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Range of TV shows tackle bullying issue

Chris Colfer, right, and Mike O'Malley are shown

Chris Colfer, right, and Mike O'Malley are shown in an episode of "Glee." Photo Credit: Fox

As awareness grows over the issue of teen bullying, TV has taken notice.

Bullying has been a significant plot point of "Glee" since the high school-set series launched last season. It was the predominant theme of last week's episode, in which openly gay student Kurt (Chris Colfer) was repeatedly thrown against his locker by a football player. Tired of being bullied, Kurt confronted him, producing a highly unexpected response - the bully kissed him full on the mouth.

The subject has been tackled on a range of other shows, from TeenNick's cult hit "DeGrassi: The Next Generation," to ABC's cop drama "Detroit 1-8-7."

A recent Lifetime movie, "Reviving Ophelia," based on "Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls," by Mary Pipher, focused on cyberbullying.

In its recently concluded season, "DeGrassi" featured a transgender character named Adam who was dragged by bullies out of a bathroom then thrown into a glass window. On "Detroit 1-8-7," a girl killed a bully who had been tormenting her.

Denitria Harris-Lawrence, the co-executive producer who wrote the episode, said in an interview, "I was reading a lot of articles at the time and all were about school bullying incidents that were happening around the world, and it was just mind-blowing to me."

TV's most unusual approach to bullying may be found on "Bully Beatdown," an MTV reality series produced by "Survivor's" Mark Burnett, which just began a third season. On this show, known bullies are confronted by mixed martial arts fighter Jason Miller and then challenged to take part in a cage match with other MMA fighters as an audience cheers.

In the wake of several highly publicized suicides caused by bullying, two stars of ABC's "Modern Family," Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet - who play a married gay couple on the show - cut an anti-bullying public service announcement. "Differences should be celebrated - there's no other you," Stonestreet tells viewers.

And an online initiative, It Gets Better Project, has gone viral with dozens of video testimonials by gay adults describing bullying incidents in their lives.


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