'Glee' Creator Ryan Murphy Talks Death Threats, Regrets, Controversy
For a show known for its musical numbers and high school melodrama, "Glee" is also perhaps the most progressive, boundary-pushing show on network primetime, with particular emphasis on pushing head-on the reality of high school sex, both hetero and homosexual.
To many, the show has proven a haven, an hour a week to which they can relate in an otherwise lonely world. For others, though, the show touches on taboos that are not fit for TV, especially a show with so many children fans. As a result, creator Ryan Murphy has experienced a whole host of reactions, from fans and, scarily, foes.
"I’ve gotten death threats, yes. I have," Murphy told Deadline in a wide-ranging interview. "I think anytime you shine a spotlight on homosexuality or minorities and you try and say they are as normal or as worthy as acceptance as others, the people who are on the fringe don’t like that and they will come after you. And they have come after me. I think it’s such a great show for young kids. The values of it, I think, are great."
While standing behind the show's core message, Murphy admits to some oversteps, especially with condom demonstrations. Still, the positive change he can make outweighs the criticism - however dangerous -- and the loving feedback he gets fuels the fire. The episode in which Kurt (played by Chris Colfer) tries out for the football team and then comes out to his dad, Murphy said, made him realize the difference he could make.
"I thought so you can do entertainment and maybe do something responsible and socially relevant. That’s when I got interested in looking at the impact that we possibly can have and what can we do with that," he said. And while he doesn't want to get preachy, he says, "I think it’s a great gift when I go to those Glee concerts and and look out into the audience and see 20 people in wheelchairs who’ve been driven by their parents across three states because they see someone who looks like them who’s cool. That is an amazing unexpected gift of the show that we take very seriously."
This won't be music to certain conservatives' ears -- see: Jackson, Victoria, the former "SNL" actress-turned-conservative columnist who has called out the show on numerous occasions -- but with twelve Emmy nominations this year after 19 last year, it's doubtful that much will change.
It's been a tough summer for Murphy in a number of ways; not only has the show's politics been an issue, but there's also been a question of cast members coming and going. He originally said that the show's rising seniors -- including Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Corey Monteith -- would be graduating and leaving the show, though that has since been scuttled.
For so much more from Murphy, including more talk about the politics of the show, as well as the upcoming season and Emmy Awards, click over to Deadline.