Glee: Are These Kids Actually Too Smart and Sensitive for Real Life?

Seems like everybody's a Gleek these days. FOX aired a new director's cut of its Glee pilot on Tuesday, with another repeat scheduled for this Friday (this time, with real-time Twitter messages from the cast). All summer, audiences have grown to love Glee's deliciously dark, bordering-on-parody teen archetypes: Rachel, the uptight over-achiever; Artie, the wheelchair-bound geek; Kurt, the fashion-obsessed dandy who may or may not be gay; Finn, the secretly sensitive football player. "There's nothing ironic about show choir!" huffs Rachel. Ba dump!

Of course, any teen comedy worth its weight, especially one as knowing as Glee, needs a scene in which Finn stands up for the nerd and gives the jocks a speech about how we're all losers in the end. (See: Can't Buy Me Love, the horrible/awesome 1987 flick starring a pre-McDreamy Patrick Dempsey.) It's hard not to wonder, though, whether such teenagers— voluble, insightful, brave in the face of a football player's fist—actually exist in the real world?

Screenwriters seem to love this kind of super-teen so much that it seems like a form of wish fulfillment. We've all met some smart, sensitive teens in our day, but few seem inclined toward the long-form, heartfelt speechifying of, say, the kids on Dawson's Creek or Party of Five. Similar to Ferris Bueller's Day Off and its small-screen spinoff Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Glee features teens who may be outsiders or dorks, but are readier with a quip, a scheme, or a one-liner than most professional standup comedians.

Is this a rewriting of history for all the screenwriters who never sat in the cool section of the cafeteria? Do such sophisticated displays of eloquence make up for those times when they were tongue-tied around a crush or a bully?

Glee
is such a well-written show, and so much fun to watch, that it's nice to think that its (formerly?) nerdy screenwriters are finally the cool kids.

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