Shouting Out at ‘Glee’: Teacher Cannot Hold his Peace over Best Man Choice
I’m beginning to think the spontaneous singing and dancing is the least unrealistic thing about Glee.
One of the great (and, I’m sure, unintentional) ironies of the Fox hit is that the show preaches “Don’t stop believing” while presenting scenarios that make doing so virtually impossible.
For example: Are we really supposed to believe that a group that includes the hunky quarterback and several beautiful cheerleaders could really be targets of constant “slushy” attacks? Or that our dedicated Glee-clubbers, after traveling across the country for the most important competition of the year, would not only show up in New York with nothing prepared but then decide to write original songs the day before the big event? Head-scratchers, indeed.
Then again, this isn’t the History Channel here. It’s Glee, right? We can handle a little suspension of disbelief.
And so, on a recent episode, when Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), in a soaking wet white tux, literally walked across the high school swimming pool and asked his girlfriend Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays) to marry him, as the climax of a hastily-constructed-yet-impossibly-intricate synchronized swimming number, I rolled with it.
Because to me, the truly “cry-foul” development happened earlier in that same episode, when Mr. Schue asked Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith)—a high school senior—to be his best man.
As a high school teacher myself, I’ve always been a little suspicious of Mr. Schuester—and not because he once planted marijuana in Finn’s locker to blackmail him into joining the Glee club. Reportedly a Spanish teacher, Mr. Schue has been spotted in the actual classroom maybe three times. He’s rarely seen correcting tests or essays. And he spends an inordinate amount of time during the school day in the choir room, which raises the question, “Where do McKinley High’s actual music teachers hang out?”
In fact, Mr. Schue’s lack of interest in teaching Spanish became so obvious that even the writers had to acknowledge it. And so, in the recent Ricky Martin episode, Mr. Schue admitted he doesn’t even know how to speak Spanish that well and decided to teach social studies instead. (Yeah, because switching disciplines is that easy!)
In short, only his seemingly endless supply of snazzy Cardigan sweaters prevents me from giving Will a failing grade as an educator. But asking Finn to be the best man? Come on. What, Will has no other relatives or, you know, friends his own age who could do the job? It’s beyond unrealistic; it’s inappropriate, bordering on creepy.
Am I saying teachers can’t have important relationships with the kids? Of course not. Those relationships make the job meaningful and worthwhile. After all, no one goes into teaching because the prospect of spending an entire weekend correcting Othello essays sounds oh-so-appealing. You go into it because of the kids. Truly, the kids make the job.
Nor am I saying that teachers can’t ever see students outside of the classroom. Over the past ten years, I’ve gone to many, many plays and games and recitals and graduation parties—not because I have to, but because I want to. I care for these kids and want to support them.
But we’re not peers. My students and I don’t “hang out.” And as much as I respect many of them and enjoy their company, I would never even invite one of my current students to my wedding, let alone ask him to be my best man. It just crosses the line.
Now, to all the Gleeks out there: I’m not hatin’ on poor Mr. Schue. I know he means no harm. He legitimately cares for Finn (the whole “planting marijuana in his locker” incident notwithstanding), and considering Finn doesn’t have a father, that relationship is significant. In fact, if Finn asked Will to be his best man, I absolutely would have accepted that.
Moreover, I also know Will Schuester is a fictional character. But here’s the thing: there are real-life Mr. Shues out there, well-meaning high school teachers who don’t break any laws themselves but have the misfortune of sharing the profession with people who do.
Every day, it seems, you hear another story about some deviant teacher who has sex with his (or her) students or plays beer-pong with them or does all sorts of brazenly inappropriate activities with them. (Case in point: Idina Menzel’s Glee character Shelby Corcoran sleeps with the seventeen-year-old Puck—although she apparently suffers no consequences for this indiscretion.)
Granted, the number of kind and decent teachers in the world far, far exceeds the number of monsters, but the monsters get all the press. They’re the ones who ruin it for the Mr. Schuesters of the world.
Is asking a student to be your best man at all comparable to those other crimes I mentioned? No way. But you don’t ever want to be even remotely painted with the same brush as those guys.
So, if Will Schuester were my colleague, I would have to tell him this: Enjoy the kids. Believe in them. Advise them. Respect and admire them. Write them college recommendations and celebrate with them when they get in. But when it comes to social functions like weddings, leave them off the invite list.
Oh, and maybe refrain from serving slushies at your reception. It could get ugly.
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