I was having second thoughts before I started downloading this. For one, the show is about a high school glee club and you might react as I did initially: I wanted no part of that. I’m not a musicals kinda guy.
I have to admit, however, that no matter what you’ve been led to believe, Glee is not a straight-to-your-face musical. It’s just a show that happens to be about people who sing, and there’s a big difference. People in Glee don’t, for a start, just break out into song randomly and sing their way through their day. They sing in Glee club.
Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) is a high school Spanish teacher who takes over a pathetic glee club filled with misfits. He is inspired by recalling the one time he was truly happy — when he sang in his own high school glee club. In a healthy way, he’s going to channel his nostalgia into making the club, called New Directions, glow: ‘There’s no joy in these kids…. That’s why they all have a MySpace page,’ he says.
This comedy from creator Ryan Murhy (Nip/Tuck) is so good, so funny, so bulging with vibrant characters—that you would actually love it. Glee will not stop until it wins you over utterly.
The show rests on characters so overused that it could have been cliche figures, but these actors bring fresh details to them. Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), the persecuted girl who is so determined to become famous and so convinced of her talent (to which she says, ‘Being anonymous is worse than being poor’); Finn (Cory Monteith), the football quarterback with a voice fit for an ’80s power ballad; Mercedes (Amber Riley), the plus-size diva who believes that she should not be a back-up singer because ‘she is Beyonce, and she ain’t no Kelly Rowlands;’ Kurt (Chris Colfer), the gay guy; Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), a stutterer whose affliction conveniently disappears when she sings; Artie, a spectacled, guitar-wielding geek in a wheelchair; and of course, the ever-brilliant Jane Lynch (as cheerleading coach Sue), the queen of deadpan delivery (‘You wanna be good. You wanna be a star. Face it, you wanna be me.’)
In a nutshell, Glee is all about sparking ambition, getting kids off the sofa and doing creative things. But it also has a healthy dose of sarcasm and skepticism to offset its peppy interpretations of Journey hits. The production numbers show the sweat and constructive criticism that goes into good performances.
However we look at it, Glee is still the little musical-comedy-drama that could…bomb. As terrific as it is, it’s a risk. Why? Because there’s nothing else like it on TV. So far, in the first three episodes, the show has given us its own renditions of popular songs like Rehab (Amy Winehouse), Mercy (Duffy) and Take a Bow (Rihanna).
Honestly, I was persuaded by Glee’s cagey little mind as well as its big, throbbing heart. I think you will be too.