What’s the Big Deal About Glee?

7 02 2012

When I was a kid I had three criteria for what I deemed to be a good movie. 1) Kids. 2) Music. 3) And Black people. If a film or TV show had any combination of those three things, I was all in, no matter how cheesy or how lame. I mean, for goodness sake, I used to watch The Perkins Family! Does anybody remember that cheesy 80’s “soap opera” on PBS where all the parts were played and written by kids? From what I can remember, the acting wasn’t so great, the plots were simplistic, the kids played all the adults (imagine a 13 year-old playing the part of a 38 year-old career mom), the set was God-awful. You could see the set shake every time one of the kids walked up or down the stairs.

Even though my taste in film and television has evolved quite a bit, I think I still hold to that same way of thinking at times, hence my strong affinity for the show “Glee.” I know, I know. Stone me now. Call it my guilty pleasure, but I almost see it as a modern-day “Fame.” Sure, us old heads like to think that Fame was better, but trust me, I’ve been watching the re-runs on Netflix. It wasn’t. Glee is just as cheesy as Fame was, just with an extra dose of absurdity mixed with ridiculousness. And that’s what makes Glee great. You can’t watch this show expecting for things to make sense. You just gotta accept that at any moment a full jazz band or two guys with cellos will miraculously show up when you need them to sing the next song. Respect the Glee.

So what do I love so much about Glee? There’s music that I can sing along to–whether it be 80s pop or current Top 40. And there’s kids–well, there’s adults that are supposed to be kids. I love the fact that they write their shortcomings into the show (Cory Monteith can’t dance so his character, Finn can’t dance either which often becomes a punchline within the show). But for me the best part of the show is the writing. As corny as the show can be, they have a funny (and did I mention sometimes cheesy) way of weaving music, story and character throughout each episode. I started watching Glee consistently last season after the Grilled Cheesus episode, which I might add was a nice exploration of teen faith. That episode touched on many of the issues I dealt with pertaining to God and faith when I was a teenager–apathy, hypocrisy, does prayer really work, and apprehension about the reality of God. After that it was the storyline of Kurt Hummel being bullied that kept me watching the rest of the season. That and of course, all the drama between Finn and Rachel. 🙂 I was never the most popular kid in high school, so I can relate to this group of misfits who just want to be in the “in” crowd, and still figure out how to express themselves creatively.

A few weeks ago, I went back and started watching all the episodes from the beginning, and I’ve realized that the writers have been pretty consistent with the characters. Do they do everything right? No. I’ve picked up on some lines within the show that have come off a bit racist (lines that have followed what seem to have become a trend in sitcom TV these days. For example, the constant one-liners about black babies–I’ve heard it in a couple of other shows, not just Glee. But that’s for another post…) I hate the fact that Amber Riley, the only black girl on the show, is always pushed to the background even though she has an amazing set of pipes and can go toe to toe with any cast member (although she does have a bigger storyline this season). The latter half of Season 2 seemed to go a little haywire. There have been some bad episodes. There have been many unexpected twists and turns in the plots, but even in the midst of it all, I’m still drawn in enough to care about what’s going to happen to these characters next…

All that being said, critics are saying that the NBC musical show “Smash” is going to be the new Glee. I watched the preview of the show last night. Smash is a little more rooted in reality. And it’s very New York, which I love. It’s focus is the theater world and making it to the top, rather than high school kids trying to be popular. The writing seems pretty good so far and I’m already a little invested in some of the characters. It’s like Glee for adults, but replacing McKinley High–I don’t see it. We’ll see how it fares. But hey, it’s got music in it so you know I’m all in. 🙂

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