I’m not exactly sure why I started watching Glee. I certainly don’t like singing, I don’t like dancing, and I most definitely didn’t like high school, so it would seem I’m barking up the wrong tree here. But alas, they put the series premiere on Hulu, and it was better than working, so here we are, four (five?) episodes in and now I’m ready to give my verdict.
Glee is an ambitious concept, given the extreme popularity of another high school based musical in recent years. But HSM has little to do with Glee, and I don’t think the audiences will overlap at all. In fact it’s not really, clear just WHO Glee is aimed toward, and frankly, I don’t think they really know either.
The premise is fairly simple. A high school teacher wants to relive his glory days in Glee by re-starting the team from scratch. He assembles a bunch of school misfits including a fat black girl, a handicapped kids, an emo asian girl, a flamboyantly gay kid, a wannabe superstar overachiever and a the jock who can secretly sing but is totally embarrassed about it. This is while he has to deal with a wife who’s A) psychotic and B) desperately wanting a baby. He flirts with the guidance counselor at school while trying to avoid a power hungry butch cheerleading coach.
The problem with Glee is that it doesn’t really do anything new, and what it does do, it doesn’t do particularly well. The concept of a jock that is embarrassed to be a performer is nothing new (see the aforementioned High School Musical), but when the show has everyone in the school, jocks, teachers, coaches, all singing and dancing up a storm by the third episode, that doesn’t really hold much weight any more.
The same goes for an epic number of love triangles that are more annoying than cute. There’s Will, the Glee coach, and his flirtation with Emma the guidance counselor. It’s supposed to be all “Oh, that’s so wrong, he’s married with a baby on the way, even though they’re clearly meant for each other” but then the show loses us completely by having Will’s wife FAKE having a pregnancy for….I don’t even know why actually. When her doctor tells her that her symptoms are imagined, and she’s not actually pregnant, I can’t think of any logical reason a person would keep that charade up. You instantly lose any and all respect for the character, and will now proceed to hate every minute she’s on screen dealing with an idiotic fake pregnancy.
Glee isn’t too good with the whole “believable character” thing at all really. Jane Lynch is a great character actor, but her turn as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester is just plain dumb at times, as in the last episode she made the statement “Not many people take a pro-litter stance, but I won’t rest until each and every inch of this state is covered in garbage!” Is that even a joke? Just because it’s something that no sane person would ever say doesn’t automatically make it funny.
But character problems aside, Glee isn’t all bad. The musical numbers really are quite enjoyable, as it’s something you hardly ever get to see in a network TV show (unless you watched that musical Scrubs episode). The problem is, the show doesn’t really know when to call it a day. It was hilarious to watch the gaytacular Kurt perform Single Ladies in a unitard in his basement, but during the episode, they went on to stage FOUR SEPARATE DANCE NUMBERS all set to that same song. I know licensing rights are hard to come by, but come on!
The cast is about evenly split in terms of talent. On the side of good are Chris Coffer’s fabulous Kurt, Lea Michele’s talented Rachel and Will himself, Matt Morrison, who does a good job keeping the cast together. On the side of evil are Cory Monteith’s Finn, who can’t even play a dumb jock convincingly, Lynch’s aforementioned insane Sue Sylvester , and Jayma Mays borderline schizophrenic Emma. Everyone else just sort of fades into the background.
In one word, the problem with Glee is the writing. There are some truly great lines to be found in the show, (“My name is Kurt Hummel, and I’ll be auditioning for the role of kicker!”), but the plotlines are a complete mess, we end up hating half of the characters or not believing they’re real people. I applaud the show for trying something different, but unless the show finds its rhythm, it’s probably going to be curtains for Glee.