Unsolicited Endorsement #17: Glee

Surprisingly, I’m not writing about Joe Wilson, Jimmy Carter, Kanye West, or Taylor Swift.

I *am* writing about Kanye’s “Gold Digger,” which has been stuck in my head for the past two weeks, thanks to “Glee,” FOX’s best new show since “Arrested Development.”

“Glee” follows the travails of high school Spanish teacher Will Schuester (Broadway vet Matthew Morrison) and his attempt to resurrect the school’s glee club to its former glory days, i.e., when he was a student there. But because 2009 finds the glee club at the bottom of the social totem pole, he’s only able to recruit an astoundingly diverse handful of high school outcasts. (How diverse? They could easily be a rejected Benetton ad.) Schuester is also facing resistance—nay, downright enmity—from the cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (played with impeccable perfection by Jane Lynch), bureaucratic hurdles from his principal, and the neuroses of a controlling wife.

Naturally, hilarity and musical numbers ensue. And those musical numbers alone deserve to land this show on your weekly DVR schedule.

What’s completely unexpected is the real, sympathetic beating heart that serves as the soul of the show. Coming from “Nip/Tuck” creator Ryan Murphy, “Glee” has an understated sense of gravitas that prevents characters from becoming shallow stereotypes. (And for a series about high school, the temptation to go broad is too easy. The last dude who was able to pull it off successfully was Judd Apatow in “Freaks & Geeks.”) There’s nary a character in “Glee” that’s two-dimensional. Each one seems to have fully-realized hopes, dreams, and fears. Much like improv, the comedy is based on reality and not on the traditional sitcom-based crap that passes for comedy these days. And that heart is what makes this show worth getting on DVD.

With a talented cast of Broadway-trained and veteran performers, “Glee” is easily one of the best new shows of the season.


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