Thursday, December 29, 2011

Glee, Television, and the A in STEAM

Two years ago in December, my son and I made an emergency "plane, bus, and automobile" trip north to visit my mother after another hospitalization in her battle with cancer.  To get out of town, my brother Sguth gave us a ride to the station.  He had a CD playing, and after a short listen I commented "That's not Journey."

"No, it's Glee."

He explained that it was part of his campaign to interest more people in the show.  I didn't think much about it at the time.  I had a two-year-old, our grandmother had recently died, our mother was dying, I was working full time AND taking graduate-level engineering courses.  I didn't have time for television.

Truth be told, I haven't watched much television in nearly 20 years, ever since I lost interest in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Me.  Lost interest in Star Trek.  Not good.  Very not good.  The story is coming, over the next few months, but it will take me some to write.  Bear with me.

I can count on one hand the shows that I've actually followed while they were on the air this past decade:

1) Buffy
2) Angel
3) Star Trek: Enterprise
4) Dollhouse (actually watched via Hulu, and mostly just season 2, but I did watch while it was on the air)
5) and now Glee.

Joss Whedon's work (Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse) feels VERY Jungian.  It resonates with all the reading I've done on the works of Joseph Campbell.  I'm not sure I "get" Dollhouse as thoroughly.  I'm not sure I want to, I found it very disturbing.  I haven't seen season 1, nor bought the DVDs.  But Buffy and Angel, I usually felt like I understood them, like they were operating at a very deep, powerful level.

Enterprise was Star Trek, but different.  I really felt like I could see it bridge the gap between where we are in human spaceflight today, and the timelines of Star Trek.  And especially... working in Houston during and after Columbia... THIS was a message that I needed to hear, over and over again:

If Whedon's work feels like Joseph Campbell, Glee's message for me feels very like Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.  (Disclaimer: I've read the books, I have not been active on her web community.)

I just got into Glee last summer, a year after Mom died.  The show has brought up a lot of self-reflection, some of which is already recorded here on my blog.  Expect more, as I start talking about turning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) into STEAM (A for Arts), and why the Arts matter to those of us in STEM fields.