Wednesday, May 4, 2011

GLEE in the time of foreclosure

Tonight I found myself relating to one of the characters on GLEE. No, not bossy, control-freak, everything's-about-me-all-the-time Rachel. At least not tonight. Tonight it was Sam. And no, not because of his giant lips but because of...

SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you don't want to know what happened on tonight's episode.

...his living situation. It turns out that Sam, the new kid at McKinley, is a recent victim of the housing crisis. In tonight's episode we discover that he and his parents and younger brother and sister are now all living in a small, cramped motel room.

Why? Well, his dad was downsized soon after they moved. According to Sam, they spent a lot of money on the move and the new house which put them in a difficult situation when his dad lost his job. It apparently wasn't long before the bank took back the house (TV time is much more condensed than real time.)

Yes, this story line does appear out of the blue. And because of that, it feels superficially manufactured and therefore somewhat (okay, slightly more than somewhat) unbelievable. I mean, I could totally pick it apart. I mean seriously, Sam. Your dad just lost his job and you already lost your house?! Come on, people. Banks don't move that fast!

But again, this is TV. And it's not only TV. It's GLEE. Which requires viewers to suspend disbelief several dimensions beyond normal. However, I'm looking past all of this because I think the subject is that important.

So, back to Sam and his new-found poverty. Turns out Sam's family sold almost all of their belongings (I totally related) and moved into this tiny motel room (luckily my family took us in or we might have ended up in a motel room too). What's left of their belongings is packed in the room and their car. Sam even sold his guitar (I sold my guitar and saxophone, that I never played, for extra cash while fighting foreclosure) and is considering leaving glee club in order to take care of his younger siblings and find and after-school job to help.

Well, the glee club does not want to lose Sam to the local Baskin-Robbins (my after-school job in high school) so they buy Sam's guitar back for him. This makes him cry. And makes me think of all the generosity that came our way when we were facing foreclosure. And after... on the island. So much generosity.

I'm really glad that moment was in the episode because it's so true to life. Okay, I can see how it could seem like a cheesy TV moment. But I'm here to say it wasn't. That sort of thing happened to us! No. No one bought my saxophone or guitar back for me. Thankfully. But, we had an anonymous stranger pay our heating bill, we had friends bake lasagna for us, two strangers gave us a free place to live on a beautiful island! A free place to live on a beautiful island! If Rachel and Finn giving Sam his guitar is a cheesy TV moment, then I guess the last two years of our life have been comprised of cheesy TV moment after cheesy TV moment. And if that's true, then why isn't anyone paying me to write this stuff?!

Just as it wasn't easy for Sam to tell his fellow glee clubbers the truth about why he was living in a motel, it's not easy for anyone to share the truth about facing foreclosure or being so down on their luck. But when the truth comes out, people respond with compassion and generosity. When Sam cried, his tears seemed to be a mixture of despair and relief. A mixture I could fully relate to.

The episode wasn't centered on this housing crisis storyline. It's just what I focused on. The major theme of the episode was rumors. The title was "Rumours" and each glee clubber was tasked to sing a song off of Fleetwood Mac's epic Rumours album. Sam chooses to sing "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" in order to cheer up his younger brother and sister.

That's love in the time of foreclosure. A perfect anthem for down times.

Thanks, GLEE, for putting a spotlight on foreclosure and its impact on families. I'm sure a lot of kids out there could (unfortunately) relate to Sam's story. And hopefully they feel a little better tonight and a little less alone.

"Don't Stop"
Written by Christine McVie.

If you wake up and don't want to smile,
If it takes just a little while,
Open your eyes and look at the day,
You'll see things in a different way.

Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don't stop, it'll soon be here,
It'll be, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.

Why not think about times to come,
And not about the things that you've done,
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.

Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don't stop, it'll soon be here,
It'll be, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.

All I want is to see you smile,
If it takes just a little while,
I know you don't believe that it's true,
I never meant any harm to you.

Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don't stop, it'll soon be here,
It'll be, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.

Don't you look back,
Don't you look back.

Did you see the episode? What did you think?


Baby By The Sea said...

I've never watched a Glee episode, but I heard "Don't Stop" on the radio today. I often think how funny it is that television moves so fast, but really, if I was looking in on my own life, I'd have to say the same.
P.S. Um, you should totally write a Glee episode.

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