Glee is the show rock bands love to hate – and the feeling is clearly mutual. The show’s creator Ryan Murphy called Kings Of Leon “self-centred assholes” for not wanting to be involved in the show. They’re not the first band to put a ban on their music being used – Guns N’ Roses and Red Hot Chili Peppers also refused.
Somewhere along the line, Glee became the whipping boy of pop culture, sneered at by joyless snobs everywhere. On You Have Been Watching, Charlie Brooker said he “genuinely couldn’t make it through 15 minutes without wanting to physically harm everyone watching it, involved in its production or simply reflected in the screen.”
Others have reserved their scorn for the songs in the show. Damon Albarn called Glee’s cover versions “a very poor substitute for the real thing” and claimed “they’ll be forgotten in a few years’ time.”
Is all this vitriol really justified? I’m not ashamed to say that I love Glee. It might not be to everyone’s tastes, but that doesn’t mean it’s of poor quality. In fact, there’s a strong case for saying it’s the most misunderstood show on TV. Far from being sugar-coated and cheesy – as the haters claim – Glee is shot through with barbed, and often bizarre, humour.
Jane Lynch has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of razor-tongued cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. Her put-downs are the highlight of the show. Meanwhile, dumb blond Brittany Pierce has been promoted to a regular character for season two thanks to her brilliant one liners.
The music’s less formulaic than you think, too. Rather than a sickly-sweet pop soundtrack, the show has featured songs by the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Paramore, R.E.M., Aretha Franklin, and Florence – earning the cast a Brit nomination for Best International Breakthrough Act.
The Glee cast are more than a happy-go-lucky bunch of teens who could burn your retinas with their dazzling smiles. Dig beneath the surface gloss and you’ll find nuanced storylines and powerful perfomances.
As Kurt struggles to come to terms with his sexuality and coming out to his Dad, Sue Sylvester lets her tough front slip as she visits her disabled sister. OK, it’s hardly gritty – but why does all “quality” TV (Mad Men, The Walking Dead) have to be downbeat and depressing? What’s wrong with a bit of levity?
The first season saw Glee nominated for nineteen Emmys, four Golden Globes and sixty three other awards. Over 13 million singles from the cast have been sold across the world and their version of ‘Don’t Stop Believin” went gold in 2009. So why doesn’t it receive the respect that other award-winning shows get?
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Let’s get this straight, I’d rather saw my own arm off, 127 Hours-style, than watch a cheesy High School Musical film – but Glee is nothing like that. It’s full of talented actors and sharp wit. With X Factor out of the picture, Glee has become public enemy number one for indie snobs. They should get over themselves.