Leave it to Glee to manage to throw a seriously twisted twist into the middle of an episode about preparing for regionals. Tonight the lights went out at McKinley High School, and people opened up ... big time. Not one but two Glee characters confessed they've been molested.
The show has covered some major teen topics over the years -- from suicide to alcohol -- but it's the first time they've broached child molestation.
To their credit, the writers did right by the topic.
We've watched Ryder struggle with the fact that his new online confidant might be a fellow choir member who is Catfishing him, but tonight we found out why he's let himself be reeled in. Thanks to the anonymity provided by a computer screen, the newest New Direction was able to talk about being molested by his babysitter wen he was younger. But tonight decided to say the words out loud for the first time to his fellow choir members in part because he was afraid his Catfisher might spill the beans.
The power of the Glee treatment came from the response from the guys in the choir room.
The New Directions guys scoffed at Ryder's embarrassment and called being violated by an older woman a real coup for a young stud.
And it turns out something similar happened to Kitty, who confessed to Ryder during a private dinner at Breadsticks that she too was abused -- this time by a friend's older brother at a sleepover. Kitty's trust was then violated by her own parents, who seemed intent on believing that the perpetrator was a "good boy" who just couldn't have done what she'd said. The bullying that came after her story spread around school forced Kitty to change schools, sending her to McKinley.
Both teens stories were pretty sad ... and pretty typical of the high school experience.
At first I was a little put off by how quickly the show jumped from these serious confessions back to the more superficial work Kurt, Rachel, and Santana were doing for the New York City Ballet's fundraiser or the Glee club perfecting its version of Queen's We Will Rock You.
But the more I think about it, the more apropos it was. This is what happens to real kids in real life. They say someone is sexually assaulted in some way every 2 minutes, but we probably will never know how often it happens to kids especially because they are blown off so often, they are treated as if they were somehow responsible or as if they should have enjoyed it. And if they aren't receiving that treatment, they're fearing that they will ... fearing it so much that they don't speak up.
Bravo to Glee for their treatment of this tough topic, especially for pairing up with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) to give kids a place to turn if the episode hit home.
But I have to say I'm hoping for something a little lighter next week ... and they'd better follow through on the promise of some Klaine drama that we saw in the teaser!
What did you think of tonight's powerful episode? Did it ring true for you?
Image via Fox