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September 13, 2009

Jumping on the Glee bandwagon: a show for suburban high school "losers" like me

Why are my son and I, so far, glee-ful about the new Fox TV high school dramedy, Glee?

This new series follows an idealistic teacher, Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), "who--against all odds and a malicious cheerleading coach--attempts to save McKinley High's Glee Club from obscurity, while helping a group of aspiring underdogs realize their true star potential."
Oh, let me think of all the ways we love Glee:

--Given my ongoing examination of the dark, crazy side of contemporary American suburban life, this show smartly and wickedly picks apart our favorite suburban and public high school archetypes, aspirations, and symbols of success and failure. As Salon.com critic Heather Havrilesky wrote: "Every second of Glee is packed with tasty commentary on the absurdities of suburban American life.

--The show has style, flair, and great musical numbers. There is something fabulously entertaining about watching these teen characters--insecure, awkward, dorky--pulling off badly choreographed but ultimately hip-shaking, bad-ass school choir versions of Kanye West's "Golddigger" and Salt-n-Peppa's pelvis-grinding "Push It."

--And, by the way, any show that showcases the genius of hip-hop gal trio Salt-n-Pepa gets a big thumbs up from me. I hope we'll be getting McKinley High Glee Club versions of "Shoop," "Whatta Man," and "None of Your Business."

--Did I say the show is smart and wicked? Yeah I did, but it's worth repeating: "Deliciously mean-spirted behind its 'Up with People facade," as Havrilesky wrote. Glee moves with the breakneck speed, sprinkled with the sly asides, of a good farce. For my son and me, Glee ranks up there with our other favorite comedies about suburban dysfunction: the live-action shows, Malcolm in the Middle and Arrested Development, and the animated shows, The Simpsons and The Family Guy. By the way, all those shows are also Fox network products.

--Yeah, Glee is subservive. Last Wednesday, we got to witness a meeting of the McKinley High Celibacy Club, led by perky, bitchy head cheerleader Quinn whose motto is: "It's all about the teasing and not about the pleasing!"

The meeting ends with Rachel Berry, the Glee Club's smart, ambitious diva declaring that all this abstinence stuff is silly (You hear that, Sarah and Bristol Palin?). She proclaims that teens should be given information and access to contraception, and--maybe most shocking of all--that girls like sex, too! Well, this declaration certainly grabs the attention of popular quarterback Finn Hudson, who happens to be Quinn's boyfriend and who has joined the Glee Club because he also happens to be a talented singer and really wants to express himself, too. And, he's making goo-goo eyes at Rachel.

--Jane Lynch is brilliant as Sue Sylvester, the malicious coach of the Cheerios, the cheerleading squad, who makes it her No. 1 mission to destroy the Glee Club.

--One of the co-creators is Ryan Murphy of Nip/Tuck fame. In an interview with Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air, he said he loves his "loser" characters and wanted, ultimately, to create a series that depicts kids putting everything they've got into doing something they love.

--So for all its caustic humor and not-so-clean fun, the show has a sweetness to it, a heart, and some of that "Don't Stop Believin' " faith that, yeah, great things are possible.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was on last year, at least for a while. OK. I didn't get as much from it as you. Kinda gets same-old over time. Cute, I guess. Not so daring, really. Not earth-shattering. Sweet and sometimes funny, that's where I'd put it. Good family fare.

Anonymous said...

Soccer Mom, I totally agree with you; this show is hilarious. Your review is so well-written.
Our household is 'loving to hate' the evil Cheer Coach. She is sooooo believable; we know coaches and parents of synchronized dance teams just like her. I don't think that a cheerleading coach exists who doesn't think that the sun rises and sets on cheerleading. Even the principal is afraid of her!!!
Also, my family has already incorporated certain Glee dialogue into our mundane lives: "Is it too much to ask for a glue gun that works!!!" and "I'm on my feet 4 hours a day, for three days a week!!!" Totally hilarious. Our calendar is marked for Wednesday evenings. Enjoy!!!

Anonymous said...

Not to nitpick, Soccer Mom, but those "Shoop", "What a Man" and "None of Your Business" were recorded by the group TLC, not Salt-n-Pepa.

Soccer Mom said...

Dear 2:22 p.m.
Shoop, Whatta Man, and None of Your Business are most definitely Salt-n-Pepa songs. I had the album back in the day, and listened to it constantly.

And 8:52 a.m.: I was not all that wow-ed by the pilot that showed last spring, but I was way impressed by this season opener last week. This episode ranked up there with some of my favorite shows. We'll see if it can sustain that level.

I re-watched this season opener TWICE. Once on my own, and once again with my son. Like any really good TV episode or movie, it got better with repeat viewing.

And 1:50 p.m. Like you, I've got my Wednesday evenings planned out for the forseeable future.

Anonymous said...

"This was on last year, at least for a while. OK. I didn't get as much from it as you. Kinda gets same-old over time. Cute, I guess. Not so daring, really. Not earth-shattering. Sweet and sometimes funny, that's where I'd put it. Good family fare."

Um really? What universe do you live on? The first time anyone in the US saw this was after the "American Idol" finale in May of...THIS year.

I LOVE "Glee"! Speaking as a former high school choir nerd, it is great to see the music nerds getting some love. My high school had a football team that lost every single game, yet more school district dollars poured in to keep that program alive, while our plucky little choir (who was doing great a regionals EVERY year) had to beg and grovel just to stay in business.

This show is awesome - I will be watching all season!

PS - Soccer Mom was right about the Salt-N-Pepa (those songs are NOT by TLC.)

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