From creepy puppet dolls to twerking: Here are Glee’s most controversial episodes

No, they haven’t aged well x

Ah, Glee. A tangled web of controversy, dodgy teachers, songs that really shouldn’t have been performed and totally unrealistic expectations for teenagers across the world. There really were a riot of interesting storylines between 2009 and 2015, ranging from the outright bizarre hallucination of puppets to whatever Mr Schuester decided to get up to that week.

Glee used to, and still does, make the headlines, and whilst it did highlight some really important social causes on TV for the first time, it also created plenty of issues too. Here are nine of Glee’s most controversial episodes:

9. Mattress (Season 1, Episode 12)

An early chaotic episode which sees Rachel try to organise the Glee club a spot in a mattress advert in order to make them more popular (like that would work at any high school). At the same time, the Glee club leader and Spanish teacher Will Schuester learns that his wife isn’t really pregnant, but has instead been wearing a pregnancy pillow under her clothes, and was planning to adopt the baby of one of his pregnant students. Wild. And yet he STILL STAYS WITH HER FOR ANOTHER EPISODE.

8. Grilled Cheesus (Season 2, Episode 3)

Religion, medical issues and a grilled cheese sandwich – it doesn’t get much bigger than this. In this episode, Finn sees the face of Jesus in a cheese toastie and believes God is communicating with him through this sandwich and this sandwich only. Kurt’s father then has a heart attack, some of the Glee club sing religious songs and Sue Sylvester reports them for it, and it’s just a bit of a mess really.

7. The Hurt Locker, Part Two (Season 6, Episode 5)

Sue Sylvester (because of course it’s her) traps Blaine and Kurt, who have broken off their engagement, in a fake lift in McKinley during the Glee club invitationals. Despite only communicating through a creepy puppet doll, she reveals she won’t release them unless they kiss “passionately”. Despite hating the Glee club for six seasons, she now only wants to see them happy. It’s creepy and this is BEFORE she is revealed to have a massive garage full of photographs of them.

6. Puppet Master (Season 5, Episode 7)

This episode feels like a hallucination… maybe because it is. Whilst sitting in the choir room, there is a gas leak, Blaine hallucinates that all of his friends are puppets who worship him. Because why not?! He then hallucinates again because of stress, makes a puppet of Kurt, his at this point on-off boyfriend (yeah, you’d need a map to explain their relationship quite frankly, but they get it sorted in the end), and then the entire Glee club sings What Does The Fox Say, for that final 2013 feel.

5. Lights Out (Season 4, Episode 20)

There’s a power cut at McKinley, so Mr Schuester gets everyone to perform acoustic songs. Ryder, after singing Everybody Hurts by R.E.M reveals that he was molested as an eleven year old, to which Artie and Sam LITERALLY tell him that it sounds like a young boy’s dream. Sam says: “Wait, hold on did you just say ‘she’ as in a girl, like a teenage girl?” and then tells everyone: “Dude, I’d have killed for that.” Artie chimes in: “Kid clearly has superior game.” At this point, it feels like a game of how problematic can they make this show.

4. Audition (Season 2, Episode 1)

It’s a brand new season and you can bet things aren’t getting any less juicy over at Glee. There are two new faces at auditions, including Sunshine Corazan, whom Rachel ends up singing an impromptu duet of Beyonce’s Telephone in the bathroom with (because of course, that’s normal).  Rachel is then so intimidated that instead of giving Sunshine the correct address for auditions, she sends her to a disused drug house. And this was marketed at family viewing?!

3. The Spanish Teacher (Season 3, Episode 12)

Perpetuating stereotypes? Why, Glee would never! A permanent, tenured position opens up at McKinley and half of the staff are running for it, so Will goes to night school to brush up on… a language that he teaches? In this episode, he sings La Cucaracha with the help of the Glee club, as well as A Little Less Conversation partially in Spanish and whilst dressed as a matador, prompting Santana to complain about him (about time). He then switches to teaching history. Thank goodness the series ended before Hamilton was released or that could have got messy.

2. The End of Twerk (Season 5, Episode 5)

Will Schuester (to reemphasize: their teacher) gets the Glee club to twerk during their Nationals performance, to make it more edgy, and is fired for his decision. He goes before the school board and insists that many dances, including the waltz, were once considered risque, so should be allowed. There is also a narrative about allowing Unique, a transgender student, to use the correct bathroom, and she is only allowed to if Will stops twerking, which does not hold in so many ways.

1. Shooting Star (Season 4, Episode 18)

This episode featured a school shooting scare, when Becky brought a gun to school and it misfired, with Sue taking the blame. Whilst the majority of the Glee club were in the choir room, Brittany and Tina are elsewhere and no one knows if they are safe. Crucially, this episode was aired only four months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and no one reached out from Fox to warn the people of Newton, Connecticut that it would be airing. According to the LA Times, the Newton Victims’ Advocacy Group did manage to get wind of the content in advance and send round an email, but the article still caused much controversy for Fox.

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