May 22nd, 2011
|02:53 am - Glee: Puzzlement & Disappointment|
A bit over a month ago, I started hearing more about the tv series Glee, mostly surrounding a continuing storyline about two young queer men who become involved, which is not something one sees much of on US TV, and especially not on a major station like Fox. I'd heard a bit about the show before, but hadn't been interested, and in looking into more about the show, I also ran into comments about how the storyline with those two characters was excellent (and in fact based on the teenage experiences of one of the writers), but the rest of the show was rather meh, and so I put it on a mental list of shows to check out someday. Today, there was a Glee marathon, and Becca and I watched around half an episode.
Sadly, for me, that was it for any thoughts of watching the show. I was unhappy with exactly how much of a soap opera it was, and that it seemed solely a soap opera, rather than (like similar shows that I tend to like) having both soap operaesque personal relationship plots and other sorts of plots – good examples being both The Vampire Diaries (which is shockingly excellent), and Hellcats (which I quite liked and was sadly canceled recently).
So, my interest was already waning, but I was still potentially interested, until I saw some of what I can only describe as the highly stylized "quirky" parts, with several utterly ludicrous minor characters. I honestly cannot watch shows with such elements, and was immediately reminded of the only other example that I've seen (which was admittedly considerably more extreme), a truly bizarre show called Pushing Daisies, which had an extreme stylization (often described by people who liked it as either "storybook-like" or "quirky"). While not (to me) as cringe-worthy as Pushing Daisies, at this point I simply lost all interest Glee, which is a shame, since the plotline with Kurt & Blaine looked interesting, but I simply couldn't handle some of the rest of the show at all.
I suspect that it's both a combination of a seriously dislike for that sort of stylization, and also the fact that what I've seen of this sort of stylization has been in the service of comedy, and any movie or TV show (other than a few old movies made before the 1960s) that heads too much in the direction of comedy drastically turns me off. Buffy and Angel were (to me) on the correct side of the comedy/drama line, but something about Glee isn't - or it may simply be that I dislike the stylization too much to enjoy the show and assume that it's being done for comedic effect - I remain utterly baffled as to why anyone would deliberately choose to create stories using those stylizations. The sort of somewhat surreal comedic stylization found in both Pushing Daisies & Glee seems at least moderately popular, but I simply do not understand the appeal of this approach to storytelling, well beyond my dislike of much modern comedy.
In any case, given that there is now at least one openly queer minor character in more than half of the US shows that I regularly watch, with luck there will be more LGBT romance storylines in shows that I am interested in watching within a year or two.
Current Mood: confused
I watched the pilot of Glee shortly after it first aired and had a similar reaction: it felt like they were going out of their way to make the characters both caricaturish and profoundly unlikeable. In reaction, I rented the first seasons of the 1980s TV series Fame from my local video store and loooved it (cheesy songs and bad eighties synth aside): the characters are warm and complex, the teachers are friends with each other and very few of the season 1 plots revolve around romance.
I'm sure Glee has its merits, because a lot of people seem to love it, but it's not for me at all. I couldn't watch Pushing Daisies, either, and only got a few episodes into The Middle Man, another slightly too try-hard-quirky show (though I do plan to give the latter another chance sometime, for Natalie Morales).
Glee isn't stylized, it's surreal! That's the only way they can handle the sort of issues they do without falling into tragedy. It helps if you enjoy the sort of musical comedy that employs imaginative stylization in the place of expensive special effects. I tend to loath most modern comedy, but I love Glee.
Interesting. In talking with Becca, I realized that one of my biggest problems with shows like Glee is that they take place in worlds that are drastically internally inconsistent - at some points, things are highly naturalistic, in others, exceptionally stylized/surreal, and that just breaks things for me.
"at some points, things are highly naturalistic, in others, exceptionally stylized/surreal, and that just breaks things for me. "
For me the whiplash is part of the fun. One minute, Coach Sue is doing her comic opera villain bit and in the next scene she's completely humanized by the act of reading her Down's Syndrome older sister a bedtime story. And it's all consistent with her character.
I think I may have an easier time of it because I grew up watching movie musicals, which are inherently surrealistic. After all it's very rare that in real life people burst into song while walking down the street.
For me the whiplash is part of the fun. [...] I think I may have an easier time of it because I grew up watching movie musicals, which are inherently surrealistic.
Me too. I think it reads as "fun" to me because it provides comic relief in the literal sense, reminding me that this show is just for fun and not meant to be srs bznss. Now, I love stories that are srs bzness, and I can get srs with the best of the cats, but usually the kind of stories that do this are not the kind I wanted to be srs about in the first place.
The sort of somewhat surreal comedic stylization found in both Pushing Daisies & Glee seems at least moderately popular, but I simply do not understand the appeal of this approach to storytelling, well beyond my dislike of much modern comedy.
Although I'm not into Glee, that particular style is one of my favorites, personally. Honestly, I don't know how to explain why -- I think it's just a matter of different tastes.
Huh, I expected Glee to be your sort of thing. What turns you off about it?
Nothing in particular. I don't think I've ever seen more than five minutes of it. It's just not high on my list compared to lots of other stuff I enjoy, and I'm not generally big on teen drama without some monsters and magic to distract from the constant relationship stuff. (Freaks and Geeks and My So-Called Life are two exceptions to that rule for me)
Out of curiosity, do you tend to enjoy Terry Gilliam's work? It seems like that's the extreme end of what you're saying you don't like, and he's my favorite director. Different strokes and all...
I enjoyed Time Bandits and found The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus to be interesting (although exceptionally dark with the number of times we watched Heath Ledger's character die), but mostly I'm fairly indifferent to his work. I largely don't hate it, but it's also not my sort of thing.
I don't watch Glee either, but I really loved Pushing Daisies and most of Terry Gilliam's films (with my favorite being Brazil). Have you seen Graham Linehan's work? From Father Ted to Black Books to the current IT Crowd, he is my favorite TV writer/director. As you can see from my icon, I also love Jeeves & Wooster.
Absurdist or surreal humor has been a love of mine since I first saw Monty Python and, later, read Ionesco's Rhinoceros. Gods, how I loved that play as a teenager!
If you've seen Jeeves and Wooster, are you also familiar with A Bit of Fry and Laurie? It's my favorite sketch comedy show, and tends toward the thoroughly surreal.
What kind of humor do you like? What books, films, or TV shows reflect this?
I loved the old Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant film Bringing up Baby, and I liked the snarky sarcasm of Buffy.
Pushing Daisies was like the bastard child of magic realism, surrealism, and ironic self-awareness. It didn't work because it didn't work.