Glee is a beautiful show, and I look forward to watching it every week. Glee tackles heavy issues in a fairly realistic way. Whether it be bullying, coming to terms with one’s sexuality, financial struggles, parental expectations, intimacy issues, special needs, etc., Glee has tackled these issues with class, grace, and a certain degree of reality that most other shows could never dream of achieving. Granted, there have always been songs intertwined with these lessons, but this makes the emotionally draining episodes a bit easier to handle.
With that being said, I’ve been ruminating about what to say in reaction to this past Tuesday’s Winter Finale episode. I expected to encounter events that would trigger a variety of emotions from me (I often end up crying at Glee, but in a good way) and leave me singing at the top of my lungs.
The Winter Finale episode that aired on Tuesday, February 21st should have come with a major warning.
As far as I am aware, no warning or disclaimer was included in the airing of this episode.
In the first 10 minutes of the episode, Glee took its viewers on a traumatizing, emotional roller coaster. Dave Karofsky, who used to bully Kurt Hummel for being gay, was transferred to a new school. Word got out that Karofsky was gay, and in a slightly predictable twist, he experienced the same bullying he once inflicted on Kurt. I have no problem with this part of the episode, as a lesbian young woman I think it is important to show what some people have to go through during their own coming out process.
However, what followed next, really bothered me.
Following his bullying, in the first few minutes of the episode, viewers saw Karofsky battle his isolation and depression following being bullied. In what was probably one of the most heart-wrenching slew of scenes, viewers saw him become depressed, feel alone, change into his best suit, tie a noose, and step up to the noose hanging in his closet on a step ladder. The scene cut out before viewers actually saw Karofsky hang himself, but a few minutes later viewers saw the image of his father trying to revive Karaofsky after finding him in his closet. Luckily, unlike many cases, Karofsky survived.
I can’t even begin to explain how emotionally triggering this was, nor how upsetting it was to see this scene on a show I find comfort in.
Five months ago, a friend of mine, Lauren, also a member of the LGBT community and a very active queer advocate on campus, committed suicide. She also hung herself.
I normally love Glee, but this episode needed to come with warning BEFORE it aired. Viewers needed to know what they were getting into. Some viewers have had to experience suicide firsthand. Seeing such a graphic episode could really bring back some horrible memories and evoke all sorts of emotions from viewers. I understand that Ryan Murphy and Glee wanted to have that after-school-special type of episode to discuss lgbt suicide, but did they think about the after-effects of the episode on those whose lives have been touched by suicide, specifically hanging?
I am lucky to be doing okay 5 months after my friend’s death. It’s not easy, and there are still days where I feel like I should have done more, but, for the most part, I recognize that it is not my fault my friend chose to take her life. I do, however, recognize that I am at a different place of grief than some of my other friends. I have experienced death before so I am able to handle it a bit better than my friends who have only experienced death through our friend’s suicide.
Even though I am doing okay, I was emotionally shaken, disturbed, and a hot mess after the first 10 minutes of this week’s episode. I couldn’t sleep Tuesday night, as I kept having nightmares and imagining my friend’s lifeless body hanging in the dark. I had had this recurring nightmare when Lauren first died, and I hadn’t had it in a few months. I can’t imagine how some of my other friends who aren’t doing as well as I am reacted to this episode.
My friends—and Lauren’s friends— deserved the warning Ryan Murphy and Fox didn’t think they deserved.
Knowing that a lot of my Glee-loving friends watch Glee the next day on Hulu or they tape it, I immediately updated my facebook status to read:
****GLEE SPOILER ALERT****
Please read this if you’re one of Lauren’s friends and plan on watching this week’s episode of Glee.
An event on this week’s episode mirrors Lauren’s story way too much. It’s a bit graphic, and even though I though I was doing okay, watching the first few mins of Glee brought back a lot of memories and emotions I thought I got rid of. I would’ve preferred having a warning before watching so this is my warning to you guys… Have the tissues ready. Sorry if this seems like a bit too much, but I know this has shaken me up and I imagine it’s shaken some of Lauren’s other friends up as well…
I also posted this on Lauren’s wall so others I wasn’t friends with could be warned. I received thank you texts and messages from quite a few people, and I have to say, it saddens me that Glee didn’t consider the feelings or thoughts of those whose lives have been recently touched by suicide.
So, Ryan Murphy, I ask you the following:
- What is your response to those whose grief and depression following a friend’s suicide were further triggered by your show?
- Why didn’t you choose to include a warning?
- Did you even think of the viewers who would be emotionally rattled by this week’s episode?
- How do you respond to the numerous people who had to re-live their friend’s suicide by seeing the first 10 minutes of Tuesday’s show?
- How do you feel knowing that you successfully allowed people to have nightmares and re-live their friend’s death(s)?
Please, Glee, consider EVERYBODY in future episodes. Seeing a disclaimer or warning at the start of the episode would have helped IMMENSELY. I would have had the tissues ready, emotionally braced myself, and probably changed the channel during the graphic image of Karofsky’s dad finding him.
With all this being said, thank you for addressing an important issue. Just be more considerate in regards to the emotions of your viewers.
Thank you <3