Better Late Than Never: Discovering the Glories of Glee

I recently became aware that I have been seriously neglecting my television quota. There are so many new shows I just haven’t seen, and I don’t feel knowledgable talking TV today. I knew something had to change, so I decided to abandon all my other more pressing obligations and spend one night catching the latest episodes of a few popular shows.

Setting out on a Hulu adventure, eventually my journeys led me to Glee. It fit all of my criteria—it’s relatively new, popular, and offers a reasonably high expectation for extravagant showtunes (although I did have to search back to the first season to get my Wicked fix), and has a veritable bevy of aesthetically appealing young actresses.

I sat down on my couch, pre-gamed with some Cats, and let Season Two’s seventh episode, “The Substitute,” roll.

I definnitely didn’t expect to hear the protaganists of Glee described as “loud, bisexual primates” in the first minute of watching the show, but I can’t say I’m disappointed. Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) is crazy. Everything she does and says is outrageous, bordering on uncomfortable. I wanted to look over my shoulder to make sure no one was watching me whenever Sue talked with her steadfastly devoted assistant Becky, a girl with Downs syndrome in a cheerleading outfit and headset. How this happened, I do not know, but I sheepishly revelled in its ridiculousness.

Perhaps Sue rings eerily of Scrubs’ Dr. Cox, but we’ll let that slide for now. As long as I can see this wicked cheerleading coach engage in blackmail, power struggles, schemes to bring down Glee Club, and any other shenanigans she might get into, she’s good with me. I do wonder if my enjoyment of the show will be directly tied to the amount of Sue-time I get—and that brings me to the (sadly) Sue-less parts of the show.

The O.C. fan in me just won’t let me ignore tantalizing adolescent drama. Crushes, boyfriend swappings, substance abuses, prejudices, and overcoming adversities up the wazoo—the laughs, tears, and tugs on the ol’ heartstrings are enough to satisfy any high school soap fiend. But after seeing this episode, I wonder how exciting or original these plot lines could remain. Rachel (Lea Michele) resents anyone stealing the spotlight, Kurt (Chris Colfer) struggles against homophobia, Artie (Kevin McHale) deals with being disabled… After one episode, I feel like I might already know everything these characters have to offer.

I will say one thing Glee got absolutely right: teenage theatre and performance groups are a downright orgy. Most theater-phobic high schoolers probably don’t realize it, but those thespians are getting all intermingled and whatnot, and the show certainly hit the right note (shabang!) on that front. Everyone seemed to be paired off, and none of the pairs look particularly stable. Hopefully there’s enough crazy love triangle action to keep me interested, but honestly, that’s the least of my worries.

This brings us to final aspect of the show: all that gosh-darned Glee Club business. As far as I can tell, Glee is a high-school drama with pop/mashup performances randomly thrown in with no rhyme or reason. The actors are certainly talented singers, but I was hoping that the music would advance the plot and develop the characters. Instead, the cast randomly breaks into song and dance routines that often have nothing to do with the show’s narrative.

One scene opens with the Glee Club’s director Mr. Schuster (Matthew Morrison) breaking into an on-stage rendition of “Make ‘Em Laugh” from Signin’ in the Rain, and then moves on as though nothing ever happened. I was thouroughly confused. I also wonder why the female lead, Rachel, is 10 times better at singing than the male lead Quinn (Cory Monteith), but that’s neither here nor there.

Despite these failings, the songs can be fun. Perhaps I’ll get used to them, and they do add a little spice to the show. If I decide to keep watching I probably should start to appreciate them, as the singing does seem to be the show’s whole schtick, being about Glee Club and all.

In the end, watching Glee was a good experience. It was funny, with enough edge-of-your-seat exciting teenage drama to keep me interested. And those sometimes-awkwardly-choreographed-yet-impressive musical performances might just grow on me. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Glee, it’s not the worst way you could not study for a test.

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