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“Glee” reminds us we’re on the right track

Date: April 28, 2011 | Posted By:

The cast of "Glee" sings the praises of individuality in Tuesday night's "Born This Way" episode.

The cast of "Glee" sings the praises of individuality in Tuesday night's "Born This Way" episode.

I’m not what you would call a “Gleek.”

 

In fact, not at all. Sure, I’ve seen a couple of episodes of Glee, but am not by any means a regular viewer. But Tuesday night’s episode certainly made me want to watch it more. A lot more.

In the episode, titled “Born This Way” (named for the Lady Gaga finale number), Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) gets a broken nose. Her doctor suggests that this would be a good opportunity to get a nose job, telling her that rhinoplasty is a Jewish rite of passage. And furthermore, the operation may even help with her singing voice!

Rachel seriously considers the operation, but when she announces her intentions to the rest of the glee club, the idea is met with mixed reactions. Some characters insist that her nose is fine the way it is, while Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) turns the tables on everyone, challenging them to say that there’s nothing about themselves they would change.

Teacher and glee club director Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) is horrified, and changes the week’s lesson from dancing to acceptance. He encourages the members of the glee club to find something they were born with that they have to deal with and accept.

It’s not only physical “problems” that are addressed in the episode. Mental illness, dancing skills, intelligence, sexuality are other themes of acceptance that are painted in the same brushstroke.

This issue is also about role models, as the characters often remind us. Should you be looking up to someone just like you, or someone unattainable? Rachel’s idolization of Barbara Streisand eventually helps her to make a decision about her nose job, while Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz) decides that since there isn’t an appropriate Asian role model for her to look up to, she will become one herself.

It’s not new for Glee to tackle societal pressures on teens. In fact, it’s a recurring feature and one of the reasons it’s such a popular show. But that doesn’t make it any less important that the pressure in society about self-image is highlighted in a prime time show. The fact that these issues are taken on in such an intelligent way, with the addition of music and humor, makes them much easier to digest.

The characters end up taking ownership of their perceived flaws, and in most cases, embracing them. What impact do you think that an episode like this could have on the way we perceive our “flaws”?

Glee presents us with an exciting, encouraging, and unequivocal message to take away. That, in Lady Gaga’s words, you’re on the right track ’cause you were born that way.

See a clip from Tuesday’s episode below:

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Tessa




What Do You Think?

5 Responses to “Glee” reminds us we’re on the right track

  1. Ashley on 04-28-2011

    Not a fan of Glee but I like the message of the episode.
  2. Meagan on 05-01-2011

    This episode brought me to tears several times. I usually just catch the episodes online after they air, but I knew this would be something worth watching that night.
    It left me thinking of what I would put on my shirt.
  3. Kourtney L. on 05-02-2011

    I have never watched Glee, but hearing about this made me want to give it a try. Why don't more shows give a little more light to the idea of acceptance? It's easy to watch one show about acceptance and say "yes" they did it right, that makes me feel good! Versus the reality that many shows don't do that, but instead give ideals about how life should be, for example The Hills and Hollys World and the Kardasians.

    Giving a glorified view on how it is to be rich and famous gives nothing for a young girls positive self esteem.
  4. Hannah on 05-04-2011

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing! I've got some tivo'ed episodes to catch up on, and I don't want to miss this one :)
  5. Jamie on 05-07-2011

    Another great moment from glee was one of the episodes last season, where Mercedes is told that she needs to lose weight or be cut from the cheerleading squad. She then proceeds to try, only making herself sick and unhappy. The episode ends with her giving a speech to the entire school about how everyone is perfect how they are, and singing Christina Agulera's "I am Beautiful." Really touching.