Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This is not going to go well...

Very belated, I would like to share a few thoughts on this years "most anticipated new show," Fox's Wednesday night addition, Glee. I quite liked the pilot, when it aired at the beginning of the summer, but I wasn't really sucked in until the second episode which aired last week. Glee is created by Ryan Murphy, who brought us Popular and Nip/Tuck, and a lot more of his biting humor was present in the second episode than in its PG predecessor.

The adult roles on the show are Will Schuester, played handily by Matthew Morrison (whom I recognize only from an episode of Ghost Whisperer that I watched by accident) as a passionate and optimistic loser. He has a lot going for him, but many obstacles between him and happiness. One such obstacle is his neurotic wife Terri (played by the always-welcome Jessalyn Gilsig - another Nip/Tuck presence), whose financial woes, hysterical pregnancy, and controlling behavior make me wonder how she and Will ever got together in the first place. I think they were supposed to be high school sweethearts, which just makes it even more tragic.

In stark contrast to Terri, there is Will's coworker Emma, the school's obsessive compulsive guidance counselor. The adorable Jayma Mays (Heroes! Ugly Betty!) is wonderful in this tight-lipped but hilarious role of the girl who's hopelessly in love with a married man, but adult enough to know better.

Will's ultimate foe is Sue Sylvester, as played by Jane Lynch, whom I want to accompany me everywhere in my daily life, I am such a fan of hers. She is absolutely wicked to the core, and brings her negative energy to her job as the "Cheerios" cheerleading coach. As the school funds are balanced precariously between her team and the fledgling Glee Club, her one mission is to bring Will down, but I think he is hardy enough to hold his own against her. Sue also has about 90% of the show's best lines, and I heard Jane Lynch (who is a wonderful improviser) say in an interview that she never feels the need to improve on the script.

The kids are, frankly, less interesting. Our main girl is Rachel, who is awesome. She's played by Broadway star Lea Michele, who originated the role of Wendla in Spring Awakening, which I think is inspired casting. She's so much more talented than most of the primetime teen show actors, and her voice is incredible. Her character is such a hilarious exaggeration of an archetype that it's just like a giant wink to the audience the whole time. She's desperate to become famous, and in her mid-teens, feels she's almost too old for success (embarrassingly, I totally empathize). She'll be ruthless in her pursuit of fame, but is dealing with nerdiness, insecurity, and a desperate crush on Cory Monteith's Finn, the bumbling jock with a bitchy Cheerio girlfriend and a wonderful voice.

The other kids in the show are just cookie cutters, and I really think that this needs to be worked on. Mercedes, the plus-sized black diva; Artie, the paralyzed nerd; Tina, the stuttering Asian-American Hot Topic customer; Kurt, the effeminate gay kid; and Quinn, the Christian blonde Cheerio who is Finn's girlfriend. There is pretty much no depth to these supporting characters beyond their stereotypes, and if any one of them is going to get fleshed out, it is likely to be Quinn, which I think is a disservice to the rest of the diverse cast.

I am very excited to tune into the show's third episode tonight, which I think will feature more of Gilsig. Also, I would like to remind everyone of last week's best exchange (paraphrased):

Emma: Rachel, are you throwing up in there?
Rachel: No.
Emma: Then what's that next to you?
Rachel: The girl who was throwing up in here before me left that there.
Emma: Rachel...
Rachel: I tried throwing up, but I couldn't! It's like I have no gag reflex or something.
Emma: You may find that comes in handy later on.

I hate to laugh at bulimia jokes, but I do anyway.

Finally, if you are wondering about this post's cryptic title, I am worried about this show. It is unique, and hilariously well-written, and has a rabid fan base. And it's on Fox. If that network does to this show what it did to Arrested Development, Firefly, Futurama, and Family Guy (for a time), then I think many "Gleeks" will be very disappointed. It's currently on just before SYTYCD, but in a few weeks, that show will be switching to a 2-hour format, so where will that push Glee? Friday night at 10pm or something horrible, I'm sure. I am not optimistic about it's chances if it moves around without a solid lead-in.

Glee airs Wednesday nights on FOX at 8pm.

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