Why 2010 will be a gleeful year

There comes a point in every girl’s life when they have to move past the TV habits of their teenage years. Having watched four episodes of new show Glee, it seems I’m not quite there yet.

I just fancy the teacher rather than the students.

Glee has all the traits of any good, old-fashioned high school show. It’s got laugh-out-loud geekiness equal to Zac, Screech and the gang in Saved by the Bell and the will-they / won’t-they formula of Dawson’s Creek. The cast is every bit as attractive as those fielded by The OC / Gossip Girl maestro Josh Schwartz.

All good, but not alone enough to guarantee Glee will be the mega-hit it has already proved in America, where it has been Golden Globe nominated. So why all the song and dance about it?

Song and dance is exactly why, actually.

Glee is what High School Musical would look like if Disney allowed for irreverent digs at disabled people, gay dads and teen pregnancy scandals.

Centred around the very different members of a high school ‘Glee’ club – essentially a music and dance group – every episode is peppered with several showstopping numbers that wouldn’t look out of place on a West End Stage. It’s a show about performers, and perform they do, from current hits to classic tunes reinvented.

Glee: worth making a song and dance over

The creators have mixed up the musical formula, though, and it works. At times, characters follow the classic arch and just burst into song mid-conversation. Sometimes we see the Glee club perform as a real school society would (only far, far better) and every so often music and dance forms part of a characters subconscious musings.

There’s a character and a storyline for everyone, from the jock with a heart who just wants out of the dead-end town, to the gay teen with the macho father and the well-meaning but naive (and frankly gorgeous) teacher who runs the club but can’t quite sort out his own life.

Matthew Morrison plays Will, the teacher in charge of the Glee club

All this, and it’s funny. Glee does drama and heartstring-tugging like the best TV, but at other times we have to suspend our disbelief at the sheer absurdity of the show.

Think a failing football team doing a full Beyonce ‘all the single ladies’ on the sports field, helmets and all, a malevolent cheerleading coach who could give Cruella deVille a run for her money and a chastity club playing ‘don’t pop the balloon’ to encourage abstinence, and you’ll get the idea.

It’s silliness, but silliness at its best.

And it wouldn’t work were it not for a stellar cast who seem very much in on the joke.

 I’d be surprised if Lea Michele doesn’t become a household name off the back of Glee. The actress, a dead-ringer for the equally talented Idina Menzel, has already starred on Broadway as the original Wendla in Spring Awakening.  

Her very-annoying character Rachel, whose sense of entitlement is matched only by her amazing voice, should not be likeable. Michele manages to make her sympathetic, no mean feat.

Mark my words. 2010 is going to be a gleeful year.

Glee will air from Jan 11th on E4

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