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To Glee or Not to Glee?

Does network TV match our family? That is a very personal question.

I don’t consider myself a conservative gal. But last week’s "Glee" caused a firestorm in our house.

I’m relatively new to the hit teen musical show. A couple of months ago I got a kick out of Gwyneth Paltrow’s guest cameo. And I do adore native Chicagoan Jane Lynch, the show’s straight-talking gym coach. After watching her Grinch-like heart melt while she sung with special needs kids last week, "Glee" had the markings of our favorite new family show.

It’s rare to find a program that each of us likes. Our "Seinfeld" reruns have been played so many times we can name an episode in three syllables. 

The musical part of "Glee" offers my kids and I the chance to bond over our favorite songs. I can get giddy over pop music that echoes throughout our house. The dishes get done a little faster with a dash of Bieber fever.  

And I am a sucker for teen drama. I’m sure Oprah would diagnose me with some sort of latent, incomplete experience from my own teenage wasteland. Whatever the reason, the rush of excitement was palpable.  

It was 8 p.m. on a dreary Tuesday night. Snuggling up on the sofa with my kids, I was excited to get my "Glee" on.

But the first few scenes were shocking. To my horror, we watched kids drink booze out of reusable coffee containers in the school halls during the passing period to class. Shortly after that, the Glee Club members played spin the bottle in the basement of an empty home. The party was replete with a strip routine as a favored character gave a lap dance in her Victoria’s Secret bra and panties.

I felt sick to my stomach. Although I felt sure Fox was building up to a moral line to be delivered that does not condone illegal drinking, they sure took their time with the delivery.   

Wriggling in agony next to my son, I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Stripping and underage drinking on a weeknight at 8 p.m.? I resented network television executives for forcing me to get off the sofa and take a stand. 

I knew I was going to have to face the pop music and turn off the TV. But did I have the energy to face the certain fallout with my kids?

A difficult journey begins with a single step. Mine started by getting off the sofa to collect my thoughts by taking some laundry upstairs.

As I folded clothes, I remembered a line printed on a poster in my fifth-grade daughter’s school. It always comes to me when I need to find courage.

“Courage is standing up in a room full of people who are doing something wrong and doing what is right.”  

I knew I wasn’t smarter than a fifth-grader. But could I be as courageous? And what if the room full of people were your own children?

I tried to figure out what was holding me back. Putting away some folded towels I began to execute my intervention into my kids’ treasured show.

I was all over the map. On the one hand, they already watched part of the show. Missing the triumphant moral ending would leave them with only the negative "before" picture.

I reasoned with myself that other parents happily let their kids watch whatever they want. I knew how we raised them and they wouldn’t be sipping wine coolers from their Starbuck’s cups anytime soon.

I further reasoned that "Glee" had some very heartwarming episodes. I had seen many examples of choices based on good character, honesty and acceptance. 

But as I paired the socks in the basket I knew that sometimes things fit and sometimes they don’t.   

That night, for me, I just could not get "Glee" to match our family.

“You can do this,” I said to myself as I slammed a drawer shut. 

For goodness sake! I have lived in two foreign countries! I have chased a mugger down the streets of the great city of Chicago! (He didn't get my purse either.) Where was my courage to stand up and turn off the TV? What kind of mother is afraid of her own children?

I threw down my basket of clothes and headed to the living room.

I took a breath and faced my fears, staring straight ahead. You would have thought I was storming the beaches at Normandy.

I thought of the ad from my own teenage wasteland: “Just do it.” 

I marched into our living room and turned off the TV. 

“Enough is enough!” I said, prepared for the revolt.

A cyclone of protests threatened to blow me right through the living room window. I braced myself against the popular backlash. 

But kids know when there is no wiggle room. They can smell indecision like a dog sniffing for table scraps. Under these circumstances, it’s best to fake it 'til you make it.

I stood firm, and as expected, their words blew enough air to put the lift right back in my lifeless hair.

What’s the worst that can happen? I thought to myself. They may be angry. They may even hate me. But they’ll be back as soon as they’re hungry for dinner. 

As the fury subsided I put away the last few folded towels.  

I knew my kids wouldn’t fit in at school the next day when their friends were talking about the ending of their favorite TV show. I also knew they would survive.

Besides, everybody needs a little teen angst.  

They’ll need some stories to swap about their insufferable parents as they stand around waiting for a ride home from school. They’ll need something to tell their kids about their own brand of teenage drama.

They might even remember the story with nostalgia in their eyes.  

And maybe just a little Glee.

Name April 16, 2011 at 05:50 PM
thank you!! exactly the point I was trying to get across.
Renee Gough April 18, 2011 at 11:29 PM
Great information. Thanks Kathy!
Renee Gough April 18, 2011 at 11:30 PM
Courageous behavior is exciting isn't it?
Susan Karppala May 05, 2011 at 04:11 PM
From a mom's perspective the writing couldn't have been more perfect. Thanks so much. I relate to this on so many levels, including the matching of the socks!!!! What a delightful piece. It's like you crawled into my psyche.
Renee Gough May 05, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Thanks Susan! Matching socks may be my least favorite job on earth. And writing this column my most favorite!

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