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'Glee': Josh Wolk's Pop Culture Club is gonna debate you in three-part harmony

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Gleepilot_lBefore I criticize Glee, I need to admit something right off the bat: I don’t like musicals. Or at least I don’t like happy-time musicals. If someone is singing and dancing with a huge smile on his or her face, it wipes the smile right off mine. My parents used to take me to a lot of musicals when I was a kid, and instead of raptly wishing I was up there, a-hoofin’ and a-tappin’ with the ensemble, I often found myself intently staring at the Playbill, mentally ticking off the listed songs to gauge just how many more I had left before we could all go home.

This might explain why, when I saw the big musical number set to Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” I wished for the quiet relief of a heroin coma. The ironic juxtaposition of dark song to happy dancing somehow just made it worse.

Maybe it’s not fair of me to judge this show, since it’s predicated on the love for a genre of which I had been blissfully unaware: show chorus, which is glee club, but with jazz feet in addition to jazz hands. They found a way to make something that annoyed me even more annoying. It’s as if a scientist found a way to make a mosquito laugh like Fran Drescher.

I tried to judge the show on its own merits, I really did. I enjoyed the take on high school politics, but it got demerits for being done against a chorus of horribly derivative characters. The glee club included a Tracy Flick type; a brassy Jennifer-Hudson-in-Dreamgirls type who is telling you she’s not singing backup; a gay prima donna who loves fashion; a reluctant singing superjock who looks, acts, and, I assume, smells like American Pie‘s Chris Klein; and a hybrid nerd: He’s not just a dweeb, he’s also in a wheelchair! (Why didn’t they put tape on his glasses to complete the hat trick?) The last member of the troupe, however, was an Asian punk, which is new—It must have taken all the restraint in the world not to make her a member of the Math Team.

And stomping around on the outskirts was the ever-employed Jane Lynch, doing her usual tough-talking, overconfident-boob shtick. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lynch and her shtick. I don’t need to see her stretch, in the same way I never want to see Fred Willard doing anything but Fred Willard. But she is omnipresent these days, so seeing her do her thing here only underscored the fact that I’d seen everything before. And heard everything: “Don’t Stop Believing?” Really? This song is to movies and TV now what “Walking on Sunshine” was about ten years ago.

The reviews for this show have been glowing, and my indifference to it puts me in a very small minority at EW. But while I admired the show’s energy, and smiled at a few lines (“Isn’t that kind of dangerous?” jock Finn asks when his fellow footballers are going to flip over a porta potty with the nerd inside. “He’s already in a wheelchair,” says another), I didn’t find anything revelatory about the show. It was just the Breakfast Glee Club.

The most pressing problem I have with this show is, What’s going to happen in episode 7? Hell, what’s going to happen in episode 2? Will the series follow their quest to win Nationals, giving them a big number a week and learning a little bit about themselves along the way? And please tell me there won’t be a “I’m gonna make it out of this town!” subplot for everyone. Will’s speech about how only half of the school will go to college, and “maybe two will leave the state to do it” was incredibly bizarre—this town looked like Sherman Oaks, but suddenly he’s acting like it’s Dillon, Texas. Or is this one of those Dust Bowl glee clubs?

But what do you think? Is my strong aversion to singin’ and dancin’ clouding my judgment? If I had only learned to love Oklahoma, would I be counting the days until Glee resumes in the fall?

Before I open the argument gates (which I do by unlocking the contretemps lock and then flipping the kerfuffle latch), let me give next week’s assignment: I hate to go back-to-back Fox on you, but let’s watch Mental, the new series about a “radically unorthodox” psychiatrist; it airs on Tuesday at 9, but will be available on Fox.com after that. I’ve seen it, and have some strong opinions, but won’t bias you ahead of time. But just remember: he’s radically unorthodox! Only watch if you can handle radical unorthodoxy! By which I mean, if you watch House, Eleventh Hour, Lie to Me, The Mentalist

addCredit(“Carin Baer/Fox”)

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