As of 3 weeks ago I had never seen a single episode of the Fox Network television show Glee. As of this writing, I have now seen every episode and I am what one may call, addicted. I am not too embarrassed to say that as of now, this 51 year old man could be called a gleek, (a fan of the show.)
Glee is a Fox television program that has as of now, won 4 Golden Globes, 4 Emmy’s, and many more various awards and multiple nominations. All of these awards and nominations have come to a television series that didn’t start off with the best of reviews. Glee has picked up a terrific fan base, touching people of all ages with the various themes, and terrific entertainment which involve music and song to bring about and tell stories with real life importance, while at the same time, blending in comedy and satire. While a musical oriented series, it does not take on a typical musical format which would likely turn off many viewers. Instead the music takes place during the shows show choir rehearsals and performances, thus giving a sense of believability to the musical features. It is not unusual to see upwards of 4 or more musical numbers during each episode. The wonderful set design, choreography, acting, performance and story gives a tremendous amount of credibility to the show.
Glee is the story of a group of outcast students at William McKinley High School in Ohio that joins the schools show choir. The choir, taught by the schools Spanish teacher, Will Schuester, played by multi talented Matthew Morrison works together to make some incredible music and the cast comes together to experience life. In Morrison’s portrayal, we see a teacher that cares, and one who loves his students. Each character has issues in their life, including Schuester, from being overweight, being a bully, in a wheelchair, being gay, and others characters with numerous other issues. With a sense of realism, and understanding of current teen issues, Glee is not afraid to address these issues full force.
One of the things that make the review of Season 2, Volume 1 of the DVD a difficult task is the terrifically talented ensemble cast of this program and the willingness of the season to address issues with each character. There are normally 12 – 13 students in the McKinley Glee Club Choir, a principle of Middle Eastern Decent who happens to be a Christian, Schuester’s wife who has her own issues including the recent divorce from her husband for faking a pregnancy, a guidance counselor Schuster loves but is now involved with another man, and the nemesis cheerleader coach, Sue Sylvester, played to a tilt, and multi Emmy and Golden Globe winner Jane Lynch. In her portrayal of Sue Sylvester, Lynch may present the tastiest vileness in television history. The chemistry between Sylvester and the other characters is nothing short of genius.
In Season 2 Volume 1, we see a few changes at the school, the most noted the new High School Football Coach, Shannon Beiste (pronounced Beast). Beiste is a big, buff, female from Missouri. While being a Head High School Football Coach would be challenge enough, she has other issues. She takes no prisoners, and the fact that Principle Figgins has taken from the funds from the Cheerios, (the schools cheerleading program led by 6X National Coach of the Year Sue Sylvester) and the already fledgling Glee Club, coached by Will Schuester we see the two nemesis starting out the school year, working together to bring about the downfall of Coach Beiste. It doesn’t take long into the second season to realize one of the many wonderful things about this program. Even with the outward appearance of toughness, and a rugged appearance, we see there can be an inward beauty that needs love and attention; in fact a beautiful person exists. We see this wonderfully presented in the episode Never Been Kissed.
One of the things I most admired about Glee, both Season 1 and Season 2 is their willingness to address sometimes controversial themes. In the episode mentioned above, Never Been Kissed we see a focus on two characters with a singular theme. In Coach Beiste we see a character that despite her rough, almost man like appearance, has the inward feelings of a woman’s desire to have a boy friend, one to love her and see her as a lady. Despite her age, she communicates how she has never been kissed. This tear jerking episode has such a wide range of emotions that come about that it is hard to understand how the brilliant direction and writing of the series could contain so much in a single episode, (normal broadcast time is 1 hour, and actual show time is around 45 minutes,) yet, they do. In this particular episode; one of my favorite students is Kurt Hummel. Kurt is a gay student who is McKinley High’s only outspoken homosexual. Kurt and the other Glee Club students are bullied and mocked by the rest of the student body, none more than Kurt. While gay, Kurt has a terrific relationship with his father, Burt Hummel, played by Mike O’Malley. Burt is a buff man, loves football, and a widower who operates a tire store. He is straight but does he ever love his son. I have seen few fathers portrayed who is more loving and supportive of their son than Burt. In this episode and others, we see a side of bullying that at times had me angry because it appeared the writers and directors of the program did not want to seriously address the issue. It is in a final climatic moments that we see Kurt’s dad address the issue in a serious way. Two episodes later in the episode Furt we see this relationship, and the consequences of standing by when bullying takes place portrayed in a beautiful moving way as decisions are made to no longer stand by. We see it is better to stand up and be there for each other, despite our differences, it is in the exhibition of love that we see real power and potential for change. These themes and more are addressed in a powerful way over the course of the season. We ultimately see answers that oftentimes result in consequences. In this process, we see characters respond in a real and moving way throughout the season.
Various themes, from teen pregnancy, to depression, to the impact of the loss of a loved one, bullying and more are addressed through out the season. While we may not always like the answers and conclusions that come about, one can’t help but appreciate the willingness of the show to address those issues. We see characters develop, and we find ourselves as viewers, getting to know and care for those characters.
Another episode I especially liked during the season had strong messages related to faith. In one of those episodes there is a focus on prayer and the relationship. This episode features Kurt and his father Burt. Burt has a heart attack, and neither Kurt nor the rest of the Glee Club know how he is going to respond as he is in a coma. The Choir members; some who indicate their faith is important, others who do not, decide to have a prayer vigil for Burt. Kurt blames God for everything going on in his life and comes to the conclusion that God does not exist. We see a terrific struggle here in the search for truth. One character sees Kurt in pain and in a loving way invites him to her church. While at church she lets the congregation know that Kurt doesn’t believe, but she loves him, and wants those in the congregation to pray for him and his father. Kurt in this process sees real love from a person of faith and it begins to transform him.
Another episode I especially liked was the final episode of the Season 2 Volume 1 set. In this episode, which could have been called The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, we see a demonstration of the importance of service, and love. Using the themes from The Grinch, we see the importance of loving others, sacrificially. In a beautiful moment we even see Sue Sylvester change from a Grinch to a loving, caring, sharing individual, just like the Grinch. We also see the potential of miracles, and in believing in miracles in this episode. I went through 3 tissues during this episode as it reminded me of the importance of my own faith, and my need to serve others, and believe in the miracles of life. It also reminded me of the ability to change, even for an old Grinch.
If you can’t tell by now, I love this series; it is now permanently programmed to my Digital Video Recorder. One of the things I have heard about the series is that some people doesn’t think Season 2 is as good as Season 1. I disagree, one of the things happening in Season 2, still in production, is there is more of a focus on the individual characters. We see things going on within the lives of the characters, whether it is Brittany dealing with her own innocence, or in Puck having to deal with his issues of delinquency. There is all of the great music, terrific themes, drama and mystery as to what is going to happen with each of the characters.
There are things I don’t like about the series. At times there seems to have been a subtle bashing of conservative thought, and even at times, Christians. It really isn’t in the best interest of Glee to do this especially when they have worked so hard at promoting themes and concepts that address serious issues, of various people coming together. There is a variety of characters on the show that bring credit to their particular group, even with the idiosyncrasies of those characters. I for one would like to see the inclusion of characters in this area. While Season 2 is not complete I would like to see resolve in some areas such as the reoccurring bullying theme. I understand the importance of conflict but let’s see some conflict resolution. It doesn’t mean one can’t on occasion revisit those issues, but at times, there is almost the appearance that the show is using the bullying theme to its benefit. The character, and the story, is deserving of heroes that are recognized in their own environment. I would also note, not all athletes are dumb jocks, presenting them as such, only attributes to the prejudice the show seems to speak out against. The strength of this show is its cast, the writers and producers willingness to address tough issues, and of course, the music. I hope that the producers of the show continue to fine tune the program as it is still in need of fine tuning, but if they do so, this will cease to be a fly by night fad, and turn into a long term cultural phenomena that has a lasting impact.
Another thing I must comment on is the DVD package. I initially purchased Season 1 for less than $15, I am not certain as to what the price of Season 2 Volume 1 will be as it will be released this week, that said; what a great bargain for what you get. Glee gets it; there are ample special features that include a making of, jukebox, karaoke and more that allow the fans to enjoy many aspects of the show, from singing along to learning more about the characters. As a fan, I found myself looking for Easter eggs on the DVD’s, unfortunately I couldn’t find any so if anyone knows of any, please let me know. I only wish that every maker of DVD’s would check out the willingness of Fox in this situation, to give the fans more. This turns the Glee Season 2 Part 1 DVD set more than a rental option, it is a must own set. If not a fan, it is likely because you haven’t seen the show, and the low pricing and packaging of special features will likely quickly turn you into one. If not, then I assume you are on the pay role of one Sue Sylvester.
I love Glee, I look forward to where the series goes as the students get older, graduate from high school and face other issues. I have personal reasons which are sort of ironic as well. I found out last week that one of my nieces is in the final 10, and in training for potential cast members, of which 3 new cast members will be selected for next season. I have to admit, it is kinda cool. I never saw the show prior to 3 weeks ago, now have seen every episode, and have a niece in the running to be on the show. Am I gleefully happy about Glee? You betcha, I’m Gleekin to the hilt!
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