Keith McDuffe

The cast of Glee.

Renee Chaples, Producer of the Void

When it first aired in 2009, Fox’s show “Glee” sparked quite a conversation for itself. The show focuses on a ragtag band of high school misfits joined together by their choir director, Will Schuester. When together, the students who were generally seen as outsiders felt a sense of acceptance and pride. Unfortunately, the club was deemed uncool by fellow students and the members were more than often victims of bullying. The show was well known for the soundtrack and for the wide variety of heated political topics it tackles, such as LGBTQ matters, teen pregnancy, and even alcohol abuse.

A main focus for the show is the LGBTQ topics. Character Kurt Hummel, played by Chris Colfer, is introduced in the first episode as flamboyant and well-dressed. Due to his choices in fashion and interests, Kurt is often the victim of the football jocks’ homophobic remarks and physical assaults. However, the character does not come out as gay until the fourth episode in the first season. Alongside the homophobia Kurt faces, every male who joins the glee club is ridiculed for being “gay” even though most of the members are not. With this, the show reflects on the importance of acceptance and how a hostile school environment affects students. A particular event within the show exposes one of the football players responsible for the homophobic remarks as being gay himself. In this episode, Kurt encounters the jock in question while in the locker room. After a verbal fight, the jock threatens to physically hurt Kurt, but instead kisses him. Subsequently, Kurt is often threatened by the jock to keep his secret to a point where Kurt is forced to leave the school system, but he does eventually return.

In addition to the recurring themes of Kurt and his issues with homophobia, the show also introduces lesbian characters, bisexual characters, and transgender characters. All of them have their own subplot that intertwines within the main plot of the show.

Although not usually reoccurring, the other themes tackled often had a show or sometimes a season dedicated to them. The struggle of teen pregnancy is a focus point for the show’s very first season. When the school’s queen teen Quinn Fabray discovers her pregnancy, she is first to step down for her head cheer-leading position and joins the glee club with her current boyfriend Finn Hudson. Although she told Finn that he was the baby’s father, the audience is quick to gather that the real father is football player Noah “Puck” Puckerman. This is because Quinn’s story to Finn on how she got pregnant is from her being inseminated during a make out session in a hot tub. The first season shows Quinn’s struggles with the mental effects of an early pregnancy, explores family dynamics, and even ends the season off with the birth of her baby girl named Beth. Quinn does eventually decide to give up Beth for adoption in later seasons, but regrets the decision and tries to regain the custody of her child.

Other topics such as alcohol and drug abuse, safe driving, and discovering true character are usually given an episode or two but always end off with an important lesson to gain. Although the show has since concluded in 2015, it aids in helping society recognize the cruel environments that a school can be for students who struggle with the aforementioned topics.