TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Glee TV Poster Image
Popular with kids
Edgy-but-quirky comedy's music, message will win teens over.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 195 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 714 reviews

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.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Stands out for positive messages.

Positive Messages

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. 


Bullying is a theme. Fantasy violence sometimes visible. One main character is in a serious car accident; another dies. 


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. 


"Bitch," "hell," "crap," "damn"; terms such as "cripple" also used. 


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. 

What 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.  

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byyouareamazing December 4, 2019

All six seasons of Glee feel like a "try not to cringe" challenge

Glee could only work as a satire. ALL the characters are presented as racist, sexist, and ableist stereotypes rather than actual people. There's an ambitio... Continue reading
Parent of a 13-year-old Written byilovebamboo April 2, 2010

HSM with It's Lunch Money Stolen

Before letting your children watch this show, you have to figure out if they are mature enough.But, as a rule of thumb, it's not for children under 12. The... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byGirlie257 November 11, 2010

Amazing show with a great message

Great show by far. If you think this show is inappropriate, your kids talk swears and sex at school and if your trying to keep the content hidden from them , yo... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bymicah251 October 29, 2010
I hate how adults think all teenagers are stupid. Sure, there are some dumb teens, but most of us have a good head on our shoulders. Just because we see someth... Continue reading

What's the story?

In GLEE, high school Spanish teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) renews his own passion for music by starting up a glee club composed of talented misfits. His star pupils turn out to be a pitch-perfect but unpopular overachiever Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) and Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), a well-rounded jock whose friends practically disown him for putting singing before sports. Other glee club members such as Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer), Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley), Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale), and Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) also add their talents to the group. Will is committed to the club, but his home life (early in the series), with an overbearing wife (Jessalyn Gilsig) and spats with cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), isn't as fulfilling. As the series progresses, the glee club faces pregnancy, love, first-time sexual encounters, and even death -- and express much of their thoughts about all of it with song-and-dance numbers.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the realities of high school hierarchies and whether students of any age truly divide themselves into insular groups like they do on Glee. Kids: Does your school have cliques, and do you ever have trouble making friends outside the lines? Parents: Do cliques still happen in adulthood, or is high school its own world?

  • Do you know anyone who's had a problem with bullying (either face-to-face harassment or cyberbullying)? Have you ever tried to stop someone from getting picked on?

  • How realistic is the show's portrayal of high school? Are the characters relatable? How do these students change during their years in school?

  • How do the characters on Glee demonstrate compassion and empathy? What about perseverance and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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