TV Review: GleeHigh School Musical, Fox Style

As a (not-so-) former choir nerd myself, I was thrilled about the prospect of Glee, Fox’s satirical new comedy about a struggling show choir in a podunk Midwestern town. But the reality has let me down: Most of the musical numbers are too slick, the characters wooden and cartoonish. There are some significant characters of color, which is great to see. (I chuckled heartily at a brief bit in the fourth episode, when it’s revealed that South Asian principal Figgins once hawked embolism-reduction stockings for Mumbai Air.) But many of the students are overly stereotypical: the big, sassy black girl; the silent Asian girl. I’m still cringing over Kurt, the swishy gay kid whose father recalls asking for “a pair of sensible heels” on his third birthday. (The adults aren’t much better: The former glee club teacher, a closeted man in the Corky St. Clair mold, wears a kimono around the house and maintains an extensive doll collection.) Still, the show could touch off some good conversations with teenagers about navigating the school social hierarchy.

Parents of younger High School Musical fans might want to preview a few episodes before deciding whether to let their kids watch: This being Fox, there are some risqué bits: When a girl tries out bulimia, only to sigh that she doesn’t have a gag reflex, her counselor promises, “One day, when you’re older, that’ll turn out to be a gift.” Interestingly, the popular kids are all part of the Celibacy Club, where the cheerleaders reign. At one point, Rachel—an unpopular, Tracy Flick-like glee member—tells the club flat-out that they’re being unreasonable and encouraging unsafe behavior. Though her big speech has a PSA feel, the confrontation provides another good discussion opportunity for parents and their teens.

Nina Shen Rastogi

• DVD Review: Pete’s Dragon
• Video Game Review: Ghostbusters
• Book Review: The Very Silly Mayor
• TV Show Review: The Fresh Beat Band

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