Monday, February 6, 2012

Glee (2009 TV) Part I

by DionysusPsyche

Glee is an American comedy drama spun from the apron strings of the reality show American Idol inspiring shows like Smash. Will Shuester (Matthew Morrison), William McKinnley High's Spanish teacher, is put in charge of Glee club to restore its glory. A former champion at Glee's competition circuit, Will sees New Directions (the name he coins the club) as not only an honor for him to direct but a mission to help the students reach their full potential. However, he has a lot up against him like his wife, Teri (Jessalyn Gilsig), the head of the cheerleading squad, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), and a plethora of students reluctant to step foreward for fear of a slushy in the face—literally. The Glee club is noted one of the worst things they could do for their popularity.
Will recruits misfits and popular students, bringing them together despite their differences to sing out songs which also help them solve and salve their social issues, relationship problems, and life's shortcomings. Somehow, someway, with encouragement, hope, and a lot of talent, the Glee club takes off and tackles not only perfecting their abilities but honing their togetherness.

New Directions is made up of all kinds of kids from all walks of life. Two main jocks who receive flack and lose popularity because of their participation in Glee. Three cheerleaders start as undercover spies for their squad and flicker back and forth as to their true calling. One preppy gay boy, a stuttering, alternative Asian girl, a future Beyoncé, a kid in a wheelchair, and one over-zealous, pushy girl who wants to go straight to the top. The most fitting song they've ever sung is “The Island of Misfit Toys,” for one of their Christmas specials.
Each year, at least one episode is artist centric, like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Lady Gaga. They also do musical episodes, mash ups, and themes. There's always a famous actor/actress guest star like John Stamos (Full House) and Gwenyth Paltrow who play reoccuring characters on the show. When one of the characters goes through a particularly hard time, the group will dedicate entire episodes to platonically serenading the classmate (and occasionally romantically from or to different parties).

Things I Like About the Show

Singin' in the Rain”
They can all belt it, and the one guy who “can't” learns. The cast also did concerts while on hiatus from the show, made a movie, and did a number of charity events. They do have talent, and they do stick together.

Walk the Walk
Even when they fight onscreen, they are best friends in real life. Two of the cast (Lea Michele and Dianna Agron) are real life roommates, or were the last time I checked. This cast does stick together and even watch the episodes together when they air. To make it work, they all merge into an all mighty force—just like on tv.

Lights, Camera, Action!
While I have some believability, writing, and continuity griefs with the show, the cast play their parts amazingly well. Many of them did Broadway before coming to the show (including their famous guest stars), and the ones that didn't like Mark Salling and Cory Monteith have other musical talents—Salling is in a band and Monteith plays drums.

Happy and Sad, it's the Same Face
It can be amusing and completely serious, but not in an ironic way. Watching the show lifts your spirits and gives you hope. The characters are quirky, but they also desperately depend on each other for survival. The things they do for each other can make you cry with joy (especially the parent-children combinations) or shrink back with disgust.

Things I Dislike About the Show
Friend or Foe?
The writers can't decide whether Sue Sylvester should be the conniving coach or a friend to the Glee club. Every other episode and every other month has her playing one side or the other—although in addition to being a big bad, I think of her more in terms of a villain with good publicity. If they are trying to show the vulnerable side of Sue, they express it poorly. The audience understands within the first two seasons that Sue is not a super villain, but rather an unhappy coach who sees Glee as an infringement on her Cheerios and a constant reminder that she isn't so lucky to have the same cohesive family that the New Directions have. She's rather like the old man from the Scooby Doo episodes who ends up being the ghost. She wouldn't get away with it “if it weren't for you darned kids!”
There is a big push on the show to keep viewers on their toes. Enemies are everywhere, even in our friends, and Glee reminds us every time. Despite the fact that “I like you/no, I don't” card is overplayed among the members of the club and the adults (and both of them together), it is a poignant social problem that high school students face. Things are childish, but this is supposed to be high school, which brings me to my next problem...

What's My Age, Again?”
Never for one minute do I ever forget that these kids aren't all in their 20's. It's like the kids from The OC being 10-15 years younger than their parents. Of course, they can't have real life high school kids playing these roles, and the issues they raise are real, but it does distract. They couldn't have actual underagers crossing the line with sex and teachers, etc.

You Kids Change Partners More Times Than Square Dancers!” --Kitty from That 70's Show
Not only are friendships and evildoers around every corner, but so's the character that's planning on stealing or getting back their significant other. For love or just because they feel like it and the show has a couple minutes to kill.
Rachel and Finn are the quintessential couple on the show. Yet, they give Ross and Rachel from Friends a run for their money with their hot and cold romance. An internet fan even made a chart to explain all the complicated relationships the kids have had. I won't go into that here, but just know that everyone has played sloppy seconds to just about everyone else. Ew. Again, reminiscent of high school at its worst and also television on the go.

The Girl with the Golden Curl
When this show is fantastic, nothing can beat it. The songs are snappy and true, the costumes are out of a Broadway Musical, and everyone has center stage (yeah, they do mix it up, although some characters don't get as notable screen time/songs as others). They touch on every fathomable problem, and it can be laugh out loud or cry in your chair.

That's about half the time. Half the time, I am clapping and applauding and wondering if I can download the song on iTunes. The other half, I'm skipping every song and yelling “no one cares! How stupid do you think we are?”

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