This Week on 'Glee': Bullying Episode Offers Shallow Suicide Subplot
The following contains spoilers … you’ve been warned.
This week was the winter finale of "Glee," which basically means it ended in a lame and predictable double cliffhanger. The show will be on hiatus until April 10.
The entire episode seemed like one giant after school special touting the dangers of bullying. Right off the bat, rival glee club member Sebastian tried to sabotage the New Directions' chances of winning the upcoming regional competition by photo shopping a picture of Finn and threatening to post it online unless superstar Rachel agreed not to compete. Sebastian is also the one who threw a broken glass-spiked slushie into Blaine’s face a few weeks ago, landing him in the hospital for eye surgery.
Meanwhile, ex-bully David Karofsky (he used to endlessly torment Kurt for being gay, but it turns out he was just an angry closeted gay himself) is tormented by his teammates in the locker room, who have discovered his secret and spray painted "fag" across his locker. Doesn’t feel so good from the other side, huh Karofsky?
Instead of using this as an opportunity to show triumph over struggle, the "Glee" writers had Karofsky try to off himself. It was a long commercial break before discovering that (thankfully) the attempt had been unsuccessful. The attempted suicide prompted a lot of talk amongst the high schoolers about the things they are looking forward to in life, and the power of positive thinking.
I actually dug this part and think that life is better when you have things to look forward to. It’s good to self-evaluate and see if the way you’re living your life is on track with the person you see yourself as five to ten years down the road. My favorite president, Abraham Lincoln, once said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be,” and that’s a motto I tried to remember whenever I get the blues.
One thing I thought that "Glee" missed with this whole suicide drama was what it really takes to get into that dark place. Mr. Schue shares a story about when he thought about killing himself when he was a teenager and tells the kids to have compassion for Karofsky because everyone has something that could lead him or her to that edge.
A good friend of mine committed suicide a couple of summers ago, leaving behind a beautiful wife and two adolescent daughters. When I heard the news, I absolutely refused to believe it until there was undeniable evidence that he had taken his own life. I remember talking to another friend about it, and my main thought was, “He always cared so much about everyone around him, I don’t understand how he could do this to his family and friends.”
That’s when I learned something important about suicide. Those that attempt it aren’t (usually) doing it out of selfishness, but selflessness. Another friend who has struggled with depression in the past told me, “You don’t know what it’s like to truly believe that the world would be a better place without you.”
I would have loved for "Glee" to address this issue and tell the audience that those feelings aren’t normal, and there is help available. Bullying doesn’t cause suicide; crossed-wires in the brain that make people feel less than worthless – like a drain on everyone around them – does. This was the perfect opportunity to address the real issue of mental illness, depression, and suicide, and instead "Glee" made it about a pet cause.
Side note – This is not to say I’m a-ok with bullying, because I’m not. This is a very real issue that causes a lot of pain to a lot of people, and anyone that condones it is a jerk to the nth degree. I just wish "Glee" had taken it a step further.
And just because this was the PSA special, the double cliffhanger came about with Finn and Rachel at the courthouse waiting for bridesmaid Quinn to show up so they can get married. Rachel texts Quinn to find out where she is, because they’re about to lose their time slot for the nuptials. Quinn checks her phone while driving, misses a stop sign, and gets slammed by a truck.
Does she live? Do Finn and Rachel get married?
To be continued …