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I’m probably not in the target audience for Glee; I’m male, a young adult, and I don’t have any major mental deficiencies. In the world of Glee – a forty minute jazz-hands-fest of shiny faced, manically grinning drama school graduates with teeth brighter than the sun – the worst things that happen are vaguely amusing scandals involving pregnancy and someone threatening to close the Glee club. Oh, great.
It really does well to beat the clichés – the camp kid loves fashion, and the conscientious teacher funds the Glee club (“New Directions”) out of his own pocket because he loves the kids so darn much. The headmaster? He doesn’t believe that it can be done, but reluctantly gives in to see what will happen. It may sound familiar, and that’s because it is. It’s basically the plot of every film made during the Eighties. Based on the premise, you might expect every episode to have some kind of four minute musical montage where the Glee club practice for some kind of big competition, and you’d be completely (and depressingly) correct.
Maybe it’s because I’m such a miserable git that I find Glee to be exactly the type of grinning isn’t-the-world-so-wonderful ballcocks that makes me hate everything even more. Honestly though, if I hear one more thing about how brilliant Glee is, or see another horrific cover-version reach the top 10, I’m probably going to burst into flame. Glee fans (I refuse to call them “Gleeks”) have the same manic enthusiasm of those kids in YouTube videos who open their Christmas presents and go mental, and it’s all a little sinister.
Actually I’ve just watched a couple of episodes and quite like it. Ignore everything I said before. Episode 19 of season 1 is directed by Joss Whedon (Buffy, Dollhouse etc) and stars Neil Patrick Harris (Barney, Dr Horrible etc) and it’s a bit more interesting, even though the plot is obviously almost an exact replica of everyone’s favourite film – Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. In the episode, someone comes along that wants to close down the Glee club and must be persuaded otherwise, but other than flagrantly borrowing from a classic movie, it’s less formulaic and actually shows what Glee is capable of when it stops attempting to be so kooky and cynical.
Because it’s not really cynical; it may pretend to be, but in reality it’s a sweet, romantic and incredibly innocent comedy series. It’s soppier than a Britain’s Got Talent sob story and though Sue Sylvester comes out with a few great putdowns, we’ll probably find out soon that she’s got a big mushy warm heart too.
I think I’d prefer it if it was truly bitter and sarcastic. If it was truly cynical, the children would fail their exams, Glee club would have to be shut down, and the school would be closed and demolished so that rich people would have somewhere to keep their surplus pheasants. That’s a show I’d like to see. And if I had to sit through 20 minutes of horrendous miming to see it, so be it.
Also, New Directions = Nude Erections. There, I’ve said it.