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Review of Glee

Episode Aired:  30 September 2009 on Fox

Last week I promised that I would update my review of Glee.  It is only that (misplaced?) sense of obligation that brings me back to my keyboard this morning.

The producers certainly know how to milk the addition of a guest star.  Kristing Chenowith dominated the episode with her acting and her musical numbers.  That’s the good news.

The bad news?  Her magnetism on screen simply magnified the absence of genuine star power in the recurring cast.  While some of them have glimmers of adolescent charm, none of them truly shine.

The characters continue to be drawn in sweeping outlines of the writers’ pens.  None has any real dimension in the evolving continuity of what is supposed to pass as plot.

In my struggle to find meaning in all of this, I have begun to sense that the chracter, theme, plot and conflicts are nothing more than a framework for the performances.  Perhaps I could enjoy this more if I could make myself think of it as a variety show with intermissions of dialogue filled mush.

I have found seven high points in last night’s episode, however:

  1. Kristin Chenowith’s first number
  2. The sexily romantic Channel #5 commercial
  3. Kristin Chenowith’s second number
  4. The surprising sexy commercial for Edge women’s deodorant emphsizing a nicely formed male torso
  5. The too brief shot of Mark Salling’s character exiting the shower
  6. Kristing Chenowith’s third number
  7. The closing credits

Feel free to tell me how wrong I am by using our share with the gay community form.

 

Episode Aired: 23 September 2009 on Fox

I want to become a big fan of Glee.  I believe that adolescent dramas with a touch of humor can be superb television.  Take a special look, again, at My So Called Life as a prime example.  Truly good television series take a while to develop characters and themes, so I don’t want to rush to judgement too soon.  At this point, I’ll just take a look at (as I write this) the most recent episode.  I hope that Glee will be worth a later look on this website, perhaps a look that will include a more wholehearted endorsement. 

On the positive side, we have several noteworthy elements:

  • A gay adolescent, Kurt Hummel, bravely played by the superb Chris Colfer
  • A high school football quarterback, Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), secure enough in his identity to stand up against homophobes (something more than non-fictional Fox employees are willing to do)
  • An as always superb performance by Jane Lynch in her role as the wicked cheer leading coach
  • Clever choreography, some inventive writing and a touch of diversity in casting

However, at this point, those are not sufficient to score a standing ovation in my world.  Let’s look at some other elements of this episode that more than compensate for the strengths.

Gay Adolescent Portrayal

Kurt Hummel is not the typical gay high school student, although he may be what many people view as typical.  Most of us were not such good dancers in high school, and, if we were, we often tried to hide that fact.  Most of us were not so pretty, nor so short or weak.  And most of us did not know at the age of three that what we most wanted in the world was a “pair of comfortable heels.”

Don’t get me wrong, here.  I do not hold a grudge that the producers chose to have the gay boy be a stereotype.  After all, even as a stereotype, he seems lovable enough.  He’s kind, thoughtful and amazingly talented.  He’s also damned courageous.

But it looks like a fairly big high school.  Can’t we have just one more gay boy who doesn’t meet the stereotype?  He doesn’t have to be a football star or a jock of any sort; just a normal, everyday teen.  Someone about whom real life gay junior and senior high school kids could say, “Yeah, that kid is a bit like me.”

Women Are Deceptive and Manipulative

There are five females of importance in the episode.  One is Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) who is a talented egotist.  Compared to the other four, she is almost heroic.  Her actions are only going to destroy the glee club.

Terri, the wife of super teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) conspires with her friend to deceive the unsuspecting teacher into believing that he is becoming a father.  Meanwhile, Quinn Fabray (Diana Agron) is working on her own ruse.  She convinces apparently perfect in every way quarterback Finn Hudson that his incident of clothed in the hot tub pre-premature ejaculation has impregnated her.  I haven’t seen such despicable women since the first season of 24, which I subsequently stopped watching for that reason.  Wait…wasn’t that a Fox show, too?  Did Rupert Murdoch’s mother abuse him?

The final manipulative Femme Fatale is Sue Sylvester.  I’ll give Glee a pass on this one.  She is the antagonist of the entire franchise.  Without her there is no drama, and Jane Lynch does everything with such panache` that she brings a much needed quirkiness to the female side of the show.

Some Depth and More

Mark Salling’s character, Noah (Puck) Puckerman brings some hope of depth to the primarily flat “range” of characters in Glee.  In him we find the moral struggles that the others manage to ignore.  His battle with himself in trying to balance what is hurtful, what is truthful, what will keep his lifelong friendship and what his price for violating that friendship (a cardinal straight rule) is the only thing interesting about Glee beyond the welcome and too rare relief of campy humor.

Oh, wait!  There is one more thing that is interesting.  Salling, himself, in all his physicality. 

 

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