Couch Pumpkin: Sofa Adventures
News and reviews for the big and small screens…where potatoes fear to tread.

All singing, all dancing ~ Glee

The cast of Glee.

The cast of Glee.

The pilot for hot new show Glee aired absolutely ages ago, but it’s now running as a full series and is well worth checking out…unless you’re like my boyfriend and are a soulless hater of musicals.

The show follows a group of misfits who attend their high school’s ‘Glee Club’ (if, like me, you have no idea what one of those is, wiki tells me it’s a choir that specialises in short songs. They also seem to do dance routines that can be highly elaborate). Self important Rachel (Lea Michele) believes she’s destined for stardom but is at the bottom of the social heap; mouthy Mercedes (Amber Riley) longs to fit in; flamboyant Kurt (Chris Colfer) starts every day by being thrown into the dumpster by the football team. Leading them is the absolutely adorable Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), a teacher who rediscovers his creative talent.

With its colourful songs and dance routines, it’s hard not to compare it to that behemoth of tween entertainment, High School Musical. In fact its plot strays perilously close to HSM when sensitive jock Finn (Cory Monteith) discovers his hidden talents and joins the group, scorned by bitchy cheerleading girlfriend Quinn (Dianna Agron). Jane Lynch’s antagonistic cheerleading coach Sue also helps to set up a sports-music conflict that is again slightly derivative. However, Glee is manifestly not for kids – it brings in the snarky jokes you wish were in a Disney movie as well as not shying away from exploring the sex lives of both teachers and pupils.

It’s certainly not as irreverent as Ryan Murphy’s previous high school series Popular, a great favourite of mine that managed to mix surreal humour, satire and regular teen soap fare. Popular was somehow more self aware, whilst Glee plays into stereotypes a little too frequently to make it comparably excellent. At points, however, it does manage to capture this funny/serious blend, especially when it focuses on the teaching staff – Jayma Mays’ vulnerable yet comic turn as obsessive counsellor Emma is a great example of this.

Some have remarked that if the songs were taken away from Glee it would be a flimsy story. This may well be true – the characters are hardly explored in depth and there’s a tendency for the characters to spout trite lines extolling the virtues of being oneself or letting one’s true talents shine etc. etc. The songs are a fundamental part of the show’s appeal, though, and make it infectiously good fun – that is, if you’re prepared to not take it too seriously.

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