In the last few weeks, I’ve become addicted to a fantastic new soap.
It’s a soap with engaging characters that leap off of the screen, as well as a great sense of humor. Even though half the characters are in high school, they’re still so well developed that I actually care about what happens to them. And my new favorite soap has already launched into a few sudsy storylines.
I am, of course, talking about Glee.
Glee is getting a lot of buzz, and rightfully so. It’s an unusual hybrid of a comedy (creator Ryan Murphy is well known for his previous comedies Nip/Tuck and Popular) and a variety show, of sorts – most of the actors also sing and/or dance.
The core of the show is Will Schuester, a kind soul who’s a teacher at a high school in Ohio. He’s feeling stifled, but he finds an outlet when he becomes the director of the school’s glee club. Will is played by Matthew Morrison, who appeared on As The World Turns a while back as Adam Hughes. Morrison is a heartthrob in the making. His good looks, easygoing nature and musical chops make Will a perfect “tentpole” character.
What makes this show so fun to watch, for me, are the characters. They’re a quirky bunch that remind me of characters from a Christopher Guest movie. Glee has done a nice job of positioning a wide range of characters and letting them have at each other. And the stories are getting increasingly soapy; last night Glee launched into a big umbrella story (hint: the episode was called “Preggers”) that will probably drive the narrative for the rest of the season.
The can’t-miss performance is Jane Lynch, who’s always fun to watch in everything she does. Here she plays cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, a tyrant at Will’s school who’s determined to take the glee club down. Lynch is a master of biting one-liners, and Sue is clearly in charge of her small fiefdom.
The music is the added bonus element – as well as the dealbreaking one: either you love that the songs are part of the narrative, or you run screaming for the exits.
This is definitely my favorite new show of the fall. There’s a few things I’d tweak, of course (what, you think I’d refrain from an opinion?) I think Glee needed a few more episodes of the glee club together to bond; so far, almost everyone (including Will) has left glee club at least once. It would be nice if the show allowed some alliances to gel and bonds to form so we’re actually invested.
Terri, Will’s wife, is definitely the weak link amongst the characters. Of course, Glee needs conflict, but Terri’s such a vapid schemer it’s hard to enjoy her scenes. She is the Stacy Morasco of Glee.
As a music aficionado, I hope Glee keeps up the quality of music selections. The song at the end of the pilot (Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’) was perfect: it told the story so well, it was well done, and it was a great “eleven o’clock number” in the theatrical tradition. (It’s a happy song that had me in tears.) A few songs have been more of a stretch matching plot to character; last week’s whole Kurt/Mercedes bit seemed to be created just to let Mercedes sing “Bust Your Windows.” As with daytime soaps, it’s more enjoyable when the story (or the song) bleeds out of the character in a very organic way.