Jumping for Glee

Several months ago, I started seeing Glee-related entries on My Life is Average. Then praise for Glee gradually started to appear before me in other places on the internet, as well. I got curious and started watching the first episode. After about 15 minutes, I decided the show wasn’t worth my time; I’ve become rather cynical about United States TV these days, and the show was looking like nothing special.

Skip ahead a few chapters to a few weeks ago. During rehearsals and between performances and in the green room during performances, many of the cast members were buzzing about Glee. On Facebook, they and some other friends of mine were buzzing about Glee. Finally I got to the point where I realized I needed to try again, to really give that first episode a chance. And I’m really glad I did, ’cause Glee puts glee in my heart.

Glee takes place in a high school setting. The glee club’s coach just got fired for supposedly molesting a student, and the Spanish teacher has decided to take up the slack. This teacher, William Scheuster, has fond memories of his days as a member of the glee club. But the club has fallen from it’s former glory. Scheuster wants to bring it back from the precipice of uncoolness and make it into the nationally recognized team it once was.

As he goes about getting enough students to qualify for competitions and does everything he can to whip the club into good shape, the principal of the school starts pulling from the cheerleaders’ budget to fund the glee club a bit. The cheerleading coach thus becomes the enemy of the glee club, out to destroy it in any way she can.

It’s is a fairly unique show, at least in my experience. It’s a drama show that leans over the fence a bit to chat with its friends in the land of melodrama. Every episode is punctuated with song and dance numbers that pull the show together perfectly. Just about the time I’m ready to facepalm over how silly or dumb the characters are acting, they get all Pirates of Penzance on some classic pop or rock song and I find myself forgiving the melodrama because they found the perfect song to offset it with.

On which note, they do an excellent job of choosing songs for the show. Every song is a cover, and most of the songs they pick are big hits from the last three decades. Most of the episodes have a theme they whip out — songs which have the word hello in the title, mash-ups, and old bad-boy/bad-girl songs to resurrect, to name a few. One episode was chock full of Madonna songs and another was inspired by Lady Gaga’s extreme makeovers.

I’m kinda ashamed of myself for not getting through the whole episode the first time I tried to watch it. After the complaints I’ve been making about what it takes to keep a show on the air these days, I realized that attitudes like that are part of the problem. This is no sweeping epic with a complex story fraught with foreshadowing and/or a deep pool of a story, like Babylon 5 or the original V miniseries; it doesn’t need multiple episodes to build up to the meaning of the show and let the plot develop. It does, however, take most of the first episode to kick into full gear. Watch it until they perform Don’t Stop Believin’, and then decide whether or not you like it.

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