Friday, November 12, 2010

Gleeking out (with guest MKat)

Like so many others, I have been sucked into the fun dancing and singing extravaganza that is Glee. I’m new to it, and have been catching up with season 1 on DVD while watching the new season. The problem with this is that I am watching these great early episodes interspersed with the new below the bar ones and feeling a little dejected. Sure, musicals are known for sacrificing plot to devises that allow the characters to break out in song, and display their feelings about a given situation through the music. That’s the genre and I accept it. The problem is that this season, every episode feels like I’ve missed something, like they are picking up from a point separate from where they left off the previous week. What did Puck do to get sent to juvy? What’s up with the lesbian love scene between Santana and Brittany? What was the point of the Brittany episode, with their weird drugged dream videos? How did it seem remotely ok to have teachers with students in Rocky Horror? And why oh why does the biggest homophobe jock always have to be a closet case himself?

To corroborate, I’m bringing in a guest blogger and Broadway aficionado, MKat. What is your take on what’s been going on this season?

Thank you, Panda, I appreciate your acknowledgement of my superior Broadway knowledge. I’m a bit of a newbie to Glee myself; last Fall I tried to resist any attachment when I saw many friends back in my homeland of Ohio were Gleeking out via Facebook that “Lea Michele is soooo good she should like be on Broadway.” It was then that I realized such an up-and-coming and already established Broadway star like Lea had attracted such UNcultured followers. But with Spring Awakening becoming a distant memory (and realizing Jonathan Groff aka Jesse St. James aka another Spring Awakening star was also joining the cast) I needed my Lea Michele fix. I watched season 1 on DVD in a matter of 3 days leading up to the season 2 premiere so I’m completely Glee-educated when I say WHOA WTF to the show’s sophomore year.

If the show were treated as an actual Broadway show (I realize it is in fact, not a Broadway show), it should have plausible reasons for random acts of song and dance. Using local anesthesia to induce Brit-tastic hallucinations only holds so much entertainment value before you realize there was no point to the entire episode. I learned nothing except that Brittany S. Pearce has a rockin’ body and that I totally get why Santana wants a piece of it. But the second season is not entirely at fault – the seed was planted long ago when Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel stepped on set. The appeal of this show extended beyond the Broadway elite to celebrities of all backgrounds, and it’s gotten to the point where the show has decided to turn the spotlight on the guest stars and tribute an artist by throwing an episode around their music, when it should be the direct opposite. All the glam and bling should be accessorizing the glee freak students, not turning them into back-up vocalists and dancers.

But just as Glee was losing it’s rhythm (save for a few episode-ending Rachel Berry ballads), it’s starting to take shape and take responsibility as a platform to reach out to kids in need of someone on their side. I commend Ryan Murphy for choosing to shed light on problematic bullying, when it’s the natural go-to for comedic relief. However, I disagree with the generalization that most homophobic jocks are just too afraid and confused to come out of the closet. I honestly believe some homophobes are just that – hateful, ignorant, homophobes. It’s too complex of an issue in society to simplify the matter on TV. Knowing the show will continue to address bullying will keep me hoping that it keeps this in mind and also doesn’t relegate the bullying only to issues of sexuality. We all know too well it extends far beyond the parameters of sexual preference.

At the end of the day I’m completely in love with Glee. I was an Ohio show choir girl myself, and although I can’t point out Lima, OH on a map, I love that it’s become a cultural phenomenon. In every show choir or glee club across the country you will find a rag tag group of people who come together from all different backgrounds and cliques purely because they love the art of entertainment, and life is so much cooler and meaningful when you sing about it, duh. I’d break out into song and dance to commemorate the moments of my life if I could. Actually, I live in NYC, this is completely possible and not at all out of the ordinary.

Thanks for having me, Panda! If you’re ever feeling down – just YouTube
flash mobs. My God, I think they could solve world peace.

Thanks, MKat! And let us hope that while we avoid using guest stars for no reason, Glee finds a way to bring Justin Timberlake into the show, in a way that doesn’t create an awkward too much sexy dancing at a high school pep rally (again) scenario. Perhaps he is a distant cousin of Will Schuester. There is a resemblance, don’t tell me you’ve missed it. Like in the first season, having Idina Menzel play Lea Michele’s mother, I couldn’t believe that they aren’t related, that is crazy!
Oh, and just a quick mention on the controversial Glee photo spread in GQ: these are actors in their 20s, and they are appearing in what is unquestionably an adult magazine. So why pretend that they are high school kids doing something inappropriate? Have you seen what Disney star Miley Cyrus has been wearing in concert lately? And she is actually high school age. Not to mention that dressing scandalously in videos and award shows and concerts is exactly what we asked of our teen idols ten years ago (speaking of Brittney, and Xtina, Jessica Simpson, etc). I don’t see why one photo spread of actors, who would be well within their rights to do side projects in rated R movies, should have people so up in arms.
Ok, soap box put away, and blog over!

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