I’ll admit, I haven’t been keeping up with “Glee” this year. After reading about what happened in the fourth season of the McKinley High music group, and knowing the majority of the main stars had graduated, I was a bit timid to do so. That said, once I heard about the controversy surrounding the “Shooting Star” episode that aired on April 11, I was intrigued to examine both sides of the portrayal of what was thought to be a school shooting. The episode, while opposed by many following the Sandy Hook elementary tragedy, actually didn’t portray explicit violence, or was even about a shooting to begin with. Even so, the terror of a possible event was well portrayed by the new and noble actors, but the entire situation felt out of place and at the wrong time. Either way, here’s a look at both sides of the coin.
How far can you go?
“Glee” has definitely raised a few eyebrows in the past for including topics like premarital sex and attempted suicide. Incorporating assumed gun violence in the narrative might have pushed the envelope too much once again. Not only is it a sensitive topic with the Sandy Hook Elementary School and Century 16 Theatre shootings of the past year, along with every other school shooting that happened, but the event just did not seem to fit in the episode.
To recap, Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) instructed the students to pick the song they would like to be their last, thanks to the ditzy cheerleader Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris), mistaking a dead ladybug in a Pringles chip can for a meteor in a telescope that she named after her cat Lord Tubbington. Either way, he decided to continue on with the practice just before the school went in a lockdown after two gunshots fired. While that is a more extreme way to remind viewers about saying what needed to be said before it’s too late, the sudden shift from absurd to upsetting moments in the narrative felt out of place.
Despite the awkward transition, the actors adapted and performed well. The fear, shock, and worry that would be expected from someone involved in the situation was portrayed accurately, and actions such as trying to keep quiet and banning students like Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet) and Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz) from leaving where they were at that moment to see if their colleagues were safe. The sequence was very tense until the police gave the okay for class to return as normal, but since shootings are upsetting, it should feel uncomfortable to watch if any writer feels it is necessary.
Even so, no one was murdered or injured as a result of the shooting, and the actual gun fire wasn’t intentional at all. Actually, Becky Jackson (Lauren Potter), confided in her mentor and Cheerios coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) that she brought a gun with her to school to protect herself once she graduates. When Sue asked her to give her the gun, later trying to take it from her, two gun shots were accidentally fired. Since she is well aware that Becky feels safe in the McKinley High hallways and would hate being expelled, Sue takes the blame for the shooting claiming it was her gun. Also, the episode did not glamorize the idea of a school shooting in the least, especially since that wasn’t Becky’s intention to begin with.
For the amount of publicity “Shooting Star” received with such strong opinions, I am probably the odd one out who felt neutral about it. The emotion performed by the actors was accurate and well done, and the uneasiness of the situation itself was appropriate. What was not appropriate was the fact that it was aired a mere four months after an elementary school shooting, and those left behind, let alone anyone affected by gun violence, are likely still trying to cope with it. However, the most troubling fact of the topic was the fact it clashed with the majority of the episode. Yes, it was part of the last song ever sung theme, but surely there are other, less controversial, methods of achieving those feelings.