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Lea Michele from GleeA bit like eyeing up a Snickers bar after a tough day in the trenches, the TV comedy/musical Glee seemed to me to be the TV analog of said sweet treat– tempting, but ultimately unfulfilling and potentially leaving you with the regret of having consumed it. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Yes, the premise is sugar coated; cast of Ohio high-school teachers, quirks, odd-balls, princesses, jocks and cheerleaders all get thrown together in various ways to form a glee club. Must overcome various challenges– personal, social and ecological– to achieve their goals. But the execution of this premise is anything but sugar coated; the show plays off its own stereotype and doubles back on itself with plenty of dark, biting humour and enough interesting plot turns to keep the greatest skeptic entertained.

I found the show to have a very positive effect. It's unrelentingly optimistic without being cheesy; the songs are a great mix of old and new, the costuming and direction are bright, dynamic and vibrant, the cast are all very believable and have nailed their role stereotypes perfectly. All this combines to really rub off and put one in a happy, goal-achieving frame of mind.

This is all quite intentional…from the wiki entry:

[Creator, Ryan] Murphy intended the show to be a form of escapism, explaining: "There's so much on the air right now about people with guns, or sci-fi, or lawyers running around. This is a different genre, there's nothing like it on the air at the networks and cable. Everything's so dark in the world right now, that's why Idol worked. It's pure escapism."

The highlight for me is the alluring Lea Michele, cast as lead female Rachel Berry. Michele has been on Broadway (Les Mis) since age 8. Her voice is so strong and so bright you can't help but smile when she sings. Her character is so naively earnest, ambitious and bright (on the treadmill at 6am every day  listening to "break my stride" while visualising her goal of winning a Tony; signing her name and placing a gold star next to it, etc, etc) you can't help but love her despite her occasional lapses into deep conceitedness. She plays a great foil and anti-hero to the pretentious slickness of the princess chearleader types.

Also worth mentioning is the unique Jane Lynch. She, as coach of the school's rival cheer team, sends up with great aplomb the model of the uber-driven, take-themselves-way-too-seriously, high school coach (and their charges). Very enjoyable. Never fails to put a smile on the dial, despite the occasional lapse in plot. Plenty of fun for kids and adults alike. Optimism reigns in Glee and thus makes a great ancillary recommendation to specs of all stripes. The cast albums and tracks from the show are available on iTunes.


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