I’m Jumping on the Bandwagon

I have one word for you all: GLEE.

I’ve been putting off watching the pilot since it first aired last spring, despite all the positive things I’ve been hearing and reading about it. Well, tonight I finally got around to watching the director’s cut of the pilot (now airing on Hulu) and the second episode “Showmance” and OH. MY. GOD. If you aren’t already watching this show, GET ON THAT.

…now here are some reasons why.

Glee is the successor to several great innovations in mass media entertainment from the last few years. The sadly short-lived ABC series Eli Stone laid the groundwork for incorporating staged musical numbers into a network television show. The Big Bang Theory established a (respectable) place for social underdogs at the forefront of entertainment. And High School Musical, as well as several highly successful (read: Oscar nominated and/or winning) movie musicals like Chicago have brought show tunes out of the dark ages and into the present. And there are more factors, more sources, but I feel like I’ve made my point.

What Glee has beyond a strong lead-up is an ability to appeal to a broad audience. It is not just a show about high school. It is not just a show about music. It is not just a show about people who are down on their luck. It is not just a show about making people laugh. It is a brilliant combination of a high school story (satirical, poignant, and slightly nearer the real world than most “high schools” parading across television screens these days – I’m looking at you, CW teen dramas), a stab at economic hardship (because the recession is important and funny),  and the personal journey of a man with some very serious and very adult problems (also hilarious, but, more importantly, accessible), all set to rearranged pop music performed with kitschy choreography and unfailing enthusiasm. Though it is classified as a comedy, Glee is also a genuine exploration of the human condition. It’s cheesy to say out loud, but there is real matter intertwined with the jazz hands, and that balance is what really gives Glee its appeal.

Another thing that Glee has going for it is its performers. All of them. The support cast is phenomenal, featuring a troupe of endearingly (and seriously) flawed faculty members and some truly superb vocalists. For me, though, there are three cast members who really give this show it’s fire. Jane Lynch is massively hilarious and even more horrifying as hardass cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. She loves to be hated, and I definitely love to hate her. Lea Michele plays Rachel Berry, the requisite unpopular girl with enormous talent and touchy-feeliness, and a character I could not possibly care less about. But the voice. My god, the voice. She is a phenomenal vocal talent and her performances are riveting to watch (and it doesn’t hurt that she looks almost too much like Idina Menzel). And then there is the leading man, Matthew Morrison, who plays Will Schuester. I could go on and on about the amount of charm and energy and vitality this man has as an actor and what that does for the show…but I think the best way to sum it up is this: It takes some serious talent to be a skinny white guy and do even watered-down Kanye without making a complete idiot of yourself. He has it.

As of right now there are eleven more episodes of Glee ready to air. I’m not keeping up on my Nielsens, so I don’t know how Glee is doing in terms of pulling an audience. But I’m hoping (I’m REALLY hoping) the crowd is substantial enough to keep Glee around for not only those episodes, but a full 22 episode season with more to come. Glee has not small number of things going against its success – it’s a musical, it’s on constant nightly ratings loser Fox, it has the typical first season awkwardness, and it’s smart (and yes, that is a detriment). But, as I’ve said, there are also a lot of things going for this show. So cross your fingers and hope for good news in the future. For now, enjoy the hell out of it.

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  • Lena  On September 21, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    Reading this post in hindsight, especially the last paragraph, amuses me immensely. It was such a small show so recently, and these kids were all struggling actors and musicians trying to land a gig (with the exception of Lea Michele). And look at it/them now.

    • meltedbrain  On September 21, 2010 at 7:00 PM

      Bahaha yeah. Whatta world, huh?

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