This week I’ve been bombarded by Glee – my housemates have been blasting the piss-poor cover of Journey’s anthemic Don’t Stop Believing, and they had a massive Glee night a few days ago, which resulted in me leaving the house for several hours to get away from the awfulness of it all. So I’m in a bad mood.
But none of these things are the reason I really hate Glee, deep-down. I’ve had the misfortune to be subjected to a few episodes, which in itself is a testament either to my mental endurance or to my laziness in not leaving the room while it’s on. I watch a lot of crap TV after all – students are supposed to. Whether it’s a daily dose of Neighbours at 1.45 every afternoon or watching Take Me Out every Saturday it was on, I can quite happily sit through plenty of arse-clenchingly bad television. Why, then, does Glee rile me so much?
I think it might be because it’s American, but then I have no trouble watching Desperate Housewives or even 90210 at a push, and both those shows are equally vapid, pointless piles of shit. It took me a while to realise why I hated it, and then I realised that it wasn’t the musical numbers or the terrible jokes.
I realised that the reason I hated it was because it was trying to make me feel good. Deliberately setting out to say, “Hey, look – life’s not so bad!” And I hate it when anyone tries to say that to me. Because Glee takes place in an American high school, that most awful of environments for teenagers, where judgement is superficial and a strict caste system exists, with very clear winners and losers. The glee club is supposed to consist of losers, very few of which might just end up trumping the popular kids at some later date if they make it as an actor or musician or whatever. But the stark truth is that most of its members won’t. They are, as a general rule, not thin enough, not good-looking enough, not straight enough, or not white enough, to make it in that culture.
And then, the storyline of the show goes, the meathead jock joins the club, along with his missus, and all of a sudden everything’s much better. Of course, the storyline has to focus on the good looking, white cast members for the most part, but there is the occasional metaphorical bone thrown to the others. The cheerleader gets pregnant (predictably) and decides to have the baby (predictably), although she plans to give it away.
I think what really annoys me is that the show has the potential, behind the gloriously over-the-top musical numbers, to explore real issues about the problems within American high schools. Instead, the operation of the hierarchy (and the arch-villain, Sue Sylvester) is shown in a light-hearted way. The show neglects the often very real problems of identity and self-worth that most teenagers go through and seems instead to yell, “You can do it!” at the top of its lungs. While I’m sure this gets a good reaction stateside, where life’s all about getting yourself out there and living the American dream, I’m saddened that a British audience manages to swallow this kind of tripe without choking, or at least without it leaving a nasty taste in their collective mouth.
But maybe it’s me being too cynical. Maybe a bit of escapism is nice, once a week. Perhaps that’s all Glee’s supposed to be – an hour to forget reality and curl up with a big duvet of suspended cynicism around you, basking in the warm glow of a universe where things aren’t decided for you, and you really can do it if you
B&Q it believe in yourself.
But I still won’t be watching it. And if people do, they shouldn’t let it affect their lives. Because it’s bollocks through and through.