Category: Weekly Columns

There’s no doubt that I’m really wading into it with the title of this column. I was reflecting on the end of this season of Glee and the only other television series that I watch regularly, Modern Family. I enjoy both show but do wonder if they have an agenda as to the message they want to put across.

Let me be clear on my stance on homosexuality to eliminate any pre-conceived prejudices you may assume I have or may project on me that are not true. I lost a VERY DEAR friend to Aids back in the day when it first appeared. I worked in showbiz for a quarter-century and loved and interacted with people of all stripes, with equal passion, respect, and collaboration. If they were talented and good people, I loved them. If they were not, I didn’t. Simple.

Further, as far as rights, I believe we are all created in God’s image and deserve equal protections under the law, and equal choices in our personal lives. To be explicitly clear, if either of my boys were gay, I’d love them the same. If they were bad people, my love might diminish but I don’t give a hoot about their sexuality.

Nonetheless, what message are these two shows choosing to portray? I believe that Modern Family portrays a gay relationship with all the dimension, humor, pathos, and love of any relationship and I love the show and all the characters. I believe Glee is much more agenda-driven and looks to put gay characters in the forefront to a very large and unrealistically disproportionate degree.

There will constantly be arguments about what percentage of the population is indeed gay just as there will be even more heated disagreements about the cause – IF there is a cause – for that life choice. I believe – again to be clear – that there are several possible causes for one’s sexuality. I believe in the majority of cases, it is simply the cards you were dealt and you have little or no choice as to whom you love. In other cases, a serious trauma such as physical or sexual abuse can be the seeds of sexual orientation.

And finally, how society chooses to treat lifestyles often encourage behavior in one direction or the other for those “on the fence.” This was quite evident in ancient Greece where it was commonplace for aristocratic men to have sexual boy-slaves. Had that society not condoned and encouraged such behavior, it is less likely it would have been so prevalent.

The same argument can easily be made for promiscuity, in any community. When we lived in more let’s say prudish times, sexual experimentation was reserved and often delayed until and only upon marriage. The sixties changed that dramatically and, in this man’s opinion, it’s gotten a bit out-of-hand on Madison Avenue and in Hollywood! The prevalence of teen promiscuity is well documented and, again in this dad’s opinion, largely unhealthy for our kid’s healthy adult sexual growth and maturity.

I watch Glee because I enjoy and truly appreciate the music and talents of the performers. I don’t watch it for the story lines and have particular distaste for the portrayal of sexuality among high-school age students. Whether it’s Puck trying to seduce his (female) teacher to get a good grade or the portrayal of two same-sex relationships with Kurt/Blaine and Brittany/Santana, it all feels like an effort to make all sexual conduct appear ubiquitous and just fine among these 15-18 year-old kids.

And, I emphasize the word, “kids.” They are kids, though most are portrayed by young men and women a decade or older than the characters they’re playing. What messages are the producers of Glee attempting to sell? I believe they want the audience to believe that open homosexuality in high school is cool — that any sexuality is just fine, and that the realities of acting out on your sexual feelings at that stage of life are not near as harsh as they really are.

I believe Glee is portraying a fantasy world with minimal consequences for the experimentation and sexual promiscuity these young people indulge in. Even the heterosexual relationships feel out-of-touch to me with the lead characters of Rachel and Finn planning on getting married while still in high school. Hello?

Let’s look at the relationships in Modern Family, in contrast with Glee. I see in the three primary families portrayed, diverse, funny, and interesting lives. The gay couple is loving, argumentative, and funny in every bit the same ways as the two heterosexual couples portrayed. All the parenting shown is realistic, again very funny, and there’s abundant humor, never stereotypical other than making fun of Jay being married to the much younger Gloria.

The bottom line, to use a much over-used expressions from show biz, is that for me these are two entertaining shows. Glee overtly presents its political messages while Modern Family avoids hitting us over the head with any message and, instead, lets the writing and characters make us care. What do you think?