UPDATE: If you’re looking for the song, see here.
I didn’t have a Glee Club at my school, so I didn’t know what to expect when I watched Fox’s new show Glee. Although we sing the praises of Cop Rock and Hull High here, I’m not really that keen on TV characters just breaking into song. Thankfully, Glee isn’t like that. The only songs they’re singing are recognizable, so you’re not jarred by someone singing about perps or similes.
Glee focuses on a teacher, Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison), who was a member of the eponymous club when he was in high school and the island of misfit children he takes under his wing, as he and they realize that the club makes them, well…happy. Gleeful, even. My favorite student character so far is Rachel (Lea Michele). She’s smart, talented, and beautiful–by all rights, she should be a popular kid. But high school don’t work that way. Every day, she uploads a new video of her singing to her Myspace, only to receive such compliments from her classmates as “Why don’t you die already?” and “Please get sterilized.” [Below, Rachel reads her comments.]
And it breaks your heart. Rachel’s talent ultimately requires the club to have a male lead for her to sing with and they find it in Finn (Cory Monteith), a football player who has fond memories of learning to love music alongside his mom and her old boyfriend. Finn’s teammates are less sanguine about his participation in the club and yes, that storyline is shades of American Pie, but it works because these kids are so appealing. You want them to succeed if only because it’s so nice to see the moment when they believe in themselves.
In the same vein, Mr. Schuester’s involvement in the club is also about believing in himself. His home life is not fulfilling, to say the least. His wife hides her Pottery Barn purchases in the closet of her craft room when she’s not straining herself with her “four hours a day, three times a week” schedule at Sheets ‘n Things. That strenuous work schedule, by the way, is why she doesn’t have the strength to prepare her own meals. Working with the Glee Club gives Mr. Schuester a sense of purpose that Spanish class and puzzle nights at home just can’t. Watching the kids come into their own, you see Mr. Schuester becoming his own man as well.
In short, Glee is funny and sweet, which is a little odd to imagine, as it comes from Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy. But of course, before there was a Nip/Tuck, there was a Popular and it’s great that Murphy gets another chance to show off his talent for making a show about teenagers, in all their drama and weirdness and beauty. And I hope Fox is smarter than The WB was.
[See a sneak preview of Glee Tuesday, May 19th, at 9/8 Central after those other singing kids. And after the jump, the trailer for Glee and a bonus treat in the form of my favorite Cherry bomb.]
And of course, Mary Cherry:
Special thanks to seanarther, who is the wind beneath my wings.