Posted on 06 February 2012.
The writers of Glee may think they have found something new, but all they seem to be doing is dressing up brilliant songs in horrible matching outfits.
I found myself flicking through the channels last Thursday night genuinely horrified at what I was seeing. I spent most of my time dodging the vapid stream of ‘reality’ shows and general cheesiness that are spread evenly among our television channels like obnoxious Utterly Butterly. Jems like The Only Way Is Essex, filled with fake tan, fake boobs and fake scenarios that the nation has become addicted to, continuously coming back to devour up more idiocy. I then repeatedly seem to find myself weak and defenceless, watching endless repeats of Whose Line Is It Anyway and Mock the Week on the television channel Dave, the home of the witty banter of yesteryear. Then with a stupid idea that would prove fatal I flicked over to Sky 1; there would surely be a new gritty drama I absolutely needed to watch. But what faced me wasn’t a media masterpiece that would change water cooler moments forever, but the sickly song ruining stylings of a Glee club from Ohio.
Now it seems, from further investigation, Sky 1 has been taken over by hilariously boring imports from the United States and shows very little else. A fine example of this is the Spielberg directed Terra Nova, also known as, Jurassic Park with better graphics. This new show in my opinion ruins dinosaurs for me and the original will forever be a favourite. You may call me old fashioned but I miss the simpler times, when you could see the strings on the Thunderbirds and Daleks could not get up stairs, but it seems that Sky knows what will bring in the viewers.
Glee, if you are one of the lucky souls who have escaped its evil claws is a torturous forty five minute long jukebox musical dramedy. The cast of which is bursting at the seams with weak twenty year old actors attempting to convey true teenage drama and angst whilst singing upbeat musical covers in a choir. But since the introduction of the show to the nation’s screens ‘Glee’ is spreading like wildfire, schools and colleges are even starting their own clubs and no song is safe. No longer is Glee simply a noun but a symbol for outcasts to stand together as a group and scream out ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’ while worrying about what corsage they are going to wear at prom. Individuality should be celebrated and I believe the idea behind the creation of Glee was right, but their casting, direction and writing were way off. After all, they cast an able bodied 20 year old to play a handicapped teenager.
My first issue with this program is that the cast is filled with attractive screen friendly actors attempting to convincingly portray teenage outcasts. Let me point out, a real outcast is the classmate who sits on his own and could quite possibly be plotting the eventual death of his peers, he is by no means jiving with a group of fellow recluses to ‘You can’t stop the beat’. The show, to give it some credit, did a decent piece of casting with the talented Jane Lynch as the destructive Cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester who is out to destroy the glee club. I’m guessing most of her dialogue is taken from angry letters and emails to the producers hankering for an apology at the way ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ was treated.
‘Jukebox musical’, the phrase I mentioned earlier was coined when creative writers died. People like Glee’s Ryan Murphy use old songs from popular artists or musical classics and weave them into their own projects, then you must watch these fine masterpieces suffer at the hands of ruthless Broadway rejects and weak writers. ‘Jukebox musicals’ like the new phenomena We Will Rock You have joined in on changing the entertainment industry. I have seen this musical myself and I did not leave feeling exhilarated, piling into a taxi with my fellow audience members who were still singing Bohemian Rhapsody, I just felt empty. I find it sad that this musical and even the glee cover is part of Mr Mercury’s legacy, encased in a shell of tongue in cheek “sixth form” style acting from which there is no escape. Aside from this it also made me think, did all of Freddie’s band mates secretly hate him and this is their final revenge, to place his classics sung by cast offs in a grave next to him. I had a similar feeling when I saw the Glee cast perform ‘Make em’ Laugh’.
Exposing teens to ‘old’ music is supposedly a good thing according to many reviewers of the show. That they will experience a whole different genre, have a much needed epiphany and step away from high cat calling tones of Justin Bieber and fill their iPods with songs from Singin’ in the Rain. But be realistic, they will be piling sugary auto tuned covers into their IPods not the classics. They will not be hearing the heavenly harmonies of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor of which there is nothing better.
The idea that music needs to be recycled annoys me. Although some do argue that Glee isn’t trying to better the classics; it is trying to introduce the music to a new audience alongside a show they can relate to. But when people think of Glee, they do not think of the gritty drama and ‘true’ representation of today’s youth but something that came from the High School Musical genre. The characters are far from realistic, in one episode the teens vow to never drink again and actually succeed at this pledge. I know I tried to stop drinking after an unfortunate event with a bottle of White Lightning, but a few days later I was back on the Mad Dog 20/20. From this we really see that the writers have no idea about their audience and their plan to introduce old music to the Miley Cyrus generation disappeared at the same time the writers decided to ignore the rules of continuity. Teenagers are not all squeaky clean and sober, nor are they over the top and drunk every weekend. The writers should know this, after all it is their aim to make a teenager drama, but failing that they can just rely on attractive actors to sell calendars, and it seems to have worked for three series now.
Until the point when true harmony is restored and the television channels and stage are making good, honest and original entertainment again and not relying on the talents of others we will have to amuse ourselves for a while. Together we can listen to records of old, laugh at jokes remembered from My Fair Lady and wash that all down with lashings of Ginger Beer. But until then, Top Gear is on Dave and I don’t think I have seen this one. No wait; I have seen it before, I had to calm myself after the news broke that Glee are going to be covering Michael Jackson.
By Emma Smith