Friday, September 18, 2009

Glee - In Review

So I was tempering my excitement for Glee when it came on this season. I thought it was an excellent idea. The time seemed right in popular culture, with American Idol, SYTYCD and other such shows becoming huge, and even movies like HSM bringing in absurd amounts of money. Add to all of that the fact that FOX apparently spent their entire marketing budget on spots for Glee. These damn kids were EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME.

So anyway, I know Kevin McHale (wheelchair kid) pretty well from an old job, so I was definitely rooting for him and the show, but overall I've been underwhelmed. The songs are... ok. The plot is weak and with few exceptions the characters are WAY cliche. Talk about stereotypes... I realize that to some extent that's the goal, a la Breakfast Club, to create identifiable characters that everyone can identify. Hey look, there's the football player, and the cheerleader. There's the dork, and the closeted gay guy. Oh and there's the soulful black chick. I get it, but c'mon. These characters could have SOME depth, couldn't they? I feel like these characters are about as complex as the characters in a play I wrote when I was in high school. And to dispel any notion of my talent as a playwright, it wasn't a good play.

Regarding the plot elements, I have some issues. Much like the characters, the plot is very cliche, and really doesn't seem to be trying to be anything different. Not to mention, of course kids in high school may talk about things like abstinence, sex, etc, but I can say definitely that they do NOT talk about them the same way these kids to. Even things as simple as the word choice that the kids use are phony and impossible to accept. Hell, I know graduate students (a lot of them) that don't use language like these underclassmen in high school. Please. It just rings false in most every way.

All of this is bad, but if the main premise was carried off effectively, all could be (would be?) forgiven. However, what's the biggest offense? The musical numbers. The very backbone of the show is music, with some dance, and in general they fail on every account. I thought it was a brilliant premise. People like music, people like pop music, people like dancing, and people like seeing kids their age putting on a show. I also realize that there is no way to realistically have the actors perform the songs live. The quality would be weak, and in general it would fail. However, there are a few things they need to get together in short order:

First, FIX THE LIP SYNCING. Damn, this seems like the most obvious thing they could accomplish. If they are going to lip sync, I'm fine with that. In fact, most professional pop singers lip sync most of their concerts, but they also practice the lip syncing, so it doesn't look fake. For a show based around music, one would think the cast might practice lip syncing. Either they are practicing, and are just terrible at it, or they are not practicing, in which case... it's embarrassing. It's not a hard fix, but it's an important one, and it needs to get better soon.

Second, stop over producing everything. Some of the songs I'm fine with. When the songs are really internal monologues, (Take a Bow in "Showmance" and Bust Your Windows in "Acafellas") I don't mind them sounding over produced. I can buy "that's how it sounds in their head." Fine. But the actual performances, like "Push It" or "Gold Digger" are obnoxiously overproduced. If you want to showcase talented performers, and the cast is filled with talented performers, LET THEM PERFORM. These songs are more overproduced than the original songs they are copying. If your "glee club" singing along with a single keyboardist sings "Gold Digger" and it sounds MORE produced than Kanye freaking West, you've got an issue. Step back, and don't force it down our throats. Good music + Good performers = Entertainment. No need to do anymore.

This show could be (will be?) huge for FOX. They got 7.3 million viewers for the premier this year, a solid second behind "America's Got Talent" (really? who watches that crap?). There's a lot of money to be made in iTunes sales, karaoke sales, soundtracks, and god only knows what else, but they need to get their show in order quick, or I'm over it. I doubt I'm the only one, do you have any thoughts? Am I crazy? Anything to add?


  1. No, I agree with you. They should pick better songs. They should sing them like half a dozen students with a piano. They should definately fix the lip synching. It might be the actors fault, but i still think the editing/dubbing needs some work.
    This show has been overly marketed. Everytime you turn on the tv, it's Glee this Glee that. It's the best show on tv, blah blah blah. It's the best premise on tv. But this show needs serious work. It's not the best anything, right now.
    I do want this show to succeed. I have a reputation for watching really crappy shows, which i admit are crappy, but i stick with them because i can see the silver lining. First season shows almost always suck. But i'm wondering how much more of this i can withstand. Glee needs work. I just don't think it'll happen. With all the promos about this show, i think the execs think this show is perfect as is. I don't think they are watching the same show i am.

  2. This show is anything but gleeful. It's pitiful. I agree with everything Gavin said. The actors are overblown caricatures, the lip-syncing is DREADFUL (I'm pretty sure I could do better and I am by NO means a performer), and the songs are so over-produced it makes me sick. Isn't the appeal of a glee club the fact that these people are naturally wonderful singers/performers?

    I'll give this show one more chance. And, then, I'm done, in a very vengeful way. How could Fox screw up such a brilliant concept? I don't get it.