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Another thing I take issue with is the facile, broad, borderline offensive way they approach the "issues" these characters have. In a recent episode, the kid in the wheelchair gets told about a procedure that could possibly fix his spine and allow him to pursue his ultimate dream of dancing. After a few scenes the show seems to suggest that he did the procedure and they have him leap out of his chair and do an elaborate dance number in the middle of a shopping mall. Obviously, the bait and switch comes, and that was merely a dream sequence. I guess that scene was supposed to feel cathartic, but I came away from it feeling deeply offended at the nonchalance the writers and creators have when dealing with this character's very real situation. There are many other examples of this approach (the one girl's pregnancy, the other girl's search for her mother). I'd like to note that I do know the names of these characters, but the writing of the show generally does not allow any person on screen a life beyond his or her basic archetype, so naming them almost seems beside the point.
The thing I have the biggest problem with is the tone this show takes. I have no problem with the notion of a show with a sunny attitude towards life and all its problems and complexity. The issue I take is when a show grazes over the "problems and complexity" part and jumps straight to the sunny attitude. If this show didn't present people that would appear to have real life problems; if it didn't pretend to address serious issues in an attempt to create the facade of depth; if it was merely a show about young kids with big dreams singing in the school's glee club, I could get behind it and appreciate its positive outlook. The creators made a conscious decision to address things like teenage pregnancy, sexual identity and other real life concerns, only to fail to actually address any of them with any thoughtfulness or care. Thus, the show's happy tone feels like it hasn't been earned and ultimately comes out feeling forced and delusional. In order to "smile though your heart is aching", you have to understand the ache.
With the combination of dreary times and warm weather "Glee" is just what the doctor ordered! Was the plot amazing? Not according to what we're used to. Shows these days seem to continually descend in to a deeper and deeper spiral of darkness. Don't get me wrong, I love it! Prickly characters are called "love-to-hate" for good reason, but there's a reason there is more than one category on the food pyramid. "Glee" is the perfect answer to a well- rounded entertainment diet.
At the very least "Glee" has set itself up to be a showcase for amazing talent including Lea Michele who rightfully earned a name for herself on Broadway with the hit "Spring Awakening" as Rachel Berry and newcomer Cory Monteith as Finn Hudson who may not be as talented as Michele, but was perfectly cast for the part. He does exactly what he's supposed to do which is to keep up with and support Michele who will send chills down your spine.
"Glee" seems like a familiar tale "The football player wants to sing and the unpopular girl also wants to sing!" but when was the last time we really saw this? Okay... disregard "High School Musical." This isn't "HSM." This is "HSM" done right--with real talent--and not actually a musical. The songs are all time-tested and well loved familiar tunes, i.e. Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and the show isn't designed around the songs or for the songs like a musical... you'll know what I mean when you see it!
*Synopsis* A bright eyed and optimistic teacher, Will Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison) decides to revamp the Glee club. He dreams of making it something truly great around which the school can come together. From where we, the audience stand, he came into a glee club already filled with tremendous talent including Rachel Berry who dreams of fame and carving a niche for herself, but what was missing was a strong male lead. To do this Will (nefariously) recruits the star football player who finds himself right at home. *End Synopsis*
There may be moments in the pilot where the not-instant-fan may consider "I'll bet this moment was meant to make me laugh out loud... but I'm not," but I say to you that is not what this show is about. It's about the average... the conceivable, but if you and the people around you just wanted to sing and were good at it too. Most importantly it's a showcase just meant to keep you smiling.
Even if characters were to, in the course of time in the sometimes unpredictable television world, jump into bed with each other or perform a murder, I take comfort in the feeling this show will not be about that. It will be about happy entertainment with an "I wish I could buy the world a Coke" attitude.
Because this show does not have the (ironically) familiar twists, dips, flips, turns and drama other shows offer, I feel the logical grade to assign this show would have to be a B- for being somewhat "undeveloped" by modern standards. (Nobody has been abused to speak of yet.) However, despite the undeniable likelihood this show will never be listed in my top five, even for the year, I can pretty much guarantee it will be the show which I most look forward to watching out of any other. For this reason, "Glee" gets an A+ in my heart and I hope to form a "Glee" club of my own taking place Tuesday nights on my living room couch.
Glee is certainly a welcome summer booster shot of summer fun.
I was all set to love it, in fact. I love musicals and I love a good soapy high school drama--or so I thought I did, before this show began.
This is the show who taught me who I am, by teaching me whom I am not.
I am not a Gleeker. I am not somebody who can get behind a show which represents students surviving some of the most difficult things any student can ever face unscathed because of some innate self-confidence.
I am not all right with treating racism as though it is something which can be solved with a few choice solos and some rad fashion.
I am not okay with acting as though a young girl can survive through to her sophomore year of high school with utterly no friends her own age just because she has a supportive environment at home.
I am not so great with the idea of an episode dedicated to girlpower focusing on Madonna songs, when Madonna is the one female singer who made a career out of prancing around half-naked onstage and "reinventing" herself so that it was impossible to figure out who she actually was ever. I am not all right with the fact that even this episode concentrated mainly on the men's interpretations of events.
Rachel chooses not to have sex not because she does not WANT to, but because she wants to hold onto her virginity. Finn sleeps with a girl who clearly views her body as just one more thing for her to leverage to earn the popularity and success she wishes for. He has no problem with this, apparently, or at least none that would prevent him from sleeping with her. Will almost has sex, but when his partner of choice decides not to go there with him he switches into condescending "Daddy" mode almost immediately. Even this episode winds up being about the men "wising up" to how difficult the women students have it in this society, not the women actually rising up and DOING something about it.
Most of these episodes are about raising difficult issues but not doing anything about it. Discussing issues without taking action is kinda the foundation behind the feminist movement--and is also the reason that said movement failed.
Also, none of the women on this show ever talk to one another except to tear each other down or talk about boys. That makes this show entirely sexist, according to Inga Muscio...and I tend to agree with her.
I believe strongly that Lea Michele has a solid career ahead of her.
I just hope she finds something worthy of her talents. Ditto Kurt.
Nobody gets through their teenage years unscathed. The answer however is not "expressing yourself" in the sense of skipping down hallways singing other people's lyrics at the top of your lungs...it's figuring out who YOU are, what YOU need to say and who you need to say it to.
It is also learning the boundaries necessary to learn to say these things in private, rather than making your entire life a battle for others to decipher what you are actually trying to say versus what others have prepped you to say for a competition.
Express yourself, fine...but do the world a favor, please, and think about what you have to say and why first?
The only real reason why any other episode after pilot was considered "good" was because it wasn't as bad compared to the previous episode aired. Character development was thrown out the window. "Canon" couples have no basis (i.e. just paired because they're the main characters, paired because the series needs more couples, etc.). Rivalries spring up without a legitimate reason, except to add the needed drama and to have a main antagonist. The humor degenerated with each passing episode-- more of an attempt at crude humor that shows that the script writers were just trying too hard.
The sectionals finale was a big disappointment. Instead of setting up for an actual battle between Glee clubs, the competitors were ridiculous rather than challenging. The Jane Adams girls were great in their performance, no doubt, and they could have been made into tough competitors. But adding in kids from the school of the deaf is an example of failed comedy. The final blow was when both of these schools ever did was consent to copying Schuester's set list, and that the judges didn't really give a crap/know about how to professionally judge this competition-- not that there was any. Where's the anticipation in that?
Only highlight for season two is probably the guest stars. Otherwise, Glee's not that different from, let's say, the Disney channel-- unless you're into the dramatized Kids' Bop kind of stuff. Great singers, bad story (or lack thereof).
The lead characters from the adviser to the historically unpopular glee club members are genuinely engaging and attractive, albeit even as occasional subjects of hyperbole.
Our family found it hard to resist the show's charm. From teenagers to parents we were hooked and are anxious for more.
It will be challenging to keep up the level of production demonstrated in the pilot episode, but if Glee manages, Fox will have a truly great hit on its hands.
Lea Michele deserves special mention for her clear, powerful voice and high energy whether moving or standing still. As a sophomore desperate for fame she's credible and her dream doesn't seem impossible when you hear her sing.
First the good. I find the actors to be wonderful (note: I am saying actors, not characters.) With the exception of Finn, whom I've heard most accurately described as sounding like a synthesized Cher, they have some wonderful singers and I am no small fan of Broadway style acting and singing. Lea Michele as Rachel is a shining star among the cast- I will give her that. Although I am bound to begrudge the casting crew for trying to pass off obviously twenty-somethings as high schoolers, I can gladly suspend some amount of disbelief if it buys us better talent.
The music is also tremendous- amazing quality period, not just for a TV show. The range of songs has been great, but I'm slipping in my first problem here: how in the world are they passing off these booty songs in high school settings? The Bootylicious number wouldn't have made it anywhere near a school-sponsored club, and Mr. Schuester singing Bust a Move to his students was reaaallly uncomfortable to watch.
Those quibbles aside, what drags the show down is an entire slate of unlikeable characters and a terribly written story. The only character that you can root for is the villain, Sue, because she is so completely evil and doesn't try to fool us by being all wishy-washy about it. Rachel, the diva is so gratingly annoying, you cannot celebrate the talent she rightly possesses. Finn may be a victim of Quinn's lies, but even when he thinks he's the father of her child, he still pursues Rachel and makes no effort to support the baby. Quinn cheats on her boyfriend and then traps him in a responsibility he does not own. Puck is the worst written character of the series, having completely different personalities and arcs from episode to episode. Kurt is manipulative and catty, and no, his sexual orientation shouldn't act as a free pass for mean spiritedness. Even the background characters display more unappealing traits than good.
But that is nothing, NOTHING compared the poor, poor job they did with the adult triangle. Basically, the writers set out to make Terri the biggest witch they could so everyone could say "aww, it's okay" when Will Schuester would eventually cheat on her with Emma, the school counselor. Only it's not okay. And I really don't appreciate feeling manipulated into a situation where I am supposed to condone cheating. Yeah, Terri's self-absorbed and more than a little dim, but guess what? She's his wife. And maybe, like she said, if he didn't always go off soaking up Emma's adoration to punch up his ego (and don't even try to kid yourself that it was all innocent) she wouldn't have been gone to such extremes to keep from losing him. And for all of Emma's doe-eyed Bambiness, she is going after a married man!
So underneath all the feel-good songs and passionate glances and cute gleefulness that is Glee, here is the heart of the show: it's okay to do really horrible things to other people if it makes you feel better for the time being. Because isn't feeling good now just way better than having to have all those icky feelings that come with deep, meaningful relationships? Wow, that's a message for the generations to come.
It is no surprise that this show arises from the same writer for "Popular" . . . that short-lived and underrated second-tier network series with a similar setting. What is surprising is how well they integrate the music with the story line. What keeps it from being saccharine is the self-awareness and not-even-close-to-subtle wink to the camera that "yes, we are manipulating your feelings from high school." It is remarkably effective. At the same time it is a parody, it still connects us to that time when we all felt like the outcasts in High School. And make us feel like we could have had a voice if we only had a glee club like this one.