There are some people who simply don't get the appeal of it. "The plot lines are so, like, unoriginal!" they'll whine, before attacking the "weak character development!" Then there are critics like Newsweek's Joshua Alston who actually believe the music is weighing it down: "The show would be so much better without it -- or at least with a lot less of it." Isn't that like saying a waterfall would be prettier with less water?
"Glee" is a celebration of exactly what the title suggests -- glee. It's not realistic, life-altering or heavy (even when it tries to be). But it's so unapologetically fun and joyous that it's hard not to fall, hard, for its charms. The show, in case you've been comatose the past year, is about a high school glee club with big dreams, led by a determined teacher (Matthew Morrison as Will), and a cheerleading coach (Jane Lynch as Sue) who wants to take them all down. It's co-created by Ryan Murphy of "Nip/Tuck" fame, and the cast is rife with singing, acting and dancing sensations -- Lea Michele (Rachel) was the star of "Spring Awakening"; Heather Morris (Brittany) is one of Beyonce's backup dancers. They are the real deal, as evidenced by their sold-out, well-reviewed tour. (Did I catch one of the shows at Radio City? Let's just say the answer isn't no.)
Anyone who has seen "Election" will notice that Rachel is like the second coming of Tracy Flick, down to her obsessive, Type- A drive to succeed, and Finn (Cory Monteith) looks and acts a lot like sweet-but-dopey Paul Metzler. Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Mercedes (Amber Riley) have a bit of a "Dawson's Creek" Jack-and-Jen thing going on. Puck (Mark Salling) makes the ladies swoon with his semi-mohawk, while "cheerio" Quinn (Dianna Agron), every mother's dream, is 16 and pregnant. And Artie (Kevin McHale) rocks a wheelchair with a little help from Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz).
All of the characters are loveable on "Glee," even when they're being irritating, and that's a testament to the writing. Brittany has some of the best brainless one-liners around ("When I pulled my hamstring, I went to a misogynist"), Sue never tires of making fun of Will's Timberlake-esque hair, and there are many tender moments between Kurt and his gay-friendly father (Mike O' Malley). Every episode is bursting with self-deprecating jabs and sarcasm, keeping it edgier than your average musical.
The music, of course, is the best part -- and every week there are several more songs to squeeze into my overflowing iPod. How many things in life are that delightfully consistent? The best singer in the lot is arguably Lea Michele, though she is best-suited to big, booming ballads ("Don't Rain On My Parade" and "Defying Gravity" are outstanding; "Gives You Hell" is less so). Amber Riley is my personal favorite because she can do the softer songs ("Beautiful") while also giving the show a needed R&B edge ("Bust Your Windows" and "Hate On Me" are super-catchy). But what do I know: I also get a kick out of listening to Matthew Morrison rap.
The Madonna-themed episode is the most fantastic thing I've seen in a while, and that includes two painted-blue men walking around the city on stilts, flaunting their "Avatar" love. The "Vogue" video homage is classic and always good for a quick giggle. I can't get enough of the mashups on the show and hope there will be more. Guest stars like Kristin Chenoweth, Jonathan Groff and Neil Patrick Harris manage to make a great thing even greater. And oh my, those fantastic Lady Gaga outfits.
So yes, I'm proud to let my Gleek flag fly. What's stopping you?