Glee, pure fun and more

by Rob Tiller

For me, watching Glee started out as a sort of a guilty pleasure. It was undeniably fun, but I couldn’t see much socially redeeming value. It seemed sort of like American Idol but with professional-level pop singing. There was a wittiness about it, but the action was highly stylized, and the concerns seemed very far from mine. Regardless, I found myself deeply enjoying the dancing and pop songs, including ones I’d thought of as silly and trite. This was a bit disconcerting. But I gradually set aside my notions of good taste and just got into it.

In the last couple of weeks, the show has surprised me again, by taking on some twisting its stereotypes into new shapes. The gay guy, Kurt, had previously struck me as basically a standard gay sitcom character, present primarily for laughs and avoiding causing any real offense. But when he declared last week, after his father had a heart attack, that he didn’t believe in God, and refused to compromise on that position. There was definitely some edginess. The only group in America less beloved than gays is atheists. And this week, Kurt flamed at the straight world in a hard, in-your-face way. This was gayness with some pride and even arrogance, intended to provoke discomfort. Then we saw, suddenly, his loneliness, and his surprising courage and creativity.

I wasn’t as wowed by the musical numbers as in some previous episodes, but I was really cheered to see something original and a little risky. My cable service offers hundreds of channels, but it seems that at any given moment most are showing advertisements or content even less interesting than advertisements. When I’m too tired to do anything but a bit of channel surfing before bed, I often feel like I can’t find a single channel that isn’t showing something that I’ve seen in some form many many times before. Vast swathes of TV land are a moral, artistic, and intellectual desert. But every now and again, as with Glee, one comes upon an oasis.