Tuesday, January 11, 2011

i think i finally get what's wrong with glee

Apart from it's a teen show that's most definitely not Buffy.

I love old movie musicals, and even some more recent ones, so I should like Glee. I've tried. But it's so annoying. There's a lot about it that bugs me, like breakout star and purported diva Lea Michelle and her what's-his-name costar are insufferable and bland, in that order. But they are not precisely what's wrong with the show.

My mom and daughter love this show, so we keep tuning in and I keep thinking, maybe this will be the week it wins me over. Or doesn't piss me off. But no. It always manages to screw things up one way or another. I'm not a total hater. There are some great moments, which I'm sure is why there are Gleeks. But you have to sort through so much not-so-great stuff. Mostly, any plot line involving the aforementioned power couple and the creepiest high school teacher ever (and I had some skeevy ones), Mr. Schue.
The kid is six going on seven and there is some PG content in the show, but I'm not too worried about her catching some of the make-out sessions. Although she usually conks out by the first commercial break, so it's never an issue. And I keep watching. Go figure.

What I do think isn't appropriate for her (and the rest of us) to watch is how downright nasty they are to each other. I'm not referring to the brilliant Jane Lynch as Sue effing Sylvester. Or even the bullying drinks-in-the-face, although that gets old. It's how Michelle talks to everyone, it's how Will Shuester is constantly a dick to his students and colleagues but we're supposed to like him because he sings an a capella Over the Rainbow and makes puppy-dog eyes? Where's the damn Big Gulp for me to throw?

My daughter dances happily to whatever song they're butchering as I cringe and smile. There are a few good songs, when even I got a little caught up. The Lucky duet between the blonde surfer-looking dude and Quinn the cheerleader was wonderful, as was the Barbra/Judy mash-up with Rachel and Kurt. The all-boy choir doing Teenage Dream. But the music is not the problem, it's the highlight of the show and why anyone tunes in.

The problem with Glee is that it should be about misfits. It should be this generation's Revenge of the Nerds without the revenge. But the show has styled the uber-obnoxious Rachel as a heroine. As whiny as she is, she's no outsider. She's dating the world's most boring ex-quarterback. They are a completely unbelievable couple and keep telling each other and us that they care about each other, but they have no chemistry and give the audience no reason why they should be together. And even more egregiously, they get way too many lead vocals. Michelle is a great Broadway-style singer, but there are a lot of good voices on the show and the amount of screen-time her character of Rachel and lovebird Finn gets is unwarranted. Their characters would be much more effective if they weren't so obviously the stars of the show and so endlessly front and center. More misfits, less star couple.

The peripheral characters are much more interesting. Quinn, the head cheerleader, is everything the character of Finn isn't. Cory Monteith's Finn talks (and talks and talks) about how hard it is to be popular and still want to be in the geek club, but those are just lines from the script coming out of his mouth. Dianna Agron's Quinn actually makes you believe her parallel dilemma. Coach Beiste is a fantastic character, as are cheerleaders Brittany and Santana. If Glee could focus more on the lives of all of the glee club members and less on everyone being in love with Finn (why?), or Rachel being such a beyotch (duh already), the show might have heart and not just an assortment of songs that show up on iTunes.

The show creators seem to understand how to use Jane Lynch. Just a little bit each episode and she always leaves you wanting more. Or maybe that's all her performance. But they could learn from her and try the same technique with the rest of the cast. And let some of the other actors stand in the front of the chorus from time to time. There are some tentative moves in this direction, but not enough yet to convince me that's where we're headed. I'll give them a pass on the Xmas episode. But they need to keep going this way next season. Then maybe I just might finally really like this show and not just parts of it.
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