance it was insincere) bullies can stop bullying.
My “Pop Up Video” moment would occur when Dave is apologizing to the Glee team and promising a new Dave with a new attitude has been born. Above his head you would see “Learn more about the consequences of gay and lesbian teen bullying at ThinkB4YouSpeak.org.” Boom. Done. As simple as that.
2. Mental Illness:
It is time for the lovely Ms. Pillsbury to address her obsessive compulsive disorder. After several heartfelt conversations with Mr. Schuster, she decides to seek help. She goes back and forth with the psychologist, proclaims this is who she is and doesn’t want medicine or behavioral therapy to change her. But in the end she is convinced she deserves a chance to be her real self, which is currently being hindered by her disorder. Next week we should be seeing the effects of therapy and medicine.
My “Pop Up Video” moment would occur twice in the episode. The first would be when Mr. Shuster convinces Miss Pillsbury to seek help. Above his head you would see “Friends can make a big difference. Learn more about mental healthy recovery at whatadifference.samhsa.gov.” The second time would be when she is sitting in the psychologist office considering treatment. Above her head you would see “Anyone can experience mental illness. Learn more at whatadifference.samhsa.gov.” Boom. Done. As simple as that.
3. Self-Esteem/Self Image:
Every character confessed an insecurity last night, one they were ready to accept and embrace: Finn is uncoordinated, Mike Chang can’t sing, and Puck doesn’t always rely on the right organ to make decisions. But it was definitely Rachel’s insecurity over her nose and Quinn’s plastc surgery that made the biggest splash.
When I mentioned in the opener that the episode oscillated between what’s right and wrong, I was talking about this. On one hand we have Rachel, who after much doubting and a visit to the plastic surgeon realized she is beautiful the way she is, and would be stripping herself all “Rachelness” if she got a nose job. The message there is you should love yourself and not fall victim to societal pressures to look a certain way. Then we have Quinn, who revealed that her good looks were not simply the product of good genes. Instead of tarnishing her image, the revelation that she had a nose job and lost weight only made her more human, and more popular among the high school “commoners.” So is message there if you are that unhappy with something you can change it? I think yes. But I am okay with it if will really impact someone’s life. And aren’t we trying to eradicate labels and norms, what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s good, and what’s bad?
We also can’t forget Lauren Zizes, who rules the school and landed the handsome bad boy. The message there is beauty is in the eyes of the beholder (in this case Puck’s eyes), and confidence and self-esteem shouldn’t be derived from looks alone. I like that message too…a lot.
Okay so we have no campaign for this, but I felt their treatment of the issue was still worth noting, especially as Jewish female who walked away even more proud of my nose.
In summation, for me the episode did what it intended to do. Everyone was accepted in the end, and that is how is should be.
Too bad Mercedes already sang Christina Aquilera’s “Beautiful.” Would have really fit in last night.