by guest blogger 99 Seats
Over at my place, I don't get into pop culture too much. But here at Parabasis, I'm free! Free! As most who know me know, I'm a bit of a TV junkie. Like many folks, I fell in love with my first babysitter. Unfortunately for me, that babysitter was electric. That doesn't make my love any less real. It doesn't! Anyway. The fall season of new shows is always a frantic time of DVRing pilots and premieres, reading reviews of the things I miss, reading recaps at my favoritest site in the whole wide world (okay, maybe second favorite...or third) and generally shunning human contact in favor of my TV friends until May. Being a theatre person, I started to catch the buzz on the new Fox show, Glee, last spring when, in a rare show of faith, Fox showed the premiere three months before the season started. I had actually left my house that evening and missed it. The Facebook was all a-twitter about it and the Twitter was all a-Facebook about it, so I decided to finally check it out this fall.
And I hate it.
I thought about posting this under my own name, but I decided to go with it here, anonymously because I think there's going to be some backlash. Already this show is beloved, particularly, it seems by theatre-loving people. I've already started one fight here at Parabasis (Isaac may not get his security deposit back unless I can separate Jack and Josh), and I'm loathe to start another, but, as God as my witness, I must speak truth to power!
Glee sucks. It just plain does. And it sucks for a simple writing reason (which is how I'm getting away with bringing this here, since it's literary and shit): it refuses to stay true to the given circumstances or the rules of the world.
(Minor spoilers follow...so if you're DVRing the whole season, or, heaven forfend, don't have a DVR, feel free to check out something else on the site.)
The episode that did it for me was this one. Okay, I did miss the pilot, but it's not that complicated a show. The basic premise is this: in this world, the cheerleaders are the top of the school athletic/extracurricular pyramid. Their couch is basically the athletic director of the school, played hysterically by Jane Lynch. The glee club is a bunch of misfits and outcasts (but with pluck! And heart! Like all misfits and outcasts have!) and losers. Being in glee club is unmanly so it's funny and touching that the star quarterback does it. It's generally a bad thing. Except that going to Nationals is a big deal. Or something.
In Acafellas, though, the male teachers form a glee club. Which performs at some open mike night and then suddenly have CDs. And an invite to perform for the PTA? Which bring Josh Groban to the school? (Albeit to serve a restraining order. In person. Because that's how you want to keep someone 500 yards away from you. By confronting them in person.) Um. So...being in glee club sucks. Unless it doesn't?
One of the first rules I learned as a playwright was be consistent to the rules of the world you create. All of us writers are little versions of God and we're building these precise universes where our plays happen. Universes have rules. We have to let the audiences know what to expects, what the rules of this particular world are. And then we have to obey them. It's tempting, though, to bend the rules for a good scene, or a good line, or a necessary plot point. But you can't. It's bad, sloppy storytelling. And Glee has that, in spades. Take this next example. (To set it up, the obviously gay but somehow closeted glee club member has "hilariously" joined the football team as the kicker to fool his father into thinking he's straight and taught the whole football team this dance to make them play better. Of course, they didn't want to do it during a game, but, when losing 6-0 in the 4th quarter...)
Fun, sure. Funny, a bit. But wrong. First, obvious, but not in that good satisfying, "That's dramatically inevitable, but totally natural" way, but in the "I saw it coming half an hour ago" way. Also, and this is a bit nitpicky, but...what are the rules of football in this world? Do they not have illegal motion? Or a play clock? And a team losing 6-0 has played a pretty good football game! At least their defense has. And they're still in a position to win the game! Why the long faces? I know it's not Friday Night Lights, but come on! A little research goes a long way.
But for me, the bigger thing is Single Ladies. Really? Single Ladies? I know that the show is set in the far off lands of Ohio, but I bet, even there, Single Ladies is a bit, well, passe. Even for the gay community. It feels a bit...on the nose. And easy. Which a lot of this show feels to me. It feels like a network executive read an article about how gay men and straight women are the best audiences to have now and commissioned a show to make them watch. It just doesn't feel genuine to me. And, yes, I know Ryan Murphy, the creator of the show, is gay. And I'm not, so I probably shouldn't even be shooting my mouth off. But the whole thing feels more like a pander to me than anything genuine.
So. I'm clearing some space on my DVR for something else on Wednesday nights. Any suggestions?