Glee. I don’t like the word. It contorts the mouth into a smile. Not a nice smile like you may experience when watching John Cleese playing Basil Fawlty, but a disingenuous smile, like you might get from watching someone do an impression of John Cleese playing Basil Fawlty.
So, to use it as the sole title word for a new series about a bunch of pulchritudinous American high school students overcoming their personal adversities through the insufferable medium of song and dance seemed wholly appropriate in relation to my personal association with the word.
The show had set itself up for a fall. I tuned in to watch with the sole intention of extracting a few trite clichés from the script with which to flavour the blog flog I was set to give it.
Imagine then my consternation when it turned out not to be a shit, strung out, multiple episode break down of High School Musical (I actually watched it twice to check I hadn’t gone mad). In fact, I can’t directly compare it to anything else in the genre. It isn’t like Skins, because it isn’t a poorly acted depiction of what teenagers wish their lives were like; neither is it of the same ilk as 90210 or The Hills, because I don’t get the urge to kill myself and all of the cast after watching it; and most surprisingly of all, it isn’t like the diabetes inducing, High School Musical. The storyline is multifaceted and the actors aren’t all smiling morons waiting to deliver the next nauseating platitude. The characters they play are well rounded individuals with personalities that are quickly identifiable without being stereotypical, and what’s more, it’s funny; yes that’s right, it’s genuinely funny sometimes.
Ok, it’s not perfect. The script is padded out with Sierpinski love triangles and riddled with the obligatory life affirming messages that are a staple in any programme whose primary objective is to woo the maudlin masses, but aside from that, I can’t slate it too heavily.
So I’ll be watching it every single week then? No, of course not.
It may be well put together, but I still hate it and everything it stands for; the conglomeration of insipid, mindless, mass produced music, the relentless allusion to a non-existent aesthetic perfection, the vain and vulgar worldview it extols. It is as base as any of its rivals – a brazen whore pandering to the capricious desires of the lucrative youth audience – but at least it is something new, engaging and original, rather than the usual re-packaged, re-branded crap – the same ass, but in a new skirt. As a result it beats most television hands down, and for that it deserves credit, even if its ultimate objective is to take the money and fuck us.