A publication of the Department of English & Philosophy at Drexel University

The Power of Glee

When I first heard of the TV show Glee, I had no idea what it was about. My friend had seen a preview for it while watching So You Think You Can Dance?, and she was gushing about it the next day. After I saw the preview, I understood why she was so excited. Glee looked like a really good idea for a TV show, and I couldn’t wait until it aired so I could see if it was going to be worth watching. Somehow, I ended up missing the pilot episode, but I caught the next one the next week without realizing it wasn’t the pilot. I forced my mom to start watching with me, and I was amazed that she liked it as much as I did. The only slightly annoying thing about the show is that the song choices and singing aren’t all that great.

Glee is about a high school glee club. At the start of the show, the Spanish teacher at McKinley High, Mr. Schuster, decides to make extra money by starting a glee club. The first episode is all about auditions and the formation of the club, which winds up consisting of a ragtag bunch of kids, many of which don’t know much about singing. From there, the show chronicles the daily lives of the members of the glee club and Mr. Shuster, as well as his rival, Coach Sylvester. She coaches the cheerleading squad, whose budget was cut to support the glee club. Because of this, she makes it her mission to ruin Mr. Shuster and his club. The seasons take viewers through the progression of high school from the viewpoint of the not-so-popular kids and how they handle different situations. Glee was created to bring parents back to their glory days of high school, but it caught on with school-age kids and teens as well.

Since the beginning of the show, Glee has had a tendency to sing every Journey song the writers can get their hands on. This has made listening to Journey less than enjoyable, because all I can think about is the horrible Glee rendition of the songs. There’s one Journey song in particular that I can’t bear to hear anymore: “Don’t Stop Believing.” Glee has done two different versions of this song, and both of them are awful. The lead female singer, Lea Michelle, has the most annoying voice of any artist I’ve ever heard before, and her vocals make the song impossible to listen to. In addition to this, my high school choir, of which I was a member, sang the Glee version of “Don’t Stop Believing” as the graduation song the year I graduated. While the song choice made some sense (based on the lyrics), it didn’t work out as well as it could have. Most of the time, we weren’t singing words at all, just “da” over and over again, which got pretty old after the first few bars of the song. This was to mimic the instruments that are a part of the original version of the song, but are not a part of the Glee version. The soloists were the ones who got to sing the words, and they weren’t wonderful. It was a little windy during our outside graduation ceremony, so we couldn’t really hear the piano that was supposed to be accompanying us. What ended up happening was that the soloists lost pitch, and that caused most of the choir to lose pitch as well. As most people know, out of tune songs sound awful, especially when half of the choir is still holding the correct pitch. Eventually, my choir director pointed at a group of girls who were very off pitch (and being obnoxiously loud, I might add), and made the universal “cut” gesture: she drew her finger across her throat. The look on her face as she did that was a mix of frustration and hilarity. We were all frustrated that the song wasn’t working out well, mainly because most of the choir couldn’t sing – they only took the class because they thought it was an easy “A.” Being at graduation was a requirement, and most of them didn’t want to be there in the first place, because we had to sit on the football field in our choir robes in the middle of June. That memory comes back strong every time I hear any version of “Don’t Stop Believing.”

The best thing about Glee is the message behind each episode. Every episode deals with a different life situation, such as teenage pregnancy, underage drinking, texting and driving, and being homosexual or homophobic. The storylines play out like real-life situations would. One episode follows a student who is homosexual and attempts suicide because he cannot take the stress of facing people who hate him because of his sexual orientation. His father discovers him before it’s too late, and the members of the glee club show their support and visit him, even though he was awful to them. After episodes like this, my mother and I would have chats about what happened in the episode, and how we would handle it if something like that happened to people we know. These conversations helped me to bond with my mother in a way we never had before, and it allows me the freedom and comfort to talk to her about things like this. If it weren’t for Glee, we would not have such an open relationship.

Unfortunately, my mother and I don’t watch Glee together anymore. In fact, we don’t watch it at all anymore. With the end of the second season, many of the original members of the glee club graduated and went off to college. My mother and I watched a bit of the third season premiere, but decided the show had taken a turn for the worse. The story lines weren’t as real-life as they used to be, and they were nowhere near as powerful. If the writers decide to go back to the way the show used to be, I would consider watching it again. For now, my time with Glee is over.

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