secret sauces

The 5 Things Keeping Glee So Awesome

When compared to other shows in primetime, Fox’s Glee is a ratings winner. When compared to other shows where the cast would burst into song-and-dance, Glee is a homerun. NBC’s Fame? CBS’ Viva Laughlin? Bombs from the start (though Fame was a bigger deal on the international market). The Los Angeles Times‘s Donald Liebenson chronicles the hits and misses in the musical-on-television category, and Glee really is the standout. But what’s the secret formula keeping it afloat?

Here’s how Glee has succeeded in keeping us riveted:

• Current Top 40 pop ballads are de rigeur. Unlike American Idol forcing young viewers to endure unknown Broadway numbers and Beatles hits, Glee‘s cast is only performing numbers the kids can sing along to. Put a ring on it, bitch.

• It’s more than a show. Their performances are available on iTunes, and fans uploading karaoke versions of themselves singing the songs aren’t being yanked from YouTube. This is the way viewers watch television now, and for a show like this to succeed, it must be interactive. Glee continues to nail it.

• The actors are accessible. While conjuring the glee club’s cast, producers really did rope in every high school stereotype: the jock, the fat girl, the cheerleader, the nerdy overachiever, the gay, the disabled. But these characters aren’t stock roles just for the sake of it; they’re caricatures of the types of people we expect them to be. Which means they can be outrageous, and we appreciate it as camp, not over-reaching theatrics, like …

• Those melodramatic high school shows, which Glee is not. This isn’t 90210 or (the soon-to-end) Melrose Place, where you’ve got your typical high school and college age characters. On those shows, the mean girls rule. On Glee, mean girls become compassionate (see: cheerleader), and the real villains rotate into that role only for an episode’s story arc before returning to level (see: nerdy overachiever).

• Jane Lynch.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #entertainment #fox #glee stories and more


  • ROBinNYC

    “Glee’s cast is only performing numbers the kids can sing along to.”

    Well…that’s not true. From Maybe This Time to On My Own, Don’t Rain on My Parade and Defying Gravity, this show sure has used showtunes. And it’s used not-very-current songs like Dancing With Myself, Say a Little Prayer, Leaving on a Jet Plane and You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

    It’s not necessarily the type of song or if it’s current. It’s how it’s used. And this show uses it’s music brilliantly…no matter the genre.

  • terrwill

    As to tunes sung, They should perform a wide variety of tunes from different eras. We want the oldsters to watch this show with the younger viewers……Performing a whole bunch ‘o top 40 tunes is gonna give Grandma the quizzies…….Reason I prefer this to be a family event, I want hypermasculine Dads like Kurts to see him comming out and being accepted…Ryan Murphy has stated that Kurt is going to get a real BF in the next few episodes and he is going to be a “jock” type showing that all Gays aren’t stereotypical fey types. We just lost one of the great Gay teen arcs of any show with Ugly Betty’s demise……….Hopefully Kurt and his soon to be BF can fill that void…………

    And to anyone who hasn’t viewed the scene where Justin and his boyfriend come out to Justin’s family at Hilda’s wedding and you want to sit and bawl like a little girl check it out, sure it is not the norm, but its nice to get lost in the fantasy for a few moments!……………

  • terrwill

    damm forgot the / !!!

  • Josh

    @Terrwill, sorry to disappoint, but Kurt isn’t getting a BF until season 2. That said, I’m very much looking forward to it!

  • terrwill

    @Josh: Boo Hiss :'(

  • fredo777

    @ROBinNYC: Agreed. I loved Arnie’s Dancing With Myself. I admit, though, that I didn’t know he was doing the Nouvelle Vague version until someone else asked me about it in a forum thread when I mentioned liking his cover.

  • Mr. Enemabag Jones

    Anybody remember, “Cop Rock”? Ugh…

  • fredo777

    @Mr. Enemabag Jones: haha. remember it? i just downloaded the entire run of it the other day because i wanted to check out all its cheesy wonderfulness.

  • Ian

    Well this is one gay who simply doesn’t get the popularity of this drivel of a show that abounds in cardboard stereotypes. But then again I’ve never liked American Idol either, which frankly I think speaks in my favor. I’m always saddened when I see Jane on a commercial for that show as her shrill over the top gym teacher, when I know she is a much more brilliant comedian than that show deserves or the terrible material they provide her.

    So to sum it up, this is a show with 0% character development (everyone is back to status quo pretty much by the next episode), pandering top 40 “musak” numbers, and truly BAD writing through and through. How this show can be considered to have even ONE redeaming quality, not less five, is truly amazing.

  • fredo777

    @Ian: How someone who obviously doesn’t even watch the show enough to know about its best qualities can rant on + on against it, is even more amazing.

  • ROBinNYC

    Dontcha just love when people think liking or not liking a particular moment in pop culture time speaks well of them? I mean…really.

    Fact is…there are lots of things I like that I can recognize are ‘good’ (MADMEN). There are plenty of ‘good’ things that I just can’t stand (SOPRANOS). And then there are the things that aren’t necessarily ‘good’ by critical standards, but that I adore because it somehow moves me in some way (BRING IT ON makes me incredibly happy, as does GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN).

    But none of this really matters. We like what we like for whatever reason. I adore GLEE because it speaks to the moment in my life when I no longer felt like I had nothing to offer. It reminds me of the time I found that I was really, truly good at something. It brings back that night I stood on a stage and opened my mouth to sing and I was no longer invisible. And it does it with a delicious mix of humor, camp and heart.

    Feel free to hate it. But don’t think for a second that your dislike speaks to who you truly are. And if it does…well, then…maybe the problem is deeper than a tv show.

  • James Davis

    @ROBinNYC: AMEN!

  • Jon

    If anyone thinks Jane Lynch plays nothing more than a shrill gym teacher on this show, they clearly haven’t watched it. She has a few over-the-top screamy moments, but there are a ton of other ways in which her character is absolutely the funniest on the show. They range from the subtle (her constant mis-remembering of Emma’s name) to the extreme (her cheerful disregard of PC and social niceties in her television commentaries), but they make her character unlike any on television right now.

  • ChicagoJimmy

    I don’t think it says anything about my personal character, but I don’t care for this show either. Idol either for that matter. Odd, because I’ve often said I wish life was a musical where we would all suddenly break into song and dance at the proper moment. Anyway, I saw it once and was bored by the very stereotyped characters. Having said that, I’ll let you folks enjoy it while I’m watching something else.

  • Carsen Tyler

    Well while Viva Laughlin was down right horrible, the British version “Blackpool” was rather fantastic. Then again maybe David Tennant and David Morrisey might’ve been what made it awesome.

  • Sean

    LOVE Jane Lynch and the Madonna episode is going to be EPIC TV. Can’t wait!

  • Whoddafunk?

    Three words: JANE LYNCH BABY!

  • Ian

    @fredo777: You assume I haven’t watched any episodes, I watched two to form an opinion. And my opinion is that this show is dreck. Now don’t think I don’t like camp as I was a major fan of Absolutely Fabulous (the 4th season was a little shaky, but overall the series was greatly written and acted).

    And I definitely LOL’d at commenter #11 basically saying I have (deeper problems of hate as to who I truly am) simply because I think a certain show is crap. ROBinNYC you definitely come across as the type who gets all bent out of shape if everyone in your orbit doesn’t completely and exactly share your specific opinion on something.

  • fredo777

    @Ian: I “assumed” as much because your assessment of the show was so off. You’re entitled to your opinion, of course. No matter how stupid it is.

  • Yet Another




    I love the show. I’m incredibly happy its back. I was a gleek also and it takes me back to all of those places too

    As far as the article tho, I don’t like Mercede’s being characterized as the fat girl. Number one, she’s not huge like “THE fat girl” would be. I’m pretty sure she’s just the black girl who can belt out power notes, serve attitude, and fade into the back ground whenever its time for the blondes or brunettes to sing lead.

  • ksu499

    Cop Rock? I loved Cop Rock. Randy Newman singing the theme song “Livin’ under the Gun” was excellent.

  • Pickles

    Less Rachel and Less Finn singing every freaking song would got make this show more enjoyable.

    I don’t care to hear Leah sing. She is NOT the best singer of the cast and Rachel grates on the nerves when she gets all the screen time.

    Leah is a wonderful actress and a good singer for SOME kinds of songs but I’m over every song Rachel sings sounding like she’s auditioning for Wicked or Les Miz.

    I love Chris and Amber’s voices. They are both wonderful actors, Kurt and Mercedes are fabulous on screen together and their numbers (on the rare occasion they get to sing lead) BLOW everyone out of the water.

    Mercedes’ “Bust Your Windows” and “Hate on Me” were out freaking standing and I rewatch them frequently.

    I don’t understand the obsession with Finn and Rachel singing every song or the perpetuation of the myth in the Glee Club that Rachael is the best singer. She simply isn’t.

    No offense to Leah who is lovely but I need less of her in order to appreciate her.

    Also, the idea that Amber should only sing R&B songs is ridiculous and short-sighted and a shame.

  • Blahblah

    @ROBinNYC: Oh shit! That is one of THE BEST comments i’ve EVER read on the internet. I’m not exaggerating! I’m really tempted to save it as a word file and just copy and paste it when I find myself in these situations. (I think I will. That ok? :O)

    Please have all of my internets! (<- Gamer/Geek phrase. It mean's you've earned my respect by being amazing! :P)

  • Blahblah

    @Jon: “Not everyone’s gonna have the walnuts to take a pro-littering stance, but I will not rest until every inch of our fair state is covered in garbage.” – Jane Lynch

    You won’t find awesome hilarity like that on any other shows. Her character is so hilarious and outrageous that I can’t help but fall in love! :P

Comments are closed.