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In defense of the ‘Glee’ school-shooting episode
Plenty of haters have surfaced after Thursday night’s “Shooting Star” episode of “Glee,” where a supposed school shooting was one of several storylines (and that, to me, was the big problem).
The A.V. Club gave the episode an F, calling it “a harrowing piece of exploitative trash.” Vulture said “the depths of the emotional manipulation are unforgiveable.” The Newtown Bee, understandably enough in the wake of the shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, felt like it hit too close to home.
TVWithoutPity, well, had no pity:
— TVWithoutPity (@TVWithoutPity) April 12, 2013
I actually liked the episode. Let me rephrase that. I liked one part of the episode: the part that dealt with the supposed school shooting. The Coach Beiste-in-heat, Lord Tubbington nonsense and the Manti Te’o catfishing crap (what? no time to work in a Lance Armstrong doping scandal storyline?) were trifling distractions that detracted from the heft of the shooting, which deserved to be the focus of the entire episode.
The supposed shooting (in which no one was actually shot) turned out to be the result of Becky bringing a gun to school because she’s afraid. Coach Sue took the fall for Becky in a hard-to-believe but extremely touching scene played perfectly by Jane Lynch. We didn’t know any of that until the end.
Rewind to the moments immediately after the shots were fired, and that was some riveting, tense, emotional TV. Mr. Schue shut off the lights and the kids hid in the choir room. A pot boiled over and a cell phone went unanswered as Marley’s mom, Millie, hunkered down in the school’s kitchen. Brittany took refuge in a toilet stall. The panic was palpable, thanks to some stellar acting by all involved. Artie took video of the kids saying heartfelt goodbyes to their parents. Manipulative? Exploitative? Maybe. But it was undeniably compelling and another vivid reminder — this time, fictional –that it shouldn’t take a tragedy to get us to say what you need to say.
“Glee” is a wildly erratic, imperfect show. Last night’s episode embodied that. (Ratings wise, it fared unusually well, leading the albeit soft competition in the key 18-to-49-year-old demo.) But I give it credit for tackling controversial, taboo subjects, even if it does it with all the grace of an awkward teenager.
What did you think of the episode?