Let’s talk about something that simply should not be nearly as good as it is. As the title of the post might imply, we’re talking about Glee.
Jane Lynch is simply brilliant, under-rated but brilliant. She will one day be recognized as one of the better comedic actresses of her time. Her work on film is notorious and her guest shots on Two and a Half Men are always hysterical, some of the funniest moments on the show. On Glee, she plays the coach of the cheerleader squad, the Cheerios. She is ruthless, deceitful, and astonishingly inappropriate. Jane Lynch at her outrageous best.
And the show isn’t really about her at all. At the center of Glee is a group of young people, a cast that mostly manages to pull off the always problematic illusion that they’re teenagers in high school … despite being in their 20s. More importantly than sustaining that illusion, they have the awesome responsibility of bringing real talent to the show, more than any ability to act. Much like High School Musical, the cast actually must perform the material. They sing and they dance … and they do it quite well.
They form the Glee club, a group of awkward teens and misfits, including a guitar playing kid in a wheelchair. They, and their beleaguered coach, are what Glee is really about. If they don’t work, the show won’t work.
They do. It does.
When Glee actually premiered last spring, the club’s performance of Don’t Stop Believing by Journey became a YouTube hit. I believe it was the most downloaded song on I-Tunes for a while. It was completely cheesy but more than a little fun. Which pretty much sums up the show.
At its heart, Glee is a cliche. But it doesn’t shy away from that. It embraces the cheese and makes a pretty tasty sandwich. There is no laugh track and, if the press on the show can be believed, the members of the cast actually do all their own singing. I admire that kind of honesty. I admire still more when it is wrapped in witty writing and plenty of biting humor.
The musical numbers may feel a bit Disney-esque, but there is nothing HSM about the humor. There is very little goofiness; the humor is much darker than that. There is a very wicked edge to all the funny and you may just miss it if you’re not paying attention.
Still, Glee would be mostly unwatchable if not for one thing. The damn show has heart. Amidst the dark humor, nasty one-liners, and often cruel hijinks of high school, there remains something nostalgic and hopeful. There is a real chance here that the losers may get to win, and why not? Let all of us losers of the world enjoy the idea that someone besides the pretty people can actually win.
We should enjoy it. We need it. And guess what? More often than not, we actually do win.
Glee airs Wednesdays on Fox at 8/9c