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Last spring I wrote a generally generally positive review for Glee. While I really liked the show, I did say:
Know this: Glee is not for everyone. In the end, it may not be for enough people and those it targets could lose interest quickly. You must know some things going in (and I realize being an apologist this early is not the best sign): The students are far from realistic, the dialogue is a bit forced and the moments can trend towards the cheesy side.
Going into episode 2, “Showmance,” I kept this in the back of my mind. I reminded myself that Glee is a silly high school drama with a quasi- Bring It On -style biting humor. Wanting it to be anything more would probably be folly. And I realized that this is the perfect attitude for Glee because behind the cheesy glitz and corny teenager dialogue is a show bursting with adult wit, crass sensibility and just really #$&#-ing funny one liners.
Will Schuester is a man with problems. His wife has his choir bells in a knot. She obsesses about material gain and her most recent dream acquisition is a house waaaay out of a lowly teacher’s pay grade. Her materialistic psychosis prompts a Glee Club cover of Gold-digger superimposed over a montage of Will’s wife decorating the house they can’t afford. A great scene even if I was a little confused whether Will was supposed to be singing or just lip-syncing. His financial woes force him to beg for an overnight janitorial job at the school. The scenario is beyond unrealistic, but is a means to romantic end between him and Guidance Counselor Emma Pillsbury. This love scenario becomes more likely when we learn that Will’s wife isn’t actually pregnant. (She is just getting fatter from eating too much, but she isn’t about to tell Will.)
Additionally, the Glee Club is performing before school for the first time at the pep assembly. Will wants them to perform some terrible disco song. The club members recognize the problem in this. The school already hates them. Singing an outdated and annoying song will only compound their negative social status. In a moment of sexually repressed rebellion (the cheerleaders, glee club members, and jocks alike are all part of an after-school celibacy club), the club performs a version of “Push It,” that simultaneously makes them school hits while also bringing serious administrative limitations on their song choices going forward.
The performance also puts Glee Club in an awkward position concerning membership. They need more voices to qualify for regionals (which they need to make in order to remain a club). After they over-sex the pep rally performance other parents won’t let their kids join. This leads to some Cheerios (cheerleaders) joining the club. They are there to steal the spotlight, win Finn’s heart away from Rachel and spy on the club for their coach.
The true highlight of Glee is Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch). Anyone who has seen The 40 Year Old Virgin or Role Models knows Lynch is a true scene-stealer. Her deadpan delivery of the most inane and contemptuous lines make her one of the main reasons Glee is so enjoyable. It is a show making fun of itself. Her seeming life goal of destroying Glee Club by any means necessary only enhances her comedically-menacing character.
Glee is far from a perfect show and I could do with a little less with the overdubbed singing, faux teenage angst and smushy love, but hey it’s a high school dramedy after all. The laughs more than make up for it. "Showmance" was just the follow up the season premiere needed. It set up what will be a season-long feud between the Glee Club and the Cheerios as well as giving a huge question mark: how the hell does Will's wife have a fake baby?