With the possible exception of Flashforward, which I haven’t had a chance to see yet but looks promising, Glee is the best new TV show of the season. It’s a dark high school comedy about the struggles and triumphs of the glee club coach and its members.
The best part about it is its unhindered departure from realism. No glee club really sounds that good. All of the characters are outrageous stereotypes. No high school is filled with as much viciousness. I especially love the coach of the “Cheerios” cheerleading team enforcing the Darwinian social hierarchy and Principal Figgins with his hand always on the calculator looking to save money by feeding the students prison food.
But in fully departing from realism the show probably better captures the reality of high school life than any of the sappy, gritty, “realistic” high school dramas, like Boston Public, Dangerous Minds, or Dead Poets Society. Those are adult fantasies of what they would like high school to be — filled with heroic teachers battling the odds to save eager students .
That’s not high school. High school is often banal, outrageous, awkward, and pathetic. Surrealism captures the experience so much better than realism. The only other depiction of high school that I can think of that similarly captures the high school experience is the movie, Election.
Given that much of the attraction of the show is its outrageousness and novelty, I expect that the quality of the show will rapidly fade. By season 2 we will have exhausted the one-dimensional characters and become jaded to the show’s novelty. But enjoy the ride for now.
And yes, a show about a glee club is pretty “gay.” The show tackles this issue head-on by featuring the tension between youthful anxiety about masculinity and youthful desire to express one’s creative self. Just watch how the football team uses a dance to Beyonce’s All the Single Ladies to win the game:
And if you need more dancing to that song (and who doesn’t?), check out this video of All the Single Babies:
(edited to correct typo)