I downloaded the PDF, read it, fell in love, and although Bob didn't get the role, we both anticipated the release date of a primetime show that, for the first time we could remember, reflected our high school existences as the non-jock performer enthusiasts who survived our tiny high schools through our dreams of being stars.
I give you: my take on Glee. (Thanks, reader Nikki, for the suggestion!)
Don't get me wrong. I'm the first to admit this musical dramedy isn't perfect. First, I HATE Will's wife Terri. Not the actress, Jessalyn Gilsig--I feel like she's doing what she can--but the whole faked pregnancy subplot was so ridic that I found myself tuning out when she was on screen. Second, though I love Michael Hitchcock (especially since he's direct messaged me twice on Twitter!), I was largely offended by his character, partially deaf choirmaster Dalton Ross. (Like Gilsig, it wasn't his portrayal, but the way the script was written and directed.) Also, I almost think the show would have worked better in a half-hour format. Remember when The Office went hourlong for a few episodes? (I'm talking normal episodes, not Jim and Pam's wedding.) Yeah. Not so great.
That said, there's a lot to love about this decidedly imperfect show. Hell, maybe the fact that it's decidedly imperfect makes it all the more endearing and relatable. God knows I wasn't flawless as a high school choir geek.
Also, did I mention that MY COLLEGE CLASSMATE IAN BRENNAN, is one of the co-creators? LOYOLA THEATRE MAJORS HOLLA!
Sorry. Just had to get that out there. Belive me, I'm sparing you the full geekout I experienced upon discovering this blessed fact.
Anyway, Glee? These are a few of my favorite things--about you!
1. "Dancing With Myself."
Case in point: "Wheels," to date one of the most beautiful and touching episodes of Glee, and quite frankly one of the best hours of TV I've ever seen. For the first time all season, Artie's disability is put to the forefront, as Mr. Schu and the gang debate on whether to pay for a handicapped accessible bus, or just let Artie ride with his dad like usual. But Artie has another pressing matter on his mind as well: his crush on shy stutterrer Tina. Early in the episode, both of Artie's plotlines are effectively expressed in his first solo song of the series: "Dancing With Myself." At once wistful and Frank Sinatra-snappy, the music, lyrics, and especially McHale's offhand yet pensive delivery are so contagious I immediately downloaded it from iTunes. And boy can WORK that wheelchair.
2. Mike O'Malley.
If you're younger than I am, you probably remember O'Malley as the host of Nickelodeon's Guts back in the nineties. I myself remember him fondly as misguided metalhead Lenny in the Hilary Duff vehicle The Perfect Man, aka a Bad Movie I Inexplicably Love. Also, in yet another weird Glee/Unpro connection, my aunt knows his mom. He's one of those "Hey, It's That Guy!" character actors, always working yet only vaguely recognizable.
Though he's appeared on only two episodes thus far, O'Malley may have increased his profile a thousand-fold thanks to a humorous and heartwarming performance. Not all comedic actors can carry dramatic weight. He can. In only two episodes, Chris Colfer (as Kurt) and O'Malley have created a believable relationship between a showtunes-loving fashion aficionado boy who likes other boys, and a single dad who's not as clueless as he appears, and genuinely wants the best for his kid, no matter what and whom he loves. Yet as accepting as he wants to be, Burt is still concerned for his small family, and knows that life will not be easy for himself and his gay son--and the more out Kurt is, the more difficult it will be. Kudos to Glee for not writing off the "I love my gay son" plot in one Very Special Episode, as so many other shows have done--and for leaving the door open for more scenes between two generations of very skilled actors.
3. Jane Lynch
Anyone who's read this post is aware of my firm belief that Jane Lynch makes everything better. And as the scheming but not-completely-evil cheerleading coach and Glee Club nemesis, she does not disappoint. Whether she's making fun of Mr. Schu's hair or reading Little Red Riding Hood to her handicapped sister, Sue Sylvester's more than just a mustache-turning villain. She's a beyotch with depth--the most interesting kind. A lesser actress could have turned the character one-dimensional but as it is, I can't wait for next season to see what motivates the fiendish plans Sue has up her track-suited sleeve.
Lynch has rocked the house for me ever since her turn as lesbian dog handler Christy Cummings on Best in Show, and she's the only reason I watch those godawful commercials for PlayStation or whatever. I'm thrilled she's finally getting the spotlight she deserves. Go Cheerios!
4. The Utter Relatability of Rachel Berry.
Yup, that was sixteen-year-old Unpro to a freaking T. I wanted, wanted, wanted--and my redneck jock peers just didn't get it. I may not have ever gotten a Slurpee thrown in my face, and the teasing died down by high school, but I was not Miss Popularity by a long shot. And it wasn't entirely undeserved. Like Rachel, I wasn't always the nicest individual. I could be a real bulldozer, not letting anyone stand in the way of my ambition. Luckily, I did have friends who accepted me for who I was and let me know when I was being too much of a pain in the ass. The hyperambitious, talented but awkward teenage girl is a fascinating character. She's not always easy to watch and at times can be downright cringeworthy. But she's real. And between Rachel on Glee and Annie on Community, I couldn't be happier that she's appearing on network TV.
And fine, I still kind of dress like Rachel. Minus the knee socks and the pantsuit. What can I say? It works for me.
5. Hold On to That Feeling.
But my love for Glee's music far surpasses my sense of reality.
It all started in the pilot: when a downtrodden Mr. Schu, on the verge of resigning from McKinley High, happened by the school auditorium to see the original five members of New Directions groovin' to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin.'" What brought tears to my eyes and suspended my disbelief? How damn happy the kids looked. Because I recognized that expression: the muscle memory in my face went "Oh yeah! Remember that?" The expressions of the actors are what sold me on Glee in all its flawed glory.
Because when you think about it, most of the characters have pretty depressing lives. Finn's preparing to play father to a baby he recently discovered isn't actually his. Rachel won't ever fit in at McKinley--even those who should totally accept her, view her as an outcast. Artie will face challenges his entire life, and found out the girl of his dreams lied about something important. Mr. Schu loves Ms. Pillsbury, but they face an uncertain future. But they have a common bright spot in their lives: music. How happy you feel when you master a difficult note or finally get that grapevine sequence. How good it feels when you find others who have that same haven. It's the music that gets you through the utter crap life can be, a teeny tiny part of your life when everything, and you, are okay.
Oh, and an honorable mention goes to the piano player guy. I love him almost as much as I love the animated Mark, accompanist to Jesus and Big Gay Al on South Park. I kind of wonder if they're the same guy. Wouldn't that be awesome?