Please Don't Stop The Music: Love & Hate For Glee

Illustration for article titled Please Don't Stop The Music: Love & Hate For Glee

Tomorrow, Glee returns, which means everyone will be talking about how much they love it, or how much they hate it. The Fox TV show invokes strong feelings, and there's no middle ground.

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According to the AP, the show is "doing more for music" than American Idol. USA Today reports that Glee "has made the uncool cool." In a piece for the New York Times, Alessandra Stanley writes that Glee is "funny," "maudlin and self-mocking, cheesy and mordantly modern, a shameless rip-off of almost every classic teen movie and also original" and has "subversive wit and cynicism."

But New York magazine is predicting the "inevitable" Glee backlash. And in Jon Caramanica's article for the Times, he calls the musical numbers in Glee "outright liabilities, deflating whatever emotional good will the rest of the show has built up." Plus:

"Glee" may love music, but often it abuses it, with performances wholly lacking grit. In each episode a handful of songs receive similar treatment: antiseptically elated, heavily doctored recordings, with no line between the truly affecting and the genuinely off-putting.

Yet the music is the real success story for Glee: almost 5 million song downloads, two gold soundtracks, a sold-out nationwide tour and lots of buzz for the Madonna episode. Matt Morrison, aka Mr. Shu, is recording a solo album. And it's the music that drew me in, and remains what I like about the show. I may not be thrilled with the depiction of female characters, or the nerds vs. cool kids storylines, but so help me, I love the tunes. Watching people have fun singing — from MGM musicals to karaoke to American Idol — is one of the great American pasttimes. As Jane Lynch, aka Sue Sylvester, tells USA Today:

"It's tapped into part of us that lives in the shadows, that we don't let people see, that's wanting to lift our voice in song and make a joyful noise."

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Exclusive: Glee Rocks Madonna! [TV Guide]
'Glee' A Musical Success As Much As A Cult Success [AP]
Hit Show 'Glee' Sings To Anyone Who Ever Felt Like An Outsider [USA Today]
'Glee': It's The Attitude That's The Showstopper [NY Times]
We Predict The Timeline Of The Inevitable Glee Backlash [New York Mag]
‘Glee': Attitude, Yes, but Without a Song in Its Heart [NY Times]
"Glee" Gone Wild: The New Issue of Rolling Stone [Rolling Stone]

Earlier: Sing It, Sister: Why I Hate Glee

Illustration for article titled Please Don't Stop The Music: Love & Hate For Glee

DISCUSSION

raisin-girl
Raisin.Girl

I watched Glee (as did my boyfriend) with fierce loyalty, and if we missed an episode we consulted the TV guide to find out when it would be repeated and watched it then. But as it went on, my love relationship turned into love/hate.

Like others here, I never understood why everyone went on as though Rachel was the only decent female singer in the group, and I didn't like how their entry at the competition at the end of the season turned into the Rachel Barry Show.

What I found increasingly disturbing, though, was the way the show treated the "background" characters - ie anyone in Glee Club who wasn't Finn, Quinn, Rachel, Puck or Kurt. Kurt is pretty much the creator's avatar for the show, so he got his share of the limelight and a remarkably poignant and dignified coming out episode with his dad. But I watched the first half of the season, enjoying it thoroughly, and figuring that there were a lot of characters to have to get through, and Artie and Mercedes and Tina and the others would get their developed story arcs and solos soon enough.

I was kind of wrong, to a degree.

Artie and Tina had what amounted to a "Very Special Episode", and I couldn't believe that in all the airtime devoted to the Rachel-Finn-Puck-Quinn love quadrangle and Schuester's duplicitous personal life, Tina's confession that she fakes her stammer and Artie's devastation that she'd fake a disability to make life easier while he's got to deal with his for life, for real, was never addressed again. Cuz Wheelchair Guy and Asian Girl had had their moment, you see.

I loved the episode in the first half where Sue took on the minorities and "tokens" in the club in order to create conflict and division and I thought that episode had a biting lot to say about how minority characters are treated both in life and on television. But then, I don't know, maybe the writers/creators were still fumbling about a bit what with it being the first season and all, but I began being a bit disturbed at how little time was given to those specific characters, and how Glee began getting a bit Pretty Singing White Kids With Problems.

In a nutshell, you don't get to make a joke about Mr Schuester referring to one of the kids as "Other Asian" if the show, in fact, does treat that character as the Other Asian.

I will keep watching though. Maybe Mercedes, Artie, Tina et all will get actual storylines next season.