Glee – episode 101: the verdict?

Judging by the online buzz from traditional outlets and social media sources like, this is a show that is here to stay. While savvy marketers in the US announced FOX’s confirmation of a second season coincidentally on the very same day Season 1 was due to air in the UK, the Brits lapped up the first helping of Glee with unabashed, well, glee.

It even struck a chord with the dry wit of Times critic Caitlin Moran, who shared with her Twitter followers earlier today,

It’s VERY silly and VERY funny and VERY bitchy, and ends with an inspiring version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Even Peaches Geldof told the world she was “Loving Glee” during the airing of the double’s bill’s second episode.

Truth be known, I’ve been rooting for this show since the summer due to the widely available and questionably legal internet sources for the show. What makes me feel better about that is my dedication to watching the same episodes again on E4 regardless, as it seems legions of fans who came across the show under the same guise echo this dedicated (obsessive?) sentiment.

Ironically, this show about geeks – or rather, Gleeks – breeds popularity like an exponential snowball.

Already with SAG nomination, three Teen Choice nominations, a People’s Choice Award, and no fewer than four Golden Globe nominations (including Best Actress for Lea Michele and Best Actor for Matthew Morrison) under its belt, Glee is a cult show of the very highest order. And, having been on UK screens for less than 180 minutes total, that is quite some feat.

This is a show that somehow cynically mocks its own genre, whilst showing some real heart. It soaks up our modern susceptibility to self-absorbtion and squeezes the life out of it.At times this makes it a little too heavy on the soul-searching and the discovery of a true identity (among both the kids and the adults) – but what American High School-based show doesn’t? Glee stands apart in its remarkable self-awareness. Glee knows it pushes these boundaries, admits it and does so with humour, warmth and unashamed cheesy musical numbers. It never pretends to be anything else.

(c) FOX Broadcasting

But at the same time, it stops just short of being trite and clichéd at every opportunity where it could become just that. When we first meet doe-eyed Rachel, we think that the tried and tested She’s All That / Rachel Leigh-Cook / Geek-turned-popular-kid formula will play out to the end. But Rachel Berry falls short of being 100% likeable because she’s so darn highly strung. She’s a manicly dedicated perfectionist, who is both the stunning young ingenue that everyone roots for and intensely annoying at the same time. Sometimes you just want to slap her. No one ever really wanted to slap Laney Boggs.

The bunch of Gleeks are predictable mis-fits: Kurt is ridiculously gay; Artie is restricted from the full musical numbers by his wheelchair; Mercedes’ sassy spirit is the only thing bigger than her immense voice and frame. Yet often we see the strongest stereotypes either pushed beyond the reasonable boundary or given a dry comedic twist. The Cheer Coach is not just a slave-driver, she’s a masochist (“You think this is hard? Try living with Hepatitis, that’s hard”). Head Cheerleader, Quinn, is Captain of the Abstinence Club (thereby blowing out of the water all cheerleader stereotypes known to man). Finn, the typical Jock-turned-soul-searching-friend-of-the-geeks turns out to be the displaced son of an Iraq war fatality (well, they had to get the war critique in somewhere) while his friend Puck turns out to be even more of the clichéd jock-gone-soft than he is.

But frankly, what makes Glee is the music. Yes the young cast is immensely talented, the scripts are sharp, the dialogue cutting and the editing varied enough in style to make it a mixture of the American Office and Bring It On. But it is undoubtedly those powerful musical numbers that keep the critics and fans coming back for more. And that ultimately is what Glee club is all about.

*Join Glee’s UK Facebook group

*Follow Glee on Twitter (and cast members @frankenteen & @msleamichele)

*Watch episodes 1 & 2 on E4 catch up

*Buy the soundtrack (highly recommended)

*Audition as part of the producers’ open casting call for the next season!

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