31 October 2009 | jimjo1216
Entertaining feel-good dramedy; wild, like a small-town cousin of "The O.C." -- with singing!
"Glee" is a high school comedy (dramedy?) filled with music and choreography. It follows the students and faculty surrounding a high school glee club. The show exploits high school stereotypes (the popular jocks and cheerleaders, the "losers" interested in music clubs, the dumb athlete, the flamboyant homosexual, etc.), while preaching a "be yourself" and "follow your dreams" message. There are some emotions, but much of the show is light-hearted fun.
I was reluctant to watch "Glee" because I'm not particularly into musical theater. I finally checked it out and it's become something of a guilty pleasure. It's a good show, well-made and entertaining. I can see how the program is popular. I imagine it would be a hit with younger demographics (mostly female?). Audiences can relate to the high school experience (fitting in, stress, dating and relationships, the usual). Younger viewers might find the show inspirational at times. "Glee" showcases a less glamorous crowd than shows like "Gossip Girl" or "The O.C." before it, and the crazy story lines are less heavy on drama. Overall, the show is pretty family-friendly, although there are sexual references.
Another attraction of the show is its music. Each episode is peppered with musical numbers performed by the cast. Singing, dancing, the works. They cover pop hits of yesterday and today. The writers sneak these numbers into the script in two ways: when the glee club is rehearsing or performing a routine and when a character is singing out his or her emotions. In the case of the latter, the singing does not "occur" within the reality of the show; it's used to emphasize the feelings inside the character. The show attempts to avoid the old method of spontaneously breaking out in song.
The cast members are all talented singers (to varying degrees) and many are accomplished musical theater performers. The performances are all great, with the singers belting it out and rocking the house. I can see fans of "American Idol" liking "Glee". TV viewers are really into vocalization nowadays. Personally I could do without some of the singing. I know that's the gimmick of the show, but I think it slows down the plot and I tend to be more interested in the story. But I can't deny that the performances are impressive.
The show is not "realistic", but I don't think it strives to be. It's silly sugar-coated escapism. In the "Glee" universe, endings tend to be happy and people learn valuable lessons. There's angst and tension, but no real heavy tragedy or anything. It's a more light-hearted show. And the show is pretty silly. Not to be mistaken for realism. (Teachers forming a boy band? Football players dancing on the field to Beyoncé?) Any character in the show can prove to be a singing and dancing dynamo. Each passing episode seems to expose another student or faculty member as a musical talent.
And all of the characters are given interesting quirks and background stories, just for fun. There's Rachel, the aspiring star, busy showcasing her vocal talent on MySpace, raised by a gay couple and ridiculed by the pom-pom crowd. There's the guidance counselor with her extreme germaphobia and OCD-like obsession with cleaning things. The crazy wife, desperate to get pregnant and always thinking of her own interests. The cheerleading coach (played superbly by Jane Lynch), who constantly exercises and claims, among other things, to have been in the special forces. One student runs a pool-cleaning business so he can seduce mothers.
The premise of "Glee" is this: A Spanish teacher takes over the high school glee club and wants to return it to its past prestige. He assembles a small but talented group of social outcasts. Then there's the football star who harbors a secret passion for singing. When he joins the club, he has his feet in opposite ends of the high school caste system: the jocks and the geeks. (Breaking down barriers...) Lynch plays the villain, the cheerleading coach unwilling to share the spotlight (or school funding) with an upstart music club. Meanwhile, there's romantic tension between faculty members (one a married man!) and between the football player (dating a cheerleader) and one of the glee "losers".
The show is not really my style and some of the jokes are only so-so, but "Glee" is entertaining nonetheless. Jane Lynch's sly wit is easily the funniest part, but there's also the show-stopping musical numbers and all that feel-good stuff about teenagers overcoming adolescent pressures. The show also keeps you interested in the subplots (love triangles, romances, scandals, etc.) and makes you pull for the good guys and root against the bad guys. It's wild, like a small-town cousin of "The O.C.", with singing. Sure, it paints a sunnier (and crazier, and more theatrical) portrait of modern teenage life and the world outside, but it's good clean fun and it makes you feel good inside. It's not very deep, but it targets the sentimentality in its viewers. I'm surprised how much I've warmed up to the show.