Why are my son and I, so far, glee-ful about the new Fox TV high school dramedy, Glee?
This new series follows an idealistic teacher, Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), “who–against all odds and a malicious cheerleading coach–attempts to save McKinley High’s Glee Club from obscurity, while helping a group of aspiring underdogs realize their true star potential.”
Oh, let me think of all the ways we love Glee:
–Given my ongoing examination of the dark, crazy side of contemporary American suburban life, this show smartly and wickedly picks apart our favorite suburban and public high school archetypes, aspirations, and symbols of success and failure. As Salon.com critic Heather Havrilesky wrote: “Every second of Glee is packed with tasty commentary on the absurdities of suburban American life.
–The show has style, flair, and great musical numbers. There is something fabulously entertaining about watching these teen characters–insecure, awkward, dorky–pulling off badly choreographed but ultimately hip-shaking, bad-ass school choir versions of Kanye West’s “Golddigger” and Salt-n-Peppa’s pelvis-grinding “Push It.”
–And, by the way, any show that showcases the genius of hip-hop gal trio Salt-n-Pepa gets a big thumbs up from me. I hope we’ll be getting McKinley High Glee Club versions of “Shoop,” “Whatta Man,” and “None of Your Business.”
–Did I say the show is smart and wicked? Yeah I did, but it’s worth repeating: “Deliciously mean-spirted behind its ‘Up with People facade,” as Havrilesky wrote. Glee moves with the breakneck speed, sprinkled with the sly asides, of a good farce. For my son and me, Glee ranks up there with our other favorite comedies about suburban dysfunction: the live-action shows, Malcolm in the Middle and Arrested Development, and the animated shows, The Simpsons and The Family Guy. By the way, all those shows are also Fox network products.
–Yeah, Glee is subservive. Last Wednesday, we got to witness a meeting of the McKinley High Celibacy Club, led by perky, bitchy head cheerleader Quinn whose motto is: “It’s all about the teasing and not about the pleasing!”
The meeting ends with Rachel Berry, the Glee Club’s smart, ambitious diva declaring that all this abstinence stuff is silly (You hear that, Sarah and Bristol Palin?). She proclaims that teens should be given information and access to contraception, and–maybe most shocking of all–that girls like sex, too! Well, this declaration certainly grabs the attention of popular quarterback Finn Hudson, who happens to be Quinn’s boyfriend and who has joined the Glee Club because he also happens to be a talented singer and really wants to express himself, too. And, he’s making goo-goo eyes at Rachel.
–Jane Lynch is brilliant as Sue Sylvester, the malicious coach of the Cheerios, the cheerleading squad, who makes it her No. 1 mission to destroy the Glee Club.
–One of the co-creators is Ryan Murphy of Nip/Tuck fame. In an interview with Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air, he said he loves his “loser” characters and wanted, ultimately, to create a series that depicts kids putting everything they’ve got into doing something they love.
–So for all its caustic humor and not-so-clean fun, the show has a sweetness to it, a heart, and some of that “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” faith that, yeah, great things are possible.