Saturday, May 29, 2010

TV Show Glee: Adoption Theme

Have you noticed the adoption themes cropping up in Glee? I've only caught a handful of episodes, but after watching the last two and observing the delicate and authentic way a complicated adoption story was portrayed, I am committed to catching up with the show.

The two most recent episodes featured Rachel's story as an adopted daughter of two gay men. Apparently the birth mother, Shelby, was a surrogate mother for the men (I wasn't sure if that meant one of the fathers was a bio father? Doesn't appear so.) Rachel's boyfriend asks her about her deepest dream, the one that keeps her awake at night.

"What's missing?" he asks.

"My mother," she says.

Rachel imagines her mother as a famous broadway star (how very typical!) Quickly she locates Shelby, who had secretly found her first. The two look eerily alike, and both are talented singers--and thus a few moments of musing on genetics and inheritability.

Quickly, though, the excitement dissipates. Both mother and daughter realize they had unrealistic expectations for reunion (though moreso the mother, I thought). Shelby realizes that Rachel doesn't need a mother, that it's too late for her to be there for Rachel in the way she wants to be, and then decides they should go their separate ways. She basically rejects Rachel again. Before they part, Rachel asks if they can sing a song together. They do, thus fulfilling Rachel's lifelong dream to sing with her mother.

I don't think Rachel's feelings of rejection were explored much. The adoptive fathers were not present--I'd like to have seen their reactions to Rachel's quest. The search process was truncated to fit among several other story lines in a 45-minute show. But overall I was impressed with the depth of issues that were explored in this adoption story, and that they were not oversimplified or sugar-coated to meet the typical mainstream POV.  Nice job, Glee.


Anonymous said...

I watch Glee, and I had the same thought about Rachel's feelings--"She's being rejected! Again! How awful!" I felt frustrated with the mother. At one point she says, "Rachel's an adult now" and I thought, "Um, actually I think she's 16, and those childhood feelings of missing a parent never really go away, so you're kind of wrong." I'm curious to see how they'll continue to develop this storyline. I hope they do.

Adri said...

She's not adopted. Shelby is a surrogate, and Rachel says in the first episode that her fathers mixed their sperm (one is white/Jewish and the other is black) to see which one would take. Still has issues of abandonment, but nope. Not adopted.

Liberty said...

Well, it's a birth mother theme and a relinquished daughter theme anyway. And still worth talking about in light of adoption. But that explains why they had so much info and documentation.

Watch TV Shows said...

I also watch Glee :) I thing Shelby is a surrogate...