If you haven’t seen Glee, the quirkiest TV show with the biggest heart, you’re missing out on the finest hour of comedy on television today. Bar none.
Take a simple premise—an earnest teacher trying to save a high school glee club—mix in an outstanding cast with an eclectic group of crazy-talented kids, multiple story lines of unrequited love, power struggles of every ilk, a terrific soundtrack and a generous helping of smart, laugh-out-loud humor, and that, my friends, is Glee.
Why does the show sing (pun intended) on every level? Because it’s based in Ohio, the place where all good things come from? (Ok, save football and baseball teams.) No, it’s because of brilliant writing.
The stories are crafted with soul and humor, which is a true rarity in this age of reality-show idiocy (see Jon & Kate Plus Eight, Wife Swap, Rock of Love Bus, et al). It’s a novel idea: Forego the mail-it-in ease of reality programming and make a show that actually pulls on the heartstrings and tickles the funny bone with tight writing and compelling storytelling. I know, it’s a crazy concept.
Watch Glee once and you can’t help but get drawn into its campy wittiness, its schmaltzy fabulousness, its utter brilliance. Why? Because we all went to high school and the pathos of those stories is universal. Maybe you were the jock, the cheerleader, the handicapped kid, the mean girl, the drama club queen, the brainiac, the moody artist or the homecoming king. Maybe you wanted to be popular, not be pressured by your popularity, or were envious of someone else’s popularity. Whatever your story was, you’re a part of Glee.
If you’re like me, you were weaned on The Breakfast Club and all other adolescent cinematic therapy of its time, courtesy of John Hughes. We related his movies, gobbling them up with an insatiable appetite. If we made a meal of Hughes’s films—and we did—Glee is the surprisingly fun dessert that we’re better equipped to enjoy because we’ve shed our teenage angst (well, most of it, anyway) and grown up. Now, we can look back at our high school years and empathize with, laugh at and even get choked up about those situations that at the time were writ so large. And that really gets to the heart of it: When it comes to drama and comedy—and that catch-in-your throat place where they meet—there’s no setting richer in story fodder than high school.
So tonight, do yourself a favor and watch Glee. It’s a toe tapper. A finger snapper. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry…it’s better than Cats.