Glee Gets it Right

Jeremy Sharp, PhDUncategorized Leave a Comment

Yes, I watch Glee.

This must be the week for television shows and their intersection with psychology. Last week I blogged about American Idol’s similarity to group therapy…this week it’s Glee’s tackling of gender issues.

The past two episodes of Glee have impressed me with the way they’ve looked at gender norms. Last week, the lead male character disclosed that he’s been feeling “depressed” lately due mainly to (surprise!) relationship issues. I was struck by how openly the writers chose to talk about his emotional state; there was no “feeling blue,” “being out of sorts,” etc. They just came right out with it, calling it depression from the get-go.

How awesome! Not that he’s depressed, of course, but what great modeling for all the guys out there struggling with the stigma of depression and the masculine norms that say how men are supposed to suck it up rather than voice emotions. A lot of my work in therapy is to help men recognize that their emotions are normal and acceptable. Here’s a popular, athletic, straight guy talking frankly about depression. Nice work, writers.

This week’s episode tackled the flip side – oppression and empowerment of women. The writers looked at both sides of this issue. First, there were female characters who were actively empowering themselves and others (by listening to music by Madonna, no less). Second, the male characters were challenged by their teacher/glee club leader to recognize the ways that they were mistreating their female peers. Given the nature of the show, they managed to address these issues in a song, but the message was powerful and bold: become aware of the impact of your actions and work to change destructive attitudes. Again, nice work.

Just when I was starting to roll my eyes at the show, they deliver two episodes with great messages. The musical numbers are still cheesy, but at least they’re built on substance again. Can’t wait to see what happens next week 🙂


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