Glee edited by TEN -but it’s not all bad.
TEN again snipped an episode of Glee for a PG timeslot, but what remained was very progressive, all things considered.
Last week’s episode of Glee “The First Time” was an interesting exercise in television for several reasons.
Firstly, it was the second time this season TEN has edited an episode to fit a PG timeslot.
Secondly, it raises bigger questions about why the remaining adult themes didn’t attract any furore.
“The First Time” centred on the performance of a West Side Story production in which the two lead performers Rachel (Lea Michelle) and Blaine (Darren Criss) were told they weren’t giving very believable performances because both were still virgins.
In the 7:30pm timeslot this was rated PG for its Sexual References. In the US the episode attracted criticism from the Parents Television Council which slammed it for later depicting two teen couples — one straight, one gay — having sex for the first time.
In truth the scenes were post coital, but it was clear by the end of the episode that Rachel / Finn and Kurt / Blaine had indeed done the deed.
TEN edited out a reference to masturbation in the opening scenes, (at least) the second time this season it has trimmed the show to fit a PG timeslot.
Here is a description of one of the opening scenes as it originally aired in the US:
Blaine is dancing around his bedroom while Kurt watches from his bed. Interrupting Blaine’s speech on the ’70’s music, Kurt asks Blaine if he thinks he’s boring. Blaine of course denies this, but Kurt elaborates – he meant sexually boring. Blaine admits to thinking that was what Kurt wanted, and he agrees, but would still like to know if he had ever had the urge to ‘rip off each other’s clothes and get dirty.’
Blaine seems amused, and says that that was why people invented masturbation. Kurt blushes, pretending that the room is simply overheated. Blaine sits down with him, and tells him that they are young, they have time, and that before they have sex, he wants Kurt to be comfortable, so he can be himself. He eyes Kurt up and down and states, ‘Besides, tearing off all your clothes is sort of a tall order.’ Kurt banters back with ‘Because of the layers?’ Blaine agrees, ‘Because of the layers’ and they kiss.
In the Australian broadcast the reference to masturbation and an over-heated room was deleted.
A TEN Spokesperson told TV Tonight: “Correct, we did cut that line out because in the PG classification (which Glee was) verbal references to sex must be restrained, mild in impact and justified by the story line or program context. In this episode (titled “The First Time”) a number of characters are questioning their virginity, including Kurt and Blaine, Rachel and Finn, and even Coach Beiste. This story line justifies the relatively frequent references to sex throughout this episode, but the references must still be restrained and undetailed.
“PG-style sex references must be euphemistic rather than explicit, and the use of the word ‘masturbation’ falls into the “too much information” category.”
After TEN edited out the word ‘skank’ from an earlier episode in September, it raises questions about whether the network should reconsider the timeslot for the show next year. TEN wants a profile show in a profile timeslot but the show isn’t always designed for a PG audience.
However there was considerable content that remained including flirting, kissing, dancing in a gay bar and teens awkwardly attempting to ‘get it on’. The post-coital scenes of the two couples was intimate, tender and unmistakable.
For a PG timeslot the scenes were carefully implied rather than depicted. What was acceptable for heterosexual characters was matched by homosexual characters.
So where was the audience outrage? In 2009 when Home and Away featured a same-sex kiss in a PG 7pm timeslot the furore was unrelenting.
Perhaps the explanation can be found in the fact that media chose to make an issue of Home and Away ahead of the episodes airing, including News Limited quoting Pro-Family group representatives commenting before they had even seen it.
Save for articles last week in the Daily Telegraph and Byron Shire News, both of which merely referenced the US outrage, Glee escaped unscathed in Australia. Home and Away, which showed far less, was not so lucky. It’s an odd standard.
We have even seen gay characters, including same-sex smooches, in G-rated shows including Neighbours and Dance Academy without incident. What’s acceptable for one sexuality in a given classification is acceptable for another.
So while the deletion of “masturbation” was unfortunate, the rest of the episode was quite progressive and suggests audiences are more tolerant of adult themes when they’re actually in context.
And not whipped into a frenzy by the wider media.