Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What You Should Have Watched #4

I have an extremely bi-polar, love/hate relationship with the TV show Glee. There are more things I like or love about the show than things that I hate, but the intensity levels make it a pretty equal wash.

I guess I should start off with the stuff I don’t like about the show. Let’s start off with the characters. I think there’s only one character whom I can’t find a flaw with. All the other piss me off in one way or another. And characters should have flaws, it’s how we know they’re human, but most of these flaws are just so over-the-top and they make the characters one-dimensional.

  • Kurt: We get it, he’s gay. Is there anything else to know about him?
  • Artie: Generica handi-capable student. I liked him better on the one episode of The Office he was in (kidnapped pizza delivery boy).
  • Rachel: Best singer, but I hate her unflinchingly stuck up, better-than-you attitude.
  • Finn: Whiniest jock I’ve ever seen, in real life or on TV
  • Will: Too oblivious to what’s going on around him.
  • Mercedes: Strong and proud black diva.
  • Tina: Goth-ish wall flower.
  • Santana and Brittany: Cheerleading whores, but at least Brittany brings some much-needed comic relief to the show.

The three characters I like, Sue, Puck and Quinn, I like because they’re honest. Sue and Puck are grade-A asshats, but they don’t apologize for it. But they’ve also got a bit of heart behind that tough exterior. Before the hiatus, Quinn was the cheerleading bitch who, thanks to her pregnancy, learned to care about other people besides herself. Clich├ęd, sure, but it was natural throughout the first half of the season. These characters are multifaceted. There’s growth. So far, nobody else is growing. They’re moving forward but staying the same. That’s boring to watch.

I hate, hate, hate shows that shove morals and/or life lessons down the viewers’ throats. I’m okay with messages. I’m okay with shows reinforcing positive values that parents should be teaching their kids. I just don’t like being slapped in the face with it. That’s what the Disney Channel is for. And now that I think about it, this show is really a more grown-up version of something you’d see on the Disney Channel. I’ve got kids, so I know what’s on there. It’s this show, just dumbed down even more.

And really, the episodes are not good. There are lots of really good scenes, but when put together they don’t make up good episodes. It’s pretty much the same feeling I have for Superman Returns.

The best thing about this show and half of what makes the show watchable is the singing and performing. Everybody involved is EXTREMELY talented. While I haven’t like all of the songs and can’t stand the frequent auto-tuned sound of Finn’s voice, I like these versions of most of the songs they’ve performed. Lea Michele (Rachel) and Matthew Morrison (Will) actually give me goose bumps. Not every time, but often.

And it’s not that these kids (and some of the adults, too) are JUST talented singers and dancers. For the most part, the acting is incredibly good. But with what was said earlier, good acting and good performing can only take a crappy script so far. These are crappy scripts. If this show spent as much time on developing the characters as it does to the musical arrangements, this would be spectacular. I’ve been told that the cast is too big and you just can’t focus on everybody, but I call bullshit. A good writer or writing team can do it. Look at Friday Night Lights. Huge cast, set around football (as opposed to music) with great characters who are fleshed out and not mere stereotypical, cardboard cut-outs.

I wish I could like this show more than I do. But it’s not me. It’s not that I “don’t get it.” It’s the show. It’s putting all of its eggs into a musical basket. Crack some of those eggs and make a storytelling omelette, then I’ll change my tune. 


Kate said...

I've only seen one show and it left me decidedly underwhelmed. I thought all the characters were extremely flat and cliched, and I didn't even like the singing or choreography in the one I saw. It left me thinking, "I already went to high school. Why should I watch these boring people do it again?"

Jane Lynch is the only reason to watch it so far as I'm concerned.

Rob Rosenblatt said...

Jane Lynch is great in all she does. Her shot-for-shot remake of Vogue and last week's video of Physical with Olivia Newton John were great.

KV said...

Hypocritical point you made: You bash all the characters (except your favorite 3) for being being a stereotypical one-dimensional version of their character. However, you complain that Finn is a "whiney jock." So in your words you would rather him be the tough typical jock than be a jock who also is "whiney" and has issues. Being multi-dimensional. Would you rather just see him on the football field all the time. Should he be walking around school in his football uniform then?

I will agree that Will is oblivious but he got divorced and is in the process of finding himself... what more growth do you want?

As for Kurt, Rachel and Mercedes, watch this weeks, its about them and their "growth".

I will agree that the rest of the characters are more backup dancers than anything else. But then in that regard they shouldn't make you hate it.

Obviously I am a Gleek. I know that!!

Also, apparently Community was taking a jab at Glee in last weeks episode. Gleeks are pissed! (Community trumps Glee, so I am not on that train)

nyrdyv said...

I would love to see the character Gregory House, M.D., have a guest appearance on Glee as a substitute teacher.

I think the mayhem that would ensue would be most hilarious, and deserving, for all involved.


Steven G. Willis

Rob Rosenblatt said...

Okay, I finally got around to watching this past week's episode, and I tried to keep KV's points in mind. And I guess I've got to agree. Maybe I was a bit too harsh. I think I was just looking for a technical reason not to like the characters rather than the standard "because."