First let me say that I haven’t really been watching this season of Glee. I caught up on a few episodes on the DVR, and it felt very strongly like a show holding on to the shark it just jumped.
So they did a school shooting episode. Before I watched it, all I’d heard was that it felt to blog readers like a stunt. Having finally seen it, I really agree.
The terror is very real for the students while they wait for the “all clear” and the aftermath feels true. I give the show this much credit; they’ve tapped into the experience on some level.
But it wasn’t a real shooting. That’s what doesn’t match up to reality.
Closer to reality would have been to have one of the Glee kids walk into the bathroom and be face-to-face with a student holding a gun, contemplating their next move (happened to a former coworker of mine.) Closer to reality would have been to have the kid in the texting relationship show up and be shot by a foe or jealous ex. Closer to reality would have been a random drive-by shooting. Closer to reality would have been a shooter blindly firing on students and faculty alike. Closer to reality would have been a student bringing a gun to school and never removing it from their backpack, so no one ever knows the gun is so close. Closer to reality would have been watching this happen to another school on TV, helpless and afraid.
Becky, a senior with Down Syndrome who is afraid to graduate and be on her own, brings a gun into the school and shows it to Coach Sue. She accidentally fires it once while handling it (believable–it happens), then drops it, causing an accidental discharge (not believable–most recently-produced handguns prevent this from happening. Some older models may be subject to this, but that’s an issue for the props department.)
Becky’s motivation for bringing the gun into the school just didn’t add up for me; she was afraid of the real world after high school. McKinley is her home, her safe place. It’s what’s out there that she needs the gun for. While most gun-related incidents aren’t exactly well thought-out, I just didn’t buy it. Why show it to Sue? Becky shares everything with Sue, they speak freely together–there was no reason for her fears to reach a crisis point.
If this episode had happened before Newtown, it would feel like an acceptable launching board for in-home discussion about guns and school shootings. But the proximity does, in fact, make it feel like a stunt (compounded by the fact that this episode was written, then filmed possibly months ago.) There will be no lasting implications or hanging heartache. That’s not reality. Glee isn’t exactly known for its believability, but if you try your hand at something very serious, you need to commit. And this episode didn’t.
Do I think the right answer would’ve been to have an actual shooting where a character (or many) is forever, definitely gone? No. But I don’t think this was the right way, either.