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What's So Great About Glee?
What is the big freakin' deal about this Glee show, anyway? Turns out a lot more than you thought.
Glee is a smash. That's amazing. In both senses of the word.
The television show (Tuesdays, 8-9pm EST on Fox) is, for one thing, a musical. This makes it, on the one hand, not exactly a likely contender for huge popularity. Especially since it's aimed at teenagers, most of whom are probably not too familiar with the musical films and shows so popular in generations past. That Glee is such a huge hit has to be a testimony, at least in part, to the magic of the musical. Not since the ill-fated Cop Rock (Steve Bochko's gritty crime drama which tried, without commercial success, to straddle the musical genre) has a tv program with characters suddenly breaking into song been so wonderfully received.
It's probably also due to the undeniably incredible singing of the cast. It's virtually impossible not to tap your toes or be moved when under the spell of these insanely talented performers.
Then, there's also the fact that the show brilliantly showcases music from a huge variety of genres. Far from just appealing to the youth of the millennium, Glee serves up 80s rock, musical theater, hip hop, 70s rock, dance music, 60s pop music, easy listening, and songs by such varied legends as Madonna, Queen, Kiss, Barbra Streisand, Lady Gaga, and Katie Perry, just to name a few. There's even great variety within genres - in musical theater, Glee does songs from "Gypsy" and "Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Funny Girl" and "Rent". In this way, every generation comes away feeling as though the show uniquely "gets" them.
The show also deals with gay issues. So? You're thinking. Tons of shows deal with that now. Yes, but Glee sensitively handles the gay issues of teens, who have the usual youth angst with the added burden of being gay on top of it. It also has a gay storyline which is not so much look-these-characters-are-gay as it is this-is-a-storyline-people-can-relate-to-with-characters-that-just-happen-to-be-gay. Kurt's crush on Blaine could easily be any crush. And yes, there are uniquely gay plots, such as Rachel being interested in a boy who turns out to be gay. That is also very easy to relate to for many women.
The gay theme also dovetails nicely with another of Glee's basic themes - being different. Who can't relate to that at one time or another? The kids in the Glee Club are all ostracized daily just for being in the group - in fact, the logo of the show is a hand making the l as in "loser". Another wonderful message the show gives is that even the jock, the cheerleader, the bad boy, and all-around talented kids are mocked and put down - but that they rise above it, day by day. This is yet another way that the show reaches out to a diverse cross-section of people and embraces them, tells them it's okay to be different.
Glee deftly handles serious issues (teen pregnancy, divorce, teen and adult drinking), then turns around and makes us laugh (Sue Silvester as the Grinch, Brittany's one-liners, Emma's guidance counselor brochures). The characters, and the show, don't take themselves too seriously, as evidenced by, for example, the inside jokes about the overabundance of Journey songs performed.
All in all, Glee is like your best friend - it knows when to joke around, when to be serious - and like any best friend, we love it and hope it never goes away.