Photo Credit: Carin Baer/FOX
Singing, dancing, a positive message about celebrating our differences. Of all the primetime shows about teens, Glee seems like one you could take home to Mom. But parents of younger fans -- tweens who've also been the target demo for High School Musical and Hannah Montana -- are noticing that the Fox hit gets pretty racy. With the new Lady Gaga episode, should parents be monitoring the show, as it gets even edgier?
From the very first episode, Glee has walked a fine line between teen drama and adult comedy. Most of the sexual jokes are subtle -- like the Glee Club's name, New Directions (try saying it three times fast) or cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester's veiled references to her raunchy past. But the show's writers definitely like to push the envelope -- there was a running gag earlier in season 1 about football player Finn's premature ejaculation, and the recent Madonna episode contained a "Like a Virgin" fantasy montage with three couples (two in high school) getting it on. Then there's that plot about the head cheerleader (and chastity club president) getting pregnant. Unlike the previous generation's teen shows -- remember how big a deal it was when Brenda and Dylan did it on prom night? -- Glee isn't coy about the fact that some of its teen characters are sexually active.
And this seems to be the main gripe of The Parents Television Council, a TV watchdog group that has given Glee a thumbs-down for kids under 16. Footage of the new Gaga episode is being kept tightly under wraps, but many parents worry that the show may be pushing boundaries even further with its tribute to the edgy singer whose performances are often sexually charged.
Indeed, the potential for awkward moments is pretty high if you're watching Glee with a 10-year-old. But in terms of moral fiber, Glee remains one of the most wholesome shows on TV. The teen characters participate enthusiastically in school activities, support each other through tough times, and have close relationships with their parents. In terms of sex, the show hardly endorses abstinence, but it does demonstrate that treating sex thoughtlessly has major consequences; it's no coincidence that the brainiest characters (star singer Rachel and guidance counselor Emma) are the ones who've chosen to wait. And most of all, Glee -- with its cast's spectrum of sexualities, ethnicities and disabilities -- celebrates the idea that our differences actually unite us. And that's a pretty important message for tweens, who often do anything to fit in. For every subversive, awkward Glee moment, there's an opportunity to talk to your kid about real pressures that affect them every day. And that's where "safe" fare like High School Musical just can't compete.
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Do you think Glee is inappropriate for tweens? Chime in below!