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It's every television producer's dream to draw an audience so big, it encompasses every demographic from milk-toothed pre-teens to toothless great-grams. "Glee" aims for that broad appeal and largely succeeds, but sometimes it's hard not to wonder how some segments of the "Glee" audience feel about story lines so clearly geared to segments at the other end of the chronological spectrum.
While Mom and Dad love the Madonna episode that brought them back to their high school days, the Justin Bieber episode probably left them cold. Meanwhile, the youngest "Glee" fans might wonder about things like what "scissoring" means or whether it's typical for adults to feign pregnancies.
"Glee" Is On: Do You Know Where Your Sixth-Grader Is?
It's not a bad thing for adults to enjoy watching music that's less than a decade old, or to appreciate the preposterous teen love stories that "Glee" has to offer. Nor is it unhealthy for the younger set to see some more mature plots about teen pregnancy, divorce and complex relationships, although some parents may disagree with that. (Then again, those parents usually aren't letting their kids watch "Glee.") But "Glee" can get uncomfortable.
Most adults perceive their pre-teen years through a rosy haze of nostalgia. It's easy to forget that despite your innocence, you did in fact know where babies come from (even Finn eventually learned that babies don't come from sharing a hot tub). Kids are savvy enough to know about much of what "Glee" shows them, even if they don't discuss these subjects with their parents.
More important than the racy or controversial topics that "Glee" shows kids, though, is the solid underlying message that it's OK to be different in some way, that bullying is wrong, that self-expression is good, and that being a geek or an outcast doesn't make you a lesser person. That's a message that appeals to any age group.
Do Older "Gleeks" Miss the Point?The flip side of the show's multigenerational appeal is that older viewers sometimes feel uncomfortable watching for a different reason--the show just feels so young sometimes. It's hard to avoid a little of the "mutton dressed as lamb" feeling of being too old for a show's intended audience when watching people half your age pretending to be even younger people while singing songs originally sung by embryonic pop stars.
If you listen to more talk radio than top 40, you're likely to spend at least a few seconds of every "Glee" episode thinking, "Yep, I'm old." But "Glee" isn't just for the younger set; there are too many winking in-jokes made for older viewers--the ones who remember when "Don't Stop Believin'" was a hot new release, the ones who watched Lady Gaga back when she was called Dale Bozzio in the 1980s and early '90s.
"Glee" Wants You...and You, and You, TooIf you're young, you're missing some of the humor in "Glee." If you're not so young, you're going to cringe at some of the melodrama and Bieber songs. But overall, you'll get this show no matter your age. It's part of the show's awkward charm that it can have such a broad appeal despite being set in a midwestern high school.
Embrace the fact that although "Glee" isn't meant entirely for you--no matter who you are--it has enough that is meant for you to keep you tuning in.