The Glee adoption storyline has ALWAYS bothered me. Always. I mean, as quickly as it was introduced, it was quickly, neatly wrapped up.
Here’s what you missed on Glee:
Quinn relinquished Beth, her baby, to Rachel’s birthmother (which was another sort of disaster of a storyline, cliche wise), and that was literally the end of the story. Quinn didn’t shed a tear, no one asked how she was. Hell, she didn’t even have an appointment with a frequent character on the show to make sure she was okay, and to make sure she was given post partum support- that would never be sellable storyline though. She was supposed to, in good birthmother fashion in TVLand, disappear into the woodwork. And she did, mostly. The adoption storyline was essentially dead, and Quinn could go back to being Quinn, sans baby, and still garner audience approval despite her devious ways.
The writers closed both stories off- Shelby doesn’t really want a real relationship with Rachel, so she takes Quinn’s baby and tries to fix what she couldn’t fix 16 years ago with Rachel. Quinn gets the aforementioned ending, and there is literally no mention of the adoption again. The audience feels better knowing she did the right thing for her baby, and for her. Rachel occasionally, bitterly, mentions her birthmother, but nothing more.
That sound is the sound of my teeth grinding in frustration, in case you are wondering.
Adoption isn’t that easy. It never is. And it’s never that…trite.
Imagine my surprise when they brought Shelby back this season and she wants a really open adoption. Like, this is weird for TV, open adoption. Hell, at one point, Puck, the father goes to her apartment unnannounced, and there is no freak out. Just a casual, you should probably not show up here like that, the same that I have offered to family who have routinely showed up with no warning. Shelby says she wants them in Beth’s life. She wants her daughter to know her birthparents, seemingly with no questions asked, no agency involved (yay!) just honest people who are invested in this little girl, who they all love.
Wait, what? Is Glee really going to show the work that it takes to be in an open adoption, a fully, no bars open adoption?
I was almost cheering.
For the first time, they talked about the transformation you go through as a birthmother; how hard it is, how you sink low, and sometimes even lower then you thought you could. The things they had ignored for over a year, they finally, quickly addressed; both Quinna and Shelby are birthmothers- they get each other, was the message. Quinn is rebelling, and she’s clearly pissed, hurt, and upset about giving her baby away. Shelby admitted she went through the same thing she did. Perhaps they just ran out of good attention grabbing storylines, and decided to take this on. Or maybe someone pointed out the lack of an ending to this storyline. Either way, they finally address some of the issues I’ve had with the whole concept. Quinn, who was told she can’t see her daughter until she cleans her act up, demands to see at least a picture; Shelby complies, and shows her.
Quinn breaks down into tears.
I do too.
Puck, and Shelby are both begging her to reform to her old ways, blonde hair, cute outfits. If she changes back to being Quinn of olden days, then she can be in Beth’s life, but not when she is a complete utter disaster, and referring to herself as a skank. Fair enough, I say. However, Quinn seems to think that’s it unreasonable; it’s her daughter afterall and goes as far as to tell Shelby, that Beth is her daughter, and Shelby will never truly be her mother. Ouch.
She has a lot of pent up anger about this adoption which, is actually normal, it’s actually part of the real process. I mean, the lines they are using are still a little cliche, and occasionally a little eye rolling, BUT, open, real OPEN adoption in TVland? Having a discussion about the real feelings, even years later regarding relinquishment? I’m still cheering this storyline on. It’s semi real, or the most realistic adoption storyline regarding adoption, I have yet to see. Open adoption win!
But then…of course, there is a then. I should have seen it coming.
Quinn obviously goes back to the old Quinn of seasons past as requested, by the end of the episode. Puck congratulates her, they share what appears to be a moment, but then she says that she’s going to get her baby back, full custody, like she gave her away in a divorce.
Oh good. We’re going to do the crazy birthmother storyline. Good, and we’re going to drag open adoption with it, scaring adoptive families about what could unlikely happen if they consider being super open with the birthparents. Nope, we couldn’t just let that amazing storyline ride…we had to add the ever cliche, “The birthmother is going to take the baby back” storyline.
Here’s where we’ll go with this:
1. Shelby will take Beth, in a fit of fear of Quinn “stealing” the baby, and disappear. Quinn will be mad, sad, but will, in good TV birthmother fashion, feel like she deserves it. Then disappear, and thus the adoption storyline will end.
2. Shelby will work with her, understanding what she is going through, and they will continue with the open adoption storyline, occasionally when they have nothing else to discuss on the show, or have run out of Lady Gaga songs to cover.
Or, and the likely contender:
3. They will fight a battle, Shelby will win, of course, and Quinn will be forced to recede into the background because she is the unfit birthmother. Shelby will also do number 1, because Quinn is clearly an unstable birthmother, who should not be near her child at all. The open adoption will be a closed adoption, or a semi open adoption, where Puck and Quinn get pictures, and stay far, far, away from Beth. Because that’s how adoption is supposed to be.
I’m actually flinching from all the horrible cliches.
UGH. Ugh. Why, TVland, do you seem to think that adoption is THIS? Why must we have the storylines like the one on Parenthood right now, where they are making light of what it is like to adopt, and making fun of Birthmother’s essentially when the characters say they need to reference Lady Gaga in order to connect with the teen moms? Why can’t we just have a normal, undramatic storyline about adoption, open adoption, and the impact all of those things have a birthmother? Why do we have to continue with the ever cliche version of “Birthmothers are crazy, and should never be trusted because they will always want their babies back!” ?! Why couldn’t we have just stuck with the unwritten, unperformed idea of an open adoption? It’s never been done before, so run with it!
We get the message, TVland:
Birthmothers are crazy, do not deserve their children, and should not be trusted. We got it. So did the rest of society.
But we’re not. So maybe, try that storyline on for size- it will surprise your viewers.