A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Themes include compassion, empathy, perseverance, and teamwork. The general message is for students to step out of their cliquish boxes and work together. Supporting one another through difficult times, accepting people who are different from you, and finding positive ways of dealing with fear and trauma are positive messages throughout. Stereotypical references frequent but put into context; bullying, friendship, and homophobia are addressed.
Positive Role Models
Most central characters are dedicated, enthusiastic teachers and students, though it's not always apparent. Students are diverse (in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability status, and so on). Folks have flaws -- sometimes for comic effect -- but most show they have heart at some point. Girls and boys are both dedicated to singing and the arts, and a transgender character is ultimately treated with respect.
Violence & Scariness
Bullying is a theme. Fantasy violence sometimes visible. One main character is in a serious car accident; another dies.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teen sex, teen pregnancy, sexual orientation, and sexuality are frequently discussed/addressed, and one episode discreetly depicts several teen couples having sex for the first time. Some sexual euphemisms, dancing. Petting and other behavior visible among straight and same-sex couples.
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"Bitch," "hell," "crap," "damn"; terms such as "cripple" also used.
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Products & Purchases
Lots of music from various popular artists. Logos for Starbucks, Pottery Barn, iPhone; brands such as Marc Jacobs referenced.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking and drunken behavior visible; teen drinking doesn't always have consequences. Medical marijuana and OTC meds discussed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Glee is an edgy teen comedy featuring a diverse cast, positive messages of cooperation and acceptance, and topics such as homophobia, bullying, substance abuse, teen sex, death, and other envelope-pushing topics. There's some occasional iffy language ("bitch," "damn," "hell"), some derogatory terms such as "cripple" and "fairy," and occasional references to genitals. There's also a bit of name-dropping when it comes to brands, and the cast performs songs by an endless number of popular artists ranging from Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra to Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, and Madonna.
Is It Any Good?
The combination of offbeat characters, fantastic performances, and a willingness to take on controversial topics in a sensitive manner make this show a winner despite its many flaws. Some critics have complained about Glee's uneven narrative and its overreliance on song-and-dance numbers at the expense of story development, but its hip sensibility has music-loving teens buzzing. The show's atypical blend of high school fare similar to that in Election, High School Musical, and Mean Girls is exciting, as are guest appearances by artists such as Ricky Martin, Gwenyth Paltrow, and Neil Patrick Harris.
If you love singing, musical theater, or show choir, Glee is going to make you happy. For one thing, there's the presence of two big Broadway names (Morrison has starred in shows such as Light in the Piazza, while Michele is known for her stellar work in Spring Awakening). Adding to the fun is the talented supporting cast that includes the always-reliable Jane Lynch (of Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and Party Down fame), a comedian whose gift for deadpan one-liners practically guarantees she'll steal any scene she's in.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.