Have you ever watched Glee and thought, “I wonder if that happens in real life?” I know I have and would like to point out some real aspects of the show. Now, not all of the scenarios are true to life (As a choir director, I don’t know of a choir that can learn an entire show with 8-part harmony & full choreography in a week, with no sheet music to sing from, or that has a complete band in class to accompany every song, to name a few…) but many of the aspects of the show really do happen in public schools and in life, in general. You don’t have to be a “music geek” in order to watch the show, since so many things that “Glee” deals with are universal. So... Let’s see how many you can identify with…
10. The arts are underfunded and money is filtered into more popular programs (i.e. cheerleading and football). Money is much more likely to be cut from arts programs than sports programs throughout our area. Sad, but true. How many of you have bought “Band Fruit” in order to support your local High School band? Or peanuts and pizza kits from the choir kids? The money they fundraise goes toward necessities that schools can’t always provide.
9. Arts classes typically encompass a more diverse community of students than other activities. In a chorus or band class, you can have jocks, geeks, skinny people, heavy people, divas, shy people, etc. The “out casts” and the “popular kids” feel safe in arts environments because they know they have less of a chance of being judged there. Think of Quinn when she stood up to Sue Sylvester last season. She said that she would rather give up her Cherrio’s uniform (yes, that is the name of the cheerleaders at William McKinnley High School…) than give up her place in Glee club. She wanted to stay with the friends that had been with her throughout her pregnancy ordeal & would never want to hurt the people that really cared about her, through the good times and the bad. Chorus creates a bond between different types of people because what you share is so intimate and a part of you. If someone squeaks on a saxophone, they can blame their horn or reed. But if you crack while singing, it is all on YOU. A level of trust has to be created so that the students can feel safe to make those mistakes (in singing and in life).
8. You never really know how much you value someone until you almost lose them. Think of Kurt and his dad in the second episode of this season. Kurt wanted to start breaking away from their family tradition of dinners on Friday nights. He was feeling smothered a bit by his dad, then BAM, dad has a heart attach and Kurt realizes that whereas he may not have “a” faith, he has faith in his dad and wants his dad to pull through. And the pain Rachel faced when she finally discovered who her mother was (the leader of “Vocal Adrenaline and portrayed by the incredibly talented Idina Menzel) only to have her mother say it was “too late” for them, since Rachel had her dads & had grown into a talented teenager. Rachel’s mother replaced her with Quinn’s baby. Wow — how does a person get over that loss?
7. Teachers can be mean… I don’t know about you, but I have known a Sue Sylvester or two in my schooling career. Are they mean to push us to work harder or are they just… mean? I guess only they will know the answer to that… But, for every bad teacher, I’m sure we’ve known at least one Mr. Shue to make up for the meannie.
6. Teachers that you think are mean can actually be cool. Think about the WONDERFUL new character, Coach Beiste (pronounced “Beast”). She seemed like the tough coach that needed to be hard on kids so she would be taken seriously as the BOY’S football coach. She thought Finn & Artie were mocking her, so she let them go from the team. Her attitude had been tainted by how Mr. Shue & Sue had been treating her, so she took it out on the members of “New Directions”. But once she saw how Finn & Artie were treated by members of HER football team and that they really were good guys, she allowed BOTH of them back onto the team. Maybe she really is a softy at heart.
5. People can surprise you. Mr. Shue being mean to the Beiste? AND siding with Sue Sylvester? What had the world come to on the opening show of the season? Emma dating the hot dentist (played by the wonderful John Stamos… If he were my dentist, I’d go every week!) Britney showing vulnerability when Artie rejected her? Rachel feeling threatened by Sunshine, a new girl at school that could SING, and due to Rachel’s efforts to thwart her intentions of joining “New Directions,” caused Sunshine to join their rivals, “Vocal Adreniline.” Quinn being unsure to trust her feelings for the new quarterback, Sam… Who would have thought that even the “popular” kids & teachers had insecurities… And think of Sue’s relationship with her older Down’s Syndrome sister. Sue does have a heart, after all and is so loving toward her sister, it makes you forget how hurtful she can be (well, almost.)
4. Break ups are HARD!! Watching Mr. Shue pine for Emma is heartbreaking. And seeing the pain in Artie’s eyes as he looks at Tina (and realizing that he gave his virginity away to someone he didn’t really love, in turn breaking Britney’s heart…) Finn finding out about Quinn & Puck last season and that the baby he thought was his was actually Puck’s? All of us have gone though a tough one, whether we are in High School or getting ready to go to our 25th High School reunion. Break ups are not easy or painless no matter what your age.
3. Many religions are out there, and just because you subscribe to a specific one, doesn’t mean your friends have the same beliefs you do. In “New Directions” alone, we know that Rachel & Puck are Jewish, Quinn & Amber are Christian (as is Finn, but he’s just not sure how the whole “praying” thing works yet), and Kurt is an Atheist. Yet they all can put these differences aside to come together as a unit and be close friends and give amazing performances. But sometimes, even with the best intentions (like wanting to pray for Kurt’s dad while he was in the hospital), a person’s faith can cause hurt feelings to those who do not have the same belief system. (And, for the record, being the music teacher that I am, one IS allowed to teach sacred music in public schools, as long as he or she does not teach theology or try to use the music to convert a student into a specific belief system.)
2. No matter how bad you feel or where you are from, when you are in a “mood,” Brittany Spears can make everything better. And for that matter, so can Britney S. Pierce (aka, the amazing Heather Morris). If you missed the dream sequences in the “Britney/Brittany” episode, do yourself a favor and catch “Me Against the Music” and “I’m a Slave 4 U.” Wonderful displays of talent! (And, for you “So You Think You Can Dance” junkies, Mark Kanemura from season 4 and as an all-star in season 7, is a back-up dancer in “Me Against the Music.” Look to Britney’s right, left side of screen, and he’s there!)
1. You’re not always going to win. Even though all last season, the “New Directions” were heading to Regionals and practicing as hard as they could, it didn’t guarantee them a win. Sometimes, no matter how much you want something, or how hard you work for it, you don’t come out on top. This is a difficult concept for people of all ages to deal with. But seeing how much more they are committed to doing well and being a part of the school fabric even AFTER they lost Regionals (as Principal Figgins said as they were getting ready to perform at Homecoming, “Fresh off their last place finish at Regionals, please welcome the New Directions!”), is inspiring to say the least.
Well, that’s how Conni “C’s” it for now… I am sure there are more things I could mention; teenage pregnancy, struggling with your identity (sexual and otherwise), dealing with ridicule and criticism, finding out that people aren’t always who they seem, but I think I will leave the list here as of now. I am sure even more similarities will arise as we continue to watch this season. Tune in Tuesday’s at 8:00 PM on FOX to catch more episodes. Next up, “Rocky Horror” on GLEE!!
Conni Ironmonger-Mann lives in Yorktown with her husband Don and daughter, and can be found either watching TV from her sofa or writing her dissertation (guess which one is more fun?) You can read her blog at dailypress.com/dpop or follow her on Twitter at @Conniim.