'Glee' Controversy: Episode on Teen Sexuality Draws Protests
Tonight's episode of "Glee," focused on two teens who lose their virginity (one straight and one gay), has already caused protests from the Parent's Television Council even before it has aired, and the show's creator Ryan Murphy has spoken out in defense of the episode.
The PTC released a satement today saying:
“The fact that Glee intends to not only broadcast, but celebrate children having sex is reprehensible. The gender of the high school characters involved is irrelevant. Teen sex is now more prevalent on TV than adult sex and Glee is only playing into that trend," said the group in a statement.
"Research proves that television is a teen sexual super peer that can, and likely will, influence a teen’s decision to become sexually active. Fox knows the show inherently attracts kids; celebrating teen sex constitutes gross recklessness," said the PTC release.
Of course, the gender of the characters is very important in this case, as it's most likely the first time any major television show has dealt so frankly with gay teen sex.
“We were talking about it [in the writers’ room] like, ‘Why shouldn’t [Kurt and Blaine] lose their virginity at the same time?’” "Glee" creator Murphy told Entertainment Weekly.
“Everybody has seen a straight couple losing their virginity, but has anyone dovetailed the gay and straight stories together and given them equal weight? That seemed like an exciting choice and a new thing,” said Murphy.
The PTC has been extremely effective at pressuring networks to tone down content or even shutter shows. MTV's "Skins" and NBC's "The Playboy Club" are two recent examples of the group's recent targets that have seen their ratings negatively impacted by criticism from the group and advertising boycotts.
Both shows were cancelled despite positive early starts and high ratings expectations.
Admittedly, "Glee" is on another playing field, and has been roundly applauded for its positive, responsible depictions of teen life, but the show is definitely taking a risk by venturing into the potentially dodgy territory of teen sexuality.
For Murphy, though, the reasoning behind this particular show has everything to do with sending the right message to teenagers about what love and sex can mean.
“I think what it says to a lot of young gay people who are confused and ashamed is that you can get love and are worthy of love," said Murphy.