Does Glee’s swag of Emmy nominations make me any less tragic?
Does it make it better, or worse, to confide that the black-and-white habitué and I watch Glee, curled up in the firelight, glass in hand? (The drop in the glass is for me, and my friend sings, purrfectly.)
Glee is like one of those teen conversations: “and that’s all you need to know, about what happened before on Glee!” gushes someone, and I’m, like, WTF?
Because, according to TIME’s TV critic, Glee has “spent most of its brief life to date piling problem upon calamity upon twist. Mrs Tuned In once observed that the show, with its breakneck pace of plot developments, was written like the creators expected it to be canceled after six episodes …”.
Except, it wasn’t. The first season was extended, by the episodes screening here now; it’s on the cusp of a second season; and wiping the Emmy nomination floor, with 19 of them.
“Like the members of New Directions, Glee now realizes it’s a winner — and it's behaving like it knows it,” says TIME.
“New Directions”? Evidently, Mr Schu wasn’t himself that day: that was early days and he hadn’t, as they say on Glee, quite “got his Glee on” yet.
That’s Mr Will Schuester, to you, for whom every schoolgirl’s heart (and her mother’s) beats a little faster, while he role models, square-jawed, for the guys. His Glee club is populated by high school rejects and, well, ‘stereo’ types: goth girl, wheelchair-bound boy with Coke-bottle-bottoms, gay Kurt, fat funky Mercedes, teen mom Quinn, annoying diva Rachel, and Finn, her leading man.
Then there’s Sue Sylvester, athletics and Cheerios coach, author of the ‘Sue Sylvester master cleanse’ (a meal-in-a-glass diet drink — water, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, ipecac, and, sometimes, a teaspoon of sand) and excoriating lines (“I’m going to buy a little diaper for your chin,” she says, to Will, whose chin is cleft as well as square, “cause it looks like a baby’s bottom …”).
They have Issues. Mr Schu sets an assignment. They sing about them.
Glee is a musical, then. Glee has Grease-y fingerprints all over it, without the random bursts of song, because Glee’s creators set rules about that, to try to make the concept less naff: singing is for performances, rehearsals, or fantasy sequences. Singing has a purpose, on Glee — you put your self on show, and, you know, resolve stuff.
There was an episode about living your dreams: Dream On (Aerosmith), I Dreamed A Dream (Les Mis, Susan Boyle), Dream A Little Dream Of Me, they sang. There was the Madonna jukebox episode. Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Lionel Richie, John Lennon, Neil Diamond all make the playlist … this is not children’s television! This is an open invitation for sad old farts of all ages to hold revival parties in the comfort of their own lounge rooms.
Glee lathers the opera in soap. In the space of 20 weeks, Will, who was married, worked nights as the school janitor, to support wife and baby, which meant he shared a ‘moment’ with colleague Emma. Because he thought wife, Terri, was pregnant, except she wasn’t, because it was psychosomatic. So now, he’s getting divorced, and modelling slutty rebound behaviour, upsetting Emma, who has many Issues of her own. So then he rounds up the boys, and they sing What It Feels Like For A Girl. (“Why are you singing with us, Mr Schu?” the boys want to know.)
There’s Rachel’s trilemma between Finn (the real deal), Jesse (unconvincing, deliberately we later find) and Puck, who got Quinn drunk and pregnant, and proposes calling the baby “Jackie Daniels”. Quinn, who led the Cheerios, and was president of the celibacy club, convinces Finn he fathered the baby when they shared a hot tub, although they have never had sex.
LOL — not at poor Finn, certainly not, but Glee is salted with that kind of witty, slightly satirical comment (eg, on the matter of celibacy clubs and ignorance), that makes it clever enough.
Art imitates life, on Glee, and vice versa. The club’s assignment one week is to rehabilitate bad songs: Ice Ice Baby (Vanilla Ice), Can’t Touch This (MC Hammer, complete with Hammer pants), Run Joey Run (Rachel’s choice) ensue. Run Joey Run remains disastrous, and has to be followed up with a bit of good old-fashioned Jim Steinman: Total Eclipse Of The Heart. You just know that, from Mr Schu’s lips to God’s ears, as it were, via the Glee soundtrack, it will be done.
Schu tries out for a Broadway musical, his failed dream; in real life, Matthew Morrison was recruited from Broadway to Glee, and I think we know which is more likely to bring him the Fame.
Glee is self-consciously wry. Schu interrogates Puck about a misdemeanour, “and you are going to sing,” he informs him. “Just come out so we can talk. Or sing about it,” Jesse begs Rachel, who's locked in the bathroom, on Madonna night.
Glee just lives up to its name: there are worse ways to spend a winter Friday night, than uncomplicatedly happy, for free.
And that’s the main thing you missed, on Glee.