Now in its third season, Fox’s Glee has tackled a wide array of taboo subjects in its own jaunty, musical way. Bullying, teen pregnancy, drugs, and alcohol, and, of course, homosexuality. While it would be foolish to think that a show with a gay head writer and a cast made entirely of former broadway performers wouldn’t have a homosexual element, the show’s favoring of homosexuality as the cause-du-jour is anything but subtle, arguably becoming the main theme of this season.
The series, however, went to new heights—or lows, rather—in Tuesday’s episode to prove a point that I’m still not quite sure of. The recent episode, aptly titled “The First Time,” featured two teenage couples—Finn and Rachel (or ‘Finchel’ to the true Gleek,) along with Kurt and Blaine, a gay couple—having sex for the first time.
The episode itself was an innuendo-filled lead-up to the big moment, where the two couples consummated their teenaged love while singing a ditty from West Side Story (as we all do) by a romantic, electric fireplace.
The clichéd media build-up to this episode would be comical if it weren’t so fear inducing. Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy said, “It says to a lot of young gay people who are confused and ashamed that you can get love and are worthy of love.” Entertainment Weekly’s Tim Stack said, “I can’t think of another network series that’s taken a teenage gay relationship so far or been so progressive,” adding that it’s “incredibly moving.”
MTV rejoiced that the particular couples “will FINALLY get it on.” (Let’s not forget that it was only a year ago that MTV blurred the lines between art and child pornography with the North American version of the British sex-based show, Skins.)
Murphy asserts that the scene in question is handled “delicately,” but fails to understand that the issue is the theme itself, not the cinematography. Take the sexual orientations of the characters out of the equation, and it’s still grossly inappropriate that a network (and the media circus supporting them) revels so greatly what is sees as a trail-blazing moment. Teens shagging in prime time, that is.
References to sexuality in plotlines involving teens as a reality of life is acceptable—sometimes necessary, actually. However, a culture that praises ‘brave’ and ‘courageous’ producers for including anal sex in a story’s arc is a culture that values shock over substance.