Glee School Shooting Episode Sparks Controversy — Too Soon After Newtown?


By Shari Weiss


Thursday’s episode of “Glee” has sparked controversy over its depiction of a school shooting at the fictional McKinley High.

The show began with a “viewer discretion is advised” disclaimer regarding the portrayal of school violence, and shots rang out partway through the episode, prompting characters to hide out in classrooms and try to protect each other from the presumed danger.

No one was actually injured, and the show’s message ultimately seemed to be about telling people how much you care for them while you still have the chance — but some are questioning whether it was aired too soon after December’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.

Some parents were warned in advance, thanks to an e-mail sent out by the school superintendent and a Newtown victims advocacy group, leaving them disappointed by the news but grateful to be told before the broadcast. Many tuned in anyway, and later expressed shock that the series actually went there. “It was so realistic that I couldn’t believe it,” Sandy Hook parent Tracy Muzzio told NBC Connecticut. “This close to the tragedy without any warning, I believe was inconsiderate.”

Fellow parent Andrew Paley didn’t watch the episode, but still criticized FOX for airing it. “We’re going through a healing phase right now and without giving us any kind of warning, it’s going to open up wounds we’re trying to close right now,” he said. Others were critical that the shooter — who actually fired the gun accidentally when Jane Lynch’s character convinced her to turn it in — turned out to be the show’s lone character with Down Syndrome. Still, not everyone objected to the storyline — which was reportedly in the works before the Newtown tragedy — and creator Ryan Murphy called it the series’ most “powerful” episode ever.

Tell us: Do you think the “Glee” episode was exploitative? Or was it a meaningful way to address school violence? Note: Video is no longer available.

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