Who Saw the “School Shooting” Episode of Glee?

Hi Readers — I didn’t see the “Shooting Star” episode of Glee last night that featured a lockdown after shots rang out at the uber-musical school. (And I can’t find it on the web without going to some very scary sites that seem ready to infect my computer with high-tech herpes.) But some of you have alerted me to the plot, which is why it’s today’s topic. So, spoiler alert: Turns out there’s no mad gunman, but for a while the audience doesn’t realize this, and neither, of course, do the characters.

The script was written before the Sandy Hook tragedy, so it’s not like the Glee writers have gone Law & Order on us. And I really do not worry that as goes  Glee, so goes America. (Except for the good part, that as goes Glee, so has gone a huge upswing in glee clubs and musicals.) So is there anything significant about having a scary lockdown on the show? Teacher Kenny Felder (who wrote this fantastic Child Safety blog post a few years back) sums up the caveat:

The writers of “Glee” have to come up with a new plot every week, following the same basic formula but yet different from any other plot they’ve done. They have to make it more exciting, at every minute of every episode, than all the other options you can click to. And who wouldn’t rather watch a high school  lockdown — along with cheerleaders in short skirts, famous and near-famous guest stars, and that amazing soundtrack — than read about the latest crisis at the Federal Reserve? Given all that, I certainly can’t fault them for milking this one for all it’s worth. I might do the same in their place.

On the other hand, the real stakes here are emotional. The problem isn’t just that people think, “I saw a lot of school shootings on TV, so they are probably pretty common.” It’s that every time they send their kids to school they imagine a gunman, and Glee feeds into that, the same way the news does.

Now, the typical cynical thing to say about Hollywood is that they don’t care about principles and just want to make a buck. But in many ways I think the makers of Glee are very principled. They have certainly gone out of their way to showcase gay characters, handicapped characters, and so on. So imagine an episode that really shows the difference between a school that is run like a prison, and a school that isn’t in the grips of the kind of panic we’re seeing in a lot of schools these days. Imagine showing viewers the value of allowing high school students more freedom, and ignoring that “What if” voice that increasingly shouts in our heads. Imagine episodes in which some students go off campus, unsupervised, to work in the community, or take biology field trips into the woods, all while singing and dancing of course. And instead of terrible consequences happening, they all learn and grow in a heartwarming way.

A show like that could make more difference than all the statistics in the world.

Agreed! Probably even more difference than a blog that talks about how pop culture’s obsession with kids in danger ends up influencing our parenting, our politics and our school policing. Speaking of which, here’s a great NY Times piece on how having more cops in the schools for “safety” ends up funneling more kids into the prison pipeline.

Nope, I’m not blaming Glee for that. – L.



31 Responses to Who Saw the “School Shooting” Episode of Glee?

  1. Warren April 12, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    Hmmmmmmmmm episode of glee………..or………….hockey game…………………man that is a tough choice……………..I’ll get back to you on that.

  2. SKL April 12, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    I have never watched Glee, but it seems to me that the choice to air such an episode is in poor taste at this point in time. :/

  3. Havva April 12, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Never seen Glee. But it sounds promising that in the end it was just a mistake/drill.

    In a world where kids are living with these drills, the best message for the kids to absorb is that even if it isn’t scheduled. It is almost certainly not the real thing, so no need to panic right.

  4. Sarah in WA April 12, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    I stopped watching Glee partway through the current season. It’s gotten so preachy, and recent song selection has been faltering, in my opinion. (Last time I turned it on they were singing Copa Cabana. Really?)

    I was out with friends last night, and my husband actually texted me that Glee had jumped the shark by having a school shooting episode. My reaction was, “Ugh!” I didn’t see this episode, obviously, but I didn’t like the thought of them trying to cash in on a tragedy.

    In the past they’ve tackled some tough issues, which is fine, but their portrayals are not in any way realistic and often things are summed up a little too conveniently in a song. Yes, I know that’s the nature of the show, but why take on such serious issues in such a silly way?

  5. Puzzled April 12, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Nice of the Times to mention the NRA advocacy, but say nothing about Feinstein wanting more police and National Guard in the schools. I’m sure they’d do the opposite if they were writing a positive piece on cops in schools.

  6. Marianna April 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    I wouldn’t call the makers of Glee at all principled, given the way they treat independent artists like Jonathan Coulton whose music they’ve used without credit. A quick Google search should fill you in on that fiasco, if you’re not already familiar with it. I’ve never watched Glee, and I never will.

  7. Emily April 12, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    I used to like Glee, but I stopped watching it years ago when it started to slip. I’m glad I stopped watching, because I didn’t even know about this episode until now. This isn’t even a question of “worst-first thinking,” or whatever–it’s just bad taste all over. Even if tragedies aren’t common, they’re real, and devastating to the people who are affected by them. To turn a school shooting into a “Glee Musical” is like thumbing your nose in the face of every one of those people. I know Daria did a musical episode about a storm once, but that’s not quite as bad, because that’s a force of nature, rather than a premeditated act by a sick person, and also, during that episode, nobody got hurt, and the storm only lasted a few hours. The worst thing that happened was that a football game got cancelled because of the weather, and Daria and her friends got stranded on the roof of the school for a while.

  8. BL April 12, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    Has anyone done a serious show about a school shooting? Movie or TV?

    I’ve thought that Jody Picoult’s book “Nineteen Minutes” would make an excellent movie. Probably no-one will touch it for fear of being blamed if someone appears to have been inspired by the movie to do it in real life.

    I don’t watch much TV (or movies) so maybe something of that sort has been done and I’ve missed it.

  9. SKL April 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    BL, it seems back when I was a kid, there was a movie about a shooter at a big sports event or some such. I am pretty sure I never saw the movie and don’t remember what it was called, so that’s not much help. I do think the reason it isn’t shown nowadays is the fear of inspiring similar acts. (Which is fine with me – not my kind of entertainment!)

  10. Warren April 12, 2013 at 1:24 pm #


    We do not need any more exposure. We do not need these shooters getting any more infamous. Again the question that always should be asked, is how many people remember the names of the victims, and how many people remember the name of the shooters?
    Although humans with common sense, morals and some resemblance of intelligence would never think like these monsters, these monsters do see mass killings as a glorified way of ending it all.

    I am having a similiar discussion with people about the recent teen girl suicides, because they were bullied. They think I am cold and a bully because I tell them to stop making these girls famous. Giving these teens all this attention does not make a teen a risk stop suicidal thoughts or intentions. It shows them they will get all sorts of love and attention when they are dead. It makes taking their life that much more appealing.

    The more the media and public sensationalize school shootings, teen suicide, and so on, the more they will happen.

  11. BL April 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    “movie about a shooter at a big sports event ”

    Sounds like “Two Minute Warning”, which took place at the Super Bowl.

  12. Sarah April 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    Exellent movie about a school shooting: Elephant by Gus Van Sant


  13. Melissa April 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    People still watch Glee?

  14. North of 49 April 12, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    I liked it. I liked how it showed the kids ways to hide and stay safe and how they were panicking and thinking about their family and friends and more and who exactly they thought of as family.

    I did not like that it was the disabled cheerleader who told Sue that she had to protect herself and brought a gun to school. I was sure I heard 3 shots, not the two that were mentioned.

    Yah, it could have been written better, but with what they did, I liked it.

  15. JJ April 12, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    Meh, I sort of see what you mean, that Glee is feeding into the myth of the common school shooting. But as for viewers expecting “principled” from Glee? I haven’t watched in a couple years, but that is not a word I would use for a show that uses the most preposterous plot twists (teenager’s baby adopted by her teacher who turns out to be the birthparent of the first teenager’s glee club rival and almost has her baby kidnapped by baby’s teenage birth father who the 45-year old adoptive mother starts sleeping with. And that is one of the more realistic plot lines.)

    See what I am talking about?

  16. Bethany April 12, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    I completely understand the reaction of families who have experienced this themselves. I have not.
    Personally, I had not issue with it. The writers sowed a range of emotions and experiences that teens in this situation may face…the kids doing what they were trained to do. Teachers reacting to protect students over themselves.
    It also highlighted things that kids and teens might NOT think of… What do do if you’re in the bathroom, cafeteria or halls if the situation occurs?
    In the end, it was a truly troubled student who was terrified. Not a deranged stranger or damaged staff member. A troubled child who was striving for safety and security. And, again, a faculty member took the hit for her student, losig her position to protect the child. Now, I feel the show dropped the ball in finding a solutio for this kid, but that is more than likely an episode to come.
    I realize that Glee is a musical soap opera for teens and young adults, but it does get them talking and thinking, whether they agree or disagree with the storyline. That, in and of itself, is worth dealing with Glee.

  17. Denise April 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    Some things that hit me- for that troubled student, when she graduates (or ages out at age 22), there are a patchwork of help out there and her school should have connected her to them. No overwhelming solution, just programs, daysupport, and group homes.

  18. lollipoplover April 12, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    No Glee for me either but this post intriguedme so I looked up what happened:

    “As it turns out, Becky (Lauren Potter), a student with Down Syndrome, brought the gun to school and it went off in Sue Sylvester’s (Jane Lynch) office. Nobody was hurt, but Sue gets fired as she takes responsibility for owning the gun so Becky doesn’t get expelled.”

    Huh. And they break out in song too?

    In other news, a relative posted on Facebok about yet another lockdown at her daughter’s school and evacuation (apparently by mistake- they called the wrong color code). She was up all night with her daughter (who’s 6) who worried herself sick fearing an intruder.
    And I hate hearing better safe than sorry.
    Because we are safe but should really be sorry for what these lockdown drills do to kids and teachers.

  19. Hels April 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    Speaking of safe and sorry… I saw this article and it made me sick of it… http://news.yahoo.com/dad-furious-finding-crayon-written-paper-florida-4th-124614291.html

  20. Hi, I'm Natalie April 12, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    I’m not a Glee regular, but I watched it just to see what the fuss was about…

    It was really well done. It showed the fear that permeates the culture, and the realities of overblown reactions to… everything.

  21. Pee April 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    It really made the kids look like sitting ducks, waiting around for someone to shoot them.

  22. Katie April 12, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    I actually DID watch it and can comment about it without making assumptions unlike some people on here. They did not break out into song and dance. A student was scared and showed the gun to a trusted teacher. It accidently went off, the teacher took the blame. It was wonderfully done.

  23. Amy April 12, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    I love Glee and watch every episode. It is basically a teen soap opera sometimes set to music, and of course it can be be silly and over the top, and no one has ever accused it of being too realistic. But the characters and the writing quite often invoke real emotions for me. Glee often moves me to tears (Curt singing “Hold Your Hand” to his hospitalized father, anyone?) and this episode was no exception. The theme was, if you knew you were about to die, what would be your final words, and who would you want to say them to? The school shooting plot was perhaps an artificial device to invoke these emotions, but the final lesson was, we love each other, and we need to say so, every day.

  24. Donna April 12, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    Glee is still on?

  25. hineata April 12, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    @Donna – one of the joys of getting away from America, surely, LOL!

    Must say I can’t stand the show myself, except for the wonderful Sue Sylvester (I would sooo like to shoot some of my kids out of a cannon :-) ), but until we start producing more decent stuff of our own I suppose we’ll be stuck with this Hollywood crap. Yes I could and should turn the TV off, but the girls are kind of addicted to it (Glee, I mean). And I am too slack a parent to bother ‘taking a stand’ on everything.

  26. hineata April 12, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    Also, regarding the Newton school shootings and President Obama’s evidently recent ‘talks’ about the Second Amendment, gun laws or whatever’s going on over there at the moment, here is our local cartoonist’s say.

    Fairly obviously he has a certain bias about the current world situation, and I must say I’m with him…


  27. missjanenc April 13, 2013 at 4:09 am #

    I watched the first couple of seasons of Glee when it was fun and quirky. Now it is probably one of the stupidest shows on TV.

  28. Donna April 13, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    @hineata – I do kinda miss regular TV. But, in keeping with my belief that I live in 1995, I seem to only be able to find Friends when I try to watch TV.

    Actually we do get some regular TV. It is just from Hawaii, in a different time zone, so everything is on at odd times. I gave up trying to figure it out a long time ago.

  29. Jenn April 13, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    BL- About 5-7 years ago Degrassi did a school shooting episode. Degrassi tends to explore some of the tougher issues, making a lot of tv history firsts. They also cast teens to play teens (what a concept) and tries to take a more realistic spin on issues. I have a friend who was on the original series in the 90’s and the cast had to supply the clothes for their characters (when it was low budget) so what you saw was typical fashion of the teen high school scene at the time. I can’t recall the specifics of the school shooting episode but the story did continue over the next couple of seasons (rather than a neat tidy up at the end of the episode).

  30. Jenn April 14, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    In the degrassi shooting the character played by Drake (Jimmy Brooks in the show) was a high school basketball start who was shot by a troubled kid and ended up in a wheelchair, paralized for life, his basketball dreams crushed..I loved the old Degrassi and the new one..As a teen while watching them its nice to be able to relate to the struggles and obstacles of adolescence.. It showed real life situations and didnt sugarcoat things..

  31. Brian April 15, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Degrassi! We watched that in 7-8th grade health. I had no idea it was in a remake/still on.

    I was always partial to the original series episode where the cool kid with the hat pretended to sell drugs but was really selling vitamins.