Wednesday, June 09, 2010
A Glee-full Adoption
So last night was the season finale of Glee, an episode appropriately entitled "Journey." And for many, it was a tear-jerker, what with Regionals and a new life coming into the world.
But for me, this episode was another in a long stream of episodes that show me that the Glee writers don't have the first clue about adoption. And since Godzilla has made his appearance, I'm assuming that anyone reading this post okay with me pulling out some spoilers and discussing why I'm so frustrated with this show's bizarre views of human reproduction and, more specifically, the adoption process.
During last night's episode, Quinn wound up giving birth during the middle of the Regionals competition. That scene, in and of itself, intercut with Vocal Adrenaline performing Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, was both clever and cringe-inducing. The overlay of the song with Quinn in labor made me chuckle, especially when Quinn started shouting song lyrics in the midst of her pain. But the idea that her labor would last the length of the song (given the fact that the entire ensemble of New Direction were in the waiting room but were then able to make it back in time for the award ceremony) was a bit ridiculous.
But in many ways, Quinn's labor was great because it means that one of the most ridiculous TV-show pregnancies ever is done with. Quinn's pregnancy on this show has been bizarre to say the least. Her "baby bump" kept disappearing for musical numbers and, I must say, Quinn was pretty spry in the dance numbers for someone supposedly eight months pregnant. Yes, I know, I need to suspend my disbelief, but there are times when my disbelief was rattling its chains pretty hard over the past season when Quinn and her retractable womb made an appearance.
What's been most frustrating for me, though, is the completely clueless nature of the Glee writers when it comes to the adoption process. Now, granted, I'm more familiar with Minnesota adoption laws but I find it hard to believe that Ohio is so radically different.
Let's start with how the adoption process got started: Terri, Will Schuster's shrieking harridan of a wife, has a "hysterical pregnancy" and needs a baby to hold her crumbling marriage together. The whole fake pregnancy storyline was cringe-worthy at the beginning of the season, but made more so from the fact that nobody seemed to consider the legal ramifications of what Terri was planning. What about a home study? What about a court appearance to make the adoption, you know, legal? Finn would have to sign off on the placement as well as the supposed birthfather, something nobody seemed to consider. I was so relieved when Will found out that Terri was faking because I thought that meant that the ridiculous adoption storyline was over.
But no! Last night's episode came up with something just as silly. Rachel tries to reconnect with her birthmother, Vocal Adrenaline's coach Shelby Corcoran (played by Idina Menzel). She suggests that they need each other. Shelby rejects that idea, saying that she's been thinking lately about starting a family of her own. When she hears that Quinn has given birth, she just saunters over to the hospital and, next thing you know, she's a happy mother with a newborn baby named Beth.
Now parts of this aren't completely out of the realm of possibility. Quinn could have picked Shelby and decided that baby Beth could be placed with her. An adoption agency would have stepped in at that point. But what set me off was the fact that, at the end of the episode, a hospital nurse commented that all the adoption paperwork is finished.
Um, no. It takes hours to get through the paperwork. It takes hours for the home study to be done. This is not something that you can complete that quickly.
Ken Tucker over at Entertainment Weekly expressed his discomfort with this plotline as well, but for different reasons. He didn't like the fact that Shelby Corcoran rejected Rachel only to swoon over a little baby. I don't have a problem with that part. What bothers me is a bit more complicated and has to do with the overall negative portrayal of adoptive parents.
Speaking as an adoptive father (and one who is currently going through the process a second time), I am grateful that Glee chose to show adoption in a somewhat favorable light. I am. They could have easily gone the "teenage mother" route with Quinn and Beth. That they decided to highlight the fact that adoption is a viable alternative is wonderful. But let's consider the quality of parents Quinn had to choose from.
On the one hand, you have Terri, a crazy person who is best forgotten. On the other, you have Shelby, who I don't think really thought through what adopting a newborn entails, who seems to have been given the baby on a whim, and who apparently has access to a time acceleration machine.
Don't get me wrong. I'm complaining about this so much because I actually like this show. I love the musical numbers ("Safety Dance" is still one of my faves). I absolutely adore Sue Sylvester as a character. I just wish the writers had done a better job with this storyline simply because, for me, it hits so close to home.