Reasons to Watch: Glee
A Musical on TV? Really??
Musicals have a very specific target audience and format. So when the idea was first broached to do a musical television show, I am sure there were many who thought the idea preposterous. Musicals do work in a movie format, given the extra time that can be devoted to plot and music, but how would that work in an hour format? The pilot of Glee quickly quieted most detractors. With a unique blend of irreverence, energy, and craziness, Glee took TV by storm. A musical set in a small town high school where the glee club kids burst into song in the hallways and get a slushy in the face for their efforts, Glee has the heart and sheer talent to plow through any reservations a viewer may have.
Some people find musicals ridiculous. I for one feel the urge to burst into song and dance on a daily basis, but apparently this is not something that occurs in everyday reality. Glee subverts this fantasy atmosphere by grounding most of its performances in a realistic setting. Performances usually take place in class or during competition. If the singing does spill into the halls from time to time, it is usually done in a way that makes it clear the exodus is in the character's head rather than in the actual hallway. Songs and lyrics may have relevance to the plot, but they are not sung for the sake of plot advancement only. The songs are enjoyable, and they make sense in context. The leap of imagination needed to accept these kids singing during the day is not as large as with most musicals, which makes Glee more enjoyable.
A Lot of Talent in One Place
Glee has gained fame for talented actors and singers, and for many of them, this was not the first time they had gained notoriety. From Broadway stars to internet sensations, backup dancers to small town thespians who made it big, here is some background on a few of my favorite actors, only four of the many talented individuals that grace my television screen every Tuesday night.
The sometimes controversial star of Glee has experience on the Broadway stage. Her first role was as Young Cosette in Les Miserables. She went on to act in Ragtime and Fiddler on the Roof. At the age of twenty, she starred in Spring Awakening with fellow Glee actor Jonathan Groff. The musical cast won a Grammy for their work on the album. Her work on Glee has also earned her multiple awards nominations, including nominations for Outstanding/Best Actress in a Comedy series at the Emmys and Golden Globes. She was named on the Time's 2010 list of Most Influential People.
The youngest member of the main Glee cast, Colfer had originally auditioned for the role of Artie Abrams. Producer Ryan Murphy love Colfer so much that he created the character of Kurt Hummel for him specifically. Critics see something special in Colfer's acting as well. He has garnered multiple Emmy nominations and won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in 2011. A big year for Colfer, he was also named on Time's 2011 list of Most Influential People. What is he doing now? He just wrapped up work on the movie he wrote, produced, and starred in: Struck By Lightning.
Before Glee, Criss had a cult following of his own. Having starred in the YouTube hit, "A Very Potter Musical," Criss and his production company Starkid already had devoted fans. With his casting as Blaine Anderson on Glee, Criss gained fame in a broader sphere. In his limited spare time, he still plays sold out solo shows, writes music for shows put on by Starkid, and is slated to replace Daniel Radcliffe (also famous for playing Harry Potter) in Broadway's How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying in January 2012.
As Brittany S. Pierce, her one-liners on Glee are legendary. She may have started out as a comedic plant, but her character has gained more depth in later seasons. She even had a character-centric episode that showcased Morris' true talent: dance. Brittany S. Pierce channeled Britney Spears in a song and dance extravaganza. The first time we really saw Brittany strut her stuff with Kurt along to Single Ladies, it would have come as no surprise to fans of Morris. Her claim to fame was a spot on tour with Beyoncé dancing to that very song.
What Keeps You Coming Back
Something to love about every episode
All television shows, but comedy shows especially, have episodes that fans often refer to as "filler" episodes. These are episodes that have little to do with the plot arc of the entire season. Glee has many fascinating story lines, but not all episodes contribute to the overall advancement of the plot. Usually these episodes would be less enjoyable than more plot heavy ones, but with Glee there is always something to enjoy. The season two episode Rumours, for example, did little for me plot-wise, but the song selection from the Fleetwood Mac's similarly titled album produced some of the best vocal performances of the season, in my opinion. The mixture of story and music ensures that there is always something to enjoy.
Another great aspect of the show? Glee started off strong with a focus on characters and interpersonal relationships. That has never truly been lost, but the focus deviated slightly to include guest starts and tribute episodes. Season three promises to be a good blend of character focus, performance selection, and the occasional guest star. While the recurring actors on Glee are brilliant, it is also enjoyable to see the talented Gwyneth Paltrow burst into song as a substitute teacher, or the brilliant Broadway stars Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel singing their hearts out on stage while also interacting with the students of William McKinley High.
Bravura performances by minor characters
As mentioned briefly before, minor characters like Brittany S. Pierce can have small moments that steal the show. While the core characters that are Kurt, Rachel, and Finn have brilliant comedic moments, the surprise of one-liners from Brittany, Santana, or Sue Sylvester (played by the amazingly talented Jane Lynch) are often the highlights of an episode.
Buy the Music on iTunes
- Glee: The Music, The Complete Season One by Glee Cast
All the covers on Glee are fabulous in their own right. Pick your favorite from season one.
- Glee: The Music Presents The Warblers by Glee Cast
Season two incorporated more current music and even more hits. Check out the songs covered by the Warblers, the all male a cappella group that skyrocketed to fame with their fantastic take on Katy Petty's "Teenage Dream."
One of the fabulous things about Glee is that your love of the show can find sustenance beyond an hour of television a day. Networks (FOX in particular) have discovered that money can be made by connecting their television shows to music available on iTunes. American Idol was the first to really make this leap, but Glee truly capitalized on it. All songs covered on the show are available for purchase on iTunes the same day the show airs. This highlights that most actors on the show are singers as well.
So it should come as no surprise that the actors on Glee are entertainers in their own right who have taken their show on the road. The Glee Live Tour has traveled the country for two years now following the finale of each season, and its popularity was so great that a 3D movie based around the concert was produced this year.
The music from Glee keeps the joy of the show going all year long, be it through your iPod or live on stage. And the mania extends to the actors themselves. Stop by a magazine stand on a monthly basis, and it is likely you will see one of the Glee actors gracing the cover of at least one periodical.
Why Aren't You Watching?
Theoretically, my love for this show could keep me "singing" its praises for many days and many articles, but I feel I must contain my enthusiasm a bit. There are many reasons listed above that should get you to watch Glee. Even when fans are not as happy about the direction of the show, there is something that keeps them coming back for more. If you are not already apart of Glee's enormous fanbase, I hope you will give this amazing show a chance and watch with me this season.