Glee tackled the sensitive topic of school shootings last night. The episode, titled “Shooting Star,” found the show’s fictional students struggling to cope with their fears when a gun is fired at their school.
Glee often incorporates hot button teen issues into its story lines. However, Thursday’s school shooting episode comes just four months after the horrific real-life tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, prompting the town’s school superintendent to issue a warning to families shortly before the show aired.
In a letter sent out early yesterday, superintendent Janet Robinson conveyed concern that Glee’s school shooting scenario could be unsettling to Newtown students and cautioned parents to make an informed decision before watching the episode.
“Greetings,” Robinson’s letter began. “I want to make you aware that the show Glee is featuring what could be a disturbing plot tonight and I want you to be aware so you can make an informed choice about watching this.”
Robinson then included quotes from entertainment blog TVLine, describing how gunshots fired in the show’s fictional school, “… rips the frothy high-school musical off its foundation and transports it to a dark and harrowing world.”
“Allegedly, the rest of the episode is claustrophobic and emotionally charged, as students cower in the rehearsal room and consider their possible fates,” a second TVLine quote read.
Robinson ended the letter by stating, “This has the potential to be disturbing to many of our students, so I wanted you to know ahead of time.” Her concern was certainly understandable in the wake of the immeasurable suffering endured by Newtown families because of a school shooting.
Last December, 20 children and six adults lost their lives after being gunned down at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. The shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, committed suicide before he could be apprehended by authorities. The terrible tragedy marked one of the worst cases of school violence in US history, and Newtown residents are still in the process of healing.
The Glee school shooting episode also prompted a warning from the victim’s advocacy group Newtown Action Alliance. In an email released prior to the show’s airing, the organization urged residents to be aware of the show’s content before watching.
“According to someone who blogs for an Internet site that is a TV spoiler site, the TV show Glee that airs tonight on Fox is going to depict a school shooting from the vantage point of the students hiding in the dark. He said it is extremely harrowing and it even freaked him out and he’s not from here,” the email explained. “I would suggest if you do watch this TV show to either not watch it tonight or watch with caution.”
Did you watch the Glee school shooting episode? Do you think entertainment shows should tackle the sensitive subject of school shootings so soon after the Newtown tragedy?