TV Review: Glee

TV Review: Glee

GleeChannel:  Network TENTime Slot:  Thursdays, 8.00-9:00 pmRating:   PGIt’s the prerogative of any elder to criticise the ‘music of youth today’. I’m sure it was as popular a past time in Plato’s day as it is today. Parents who have been subjected to episodes of the new hit-series Glee probably wonder how such threadbare plots and two-dimensional characters […]

By Mark HadleyTuesday 15 Jun 2010TV and StreamingReading Time: 3 minutes

Glee
Channel:  Network TEN
Time Slot:  Thursdays, 8.00-9:00 pm
Rating:   PG

It’s the prerogative of any elder to criticise the ‘music of youth today’. I’m sure it was as popular a past time in Plato’s day as it is today. Parents who have been subjected to episodes of the new hit-series Glee probably wonder how such threadbare plots and two-dimensional characters manage to hold their children’s attention. But they would be conveniently forgetting the effect shows like Fame had on their own teenage years. Music does more than sooth the savage breast. It can awaken desires we didn’t even know we had.

Glee traces teacher Will Schuester’s efforts to restore the singing fame of a no-where school called William McKinley High. Once home to a nationally successful glee club, William McKinley is now almost single-mindedly devoted to its popular cheer leading squad. Consequently Schuester has to begin rebuilding the glee club with students rejected by the rest of the school body. The result is a prolonged triumph of the underdogs, as the socially unacceptable learn to value themselves and others through song.

Sound cheesy? Well it probably should be. However Glee’s producers manage to avoid a modern-day Sound of Music by following a few simple rules. Firstly, the characters don’t just burst into song whenever they please. Their mixture of highly produced chart toppers and show tunes ($3.6 million an episode!) is presented as part of the glee club’s preparations for regional finals. Secondly, the scripts place equal emphasis on adult and teenage characters, ensuring the series’ broad appeal. Thirdly, the storylines centre on two spiritual themes that are guaranteed to gain traction in an image conscious world.

Glee puts a great deal of emphasis on discovering the beauty beneath crumbled exteriors. Sadistic football stars, proud divas, prickly gays – everyone requires renovation, and their reworking begins with learning to accept rather than distance themselves from each other. I know there are some characters the Christian faith would deal with differently but I can’t help being reminded of the mixed bag that makes up the church. We have much in common with McKinley’s weak and foolish, and its also trust in our Teacher’s vision is what will lead us on to greater heights.

What prevents Glee’s storylines from sliding into a slough of sentimentality, though, is the way the personalities progress. Each week, without fail, the script includes a second chance for someone who deserves much less. However their salvation doesn’t depend on their quick thinking or a twist of luck but their readiness to repent. Key characters are constantly dropping their defences and asking for forgiveness. I think it’s a positive relief for viewers. Admitting the weaknesses we all hide is seldom rewarded with relationship and hope. However this counter-cultural philosophy certainly hasn’t offended the series’ 1.4 million Australian viewers.

But ultimately Glee succeeds because music speaks to the soul. A few bars can contain profound truths that will circle our ears for years to come, and connect us with longings we barely understand. Music is admittedly a language that can be used to say many incorrect and correct things. However ignoring its potential closes off an avenue for the Gospel. Because it is a universal tongue, it stands a good chance of expressing just how we feel about our saviour to people we would struggle to communicate with in any other way.  Likewise, exposure to a service that is more dirge than celebration can create an impression that is hard to erase. Celebrating the good news with glee would be one way of showing a world what a thankful heart looks like.

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