Photo Credit: Patrick Ecclesine/FOX
When I first heard about Glee, I thought: No. Way. Sure, High School Musical: The Series sounds good on paper, but would it really hum in primetime targeting a general audience? Or would it more likely go off key like Cop Rock and Viva Laughlin?
Everyone knows what happened next -- the Nielsen equivalent of a standing ovation. But I'm still not sure why. As Glee belts out a brand new season this week, I'm struck by how ridiculously hyper, shameless, audacious, loud, simplistic, sentimental, naïve, unsavvy, cartoonishly sexy, unsubtle and hopelessly idealistic the show really is.
But when I re-examine that particular string of adjectives, I suddenly understand the attraction teens and tweens have to the show. Glee appeals to teenagers because, in essence, the show itself is a teenager: Ridiculously hyper, shameless, audacious, loud, simplistic, sentimental, naïve, unsavvy, cartoonishly sexy, unsubtle and hopelessly idealistic.
If Glee were a teenager, it would...
* Fall into fits of unabashed sentimentality and emotion, like Rachel (Lea Michele) does constantly.
* Project innocence while pushing boundaries of sexual provocation.
* Exhibit impulsive bursts of emotion... or song! (Check out this hysterical Glee intervention).
* Feast on stereotypes, but exude showy, token respect for people with disabilities, like Artie (Kevin McHale) and Becky (Lauren Potter).
* Remain stuck in school, yet see the school experience as a series of social encounters and extracurricular activities interrupted by a class here and there.
* Look for the soap opera in real life and/or reduce real life into a soap opera.
Given this, I've actually come to respect the show. Whereas many Disney and Nickelodeon programs pander to kids with their young superstars and laugh tracks, this one says, "Hey, I'm one of you! Let's hang out together!"
And this Glee-ophyte will gladly take Lea Michelle's hyperdramatic cover treatments over your average American Idol performance any day of the week.
Why do you think kids love Glee? Chime in now!