(Although, those two statements are, arguably, mutually exclusive)
Whilst it’s not strictly film as yet, since it hit our television screens in May of 2009, Glee has taken the world by storm, and there can be no uncertainty that sometime in the near future, Glee will hit the silver screen and demand an impressive cut of the year’s cinema takings. With its light-hearted image, not entirely humourless script and myriad of musical numbers, it has mass appeal. But it is with great reluctance – and probably much to my chagrin – that I must admit, after months of deliberation and despair, I hate Glee.
It had occurred to me upon this realization that I would be seriously outnumbered, so before I begin a tirade of unadulterated ‘Glee-bashing’ please note that I am by no means condemning those of you who consider yourself to be ‘Gleeks’. It goes without saying, that this is entirely a matter of preference and opinion, but I completely understand if you wish to hold this against me.
The main issue I have with Glee is that it is a formula that completely lacks originality; almost every aspect of it seems derivative of something else. On the surface, it is a sitcom set in an American high school, detailing the day-to-day lives of the various students, teachers and parents within their social circles (each labelled by some form of stereotype). This isn’t an original premise, over the last 30 years, there have been countless examples of films and TV shows doing this very same thing.
In recent memory, though, Glee owes everything to the unstoppable marketing juggernaut that is Disney’s High School Musical. Grossing a total of $253m worldwide, the series is hard to ignore. It took the above premise and combined it with Disney’s familiar musical stylings, thus paving the way for Glee to do something similar. However, instead of using songs composed specifically for the show, the cast of Glee subjects us to weekly renditions* of some of the most famous and celebrated songs to have ever been released. Furthermore, the creators have the audacity to release these cover versions commercially as singles. In particular, Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’, which has managed to maintain enduring popularity 28 years after its release – is a song that evidently did not require a cover version to boost its success.
That’s not to say that the cast does not boast some talented vocalists. Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele, Chris Colfer are all decent singers in their own right, but the show has already been heavily criticised for its “overproduced” soundtrack, and its heavy reliance on ‘Auto-Tune’.
Perhaps, for me at least, Glee’s greatest transgression is that of the character Sue Sylvester. Admirably played by Jane Lynch, Sue is the ruthless coach of the Cheerleading team who will stop at nothing to destroy the Glee club. In every episode, Sue will make some scathing remark or rant at Will Schuester, the show’s protagonist, and will generally make efforts to lower the morale of the members of the Glee club. Sue is a great antagonist, but I cannot help but think she is merely a re-hashing of the more evil parts of Scrubs superb Dr. Cox, just in a different environment.
But that is exactly what Glee is – a re-hash. In its premise, characterisation and execution, Glee is superficial and uninspired. I can only hope it doesn’t make it past season two and god forbid, to the big screen.
*Please feel free to substitute this with ‘butcherings’.