Glee, Season One, Volume 1, Road to Sectionals
by Laura Tucker
Film Monthly Home
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
You might think the key to the series Glee is in the music, but that wouldn’t be the case. It’s good music done well, but it’s not the key. You might also think it’s in the casting, but while everyone’s talented musically and can really act, and Jane Lynch can bring that wonderfully subtle dark humor in, that’s not the key either. The key is in the writing. Once I sat down to really watch the show for the first time from the soon-to-be-released first season on DVD, I found something different than I was expecting, and that was for the better.
Amidst Fox’s heavy promotion of the series before it was released, I watched a clip that showed the glee club performing, and I wasn’t impressed. Let’s examine why. This premiere happened towards the end of the last season of American Idol. After watching Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, and Allison Iraheta, this group of kids singing just wasn’t going to be really impressive. To top it off, it looked very High School Musical-ish and seemed wildly unrealistic. At least in my high school (okay, so it was 20 … ahem, something years ago), the costumes put together in clubs like this weren’t matching, and when they were, it was because they only had one that they wore in every performance. How unrealistic is it that this club has several different matching outfits?
Yet having now seen more of the story behind the show, and not just a musical performance, I understand it much better. Perhaps one of the executive producers said it best in the extras included in the on the DVD set. He stated that they were trying to make it sweet and snarky and tow that line in between. It’s indeed a fine line, but they have managed to pull it off.
It’s the story that pulled me in, and through the story, I was then able to enjoy the music so much more. That was what I was missing when I saw the earlier clip of the Glee performance – the story. It’s done somewhat tongue-in-cheek. It’s not supposed to be totally serious and is supposed to be comedic, although through this it does find some dramatic parts that can still leave you feeling something for these people.
There’s unplanned teenage pregnancies, faked adult pregnancies, secret love affairs, etc. All of it is handled comedically, yet finds the drama in there as well. Jane Lynch plays the cheerleading coach who has it in for the Glee Club, in an odd bit of competitiveness. The things she does, such as getting plastic surgery before pictures are taken of the cheerleading team is absolutely ridiculous, yet it provides much of the humor, and the bonding that the glee club experiences through her meddling adds the sweetness to her snarkiness.
The executive producers touched on another interesting point. The glee club is supposed to be a bunch of misfits when they start and be the underdogs, yet all are wildly talented. Many of them have complex personalities, such as the character of Rachel (Lea Michele). She’s the most talented one there and is the only one that seems to accept it as her destiny, always singing her name with a gold star, yet in the same way she has an uncomfortableness around others and gets herself in trouble with the things she says. The school’s quarterback (Cory Monteith) is the tops at sports, yet also enjoys being in the glee club, leading to self esteem problems for him. All of these complexities offer an interesting dichotomy.
I’m glad that I decided to give Glee another shot. It’s a worthwhile show and has so many more levels than just being a musical about high school performers, but has to be seen in whole and not in part. It has terrific writing, a great cast, and does manage to fulfill its goal of being both sweet and snarky.
Glee, Season One, Volume 1, Road to Sectionals is being released on DVD December 29.
Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack, and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, and is a freelance writer providing reviews of movies and television, among other things, at Viewpoints. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com
Got a problem? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org