Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bland Leads Dull Glee

The TV world has its own natural laws, some of them more difficult to understand than those of Einstein's relativity and string theory. I often wonder about casting. Especially those who get to play the lead roles are frequently chosen as if failure is the goal. Glee is a typical example of this.

Glee contains some colorful characters, such as the coach Sue, played by Jane Lynch, and the gay student Kurt, played by Chris Colfer. But the leads – quarterback Finn, played by Cory Monteith, and his love interest Rachel, played by Lea Michele – are as bland as American coffee was before Starbucks.

Their love story is too G-rated to be at all believable. It is little else than advertisement for teen celibacy. Their singing and dancing lack any originality or even distinction. Most of the time, they just walk around looking sad and confused.

Of course, Glee is nothing but karaoke with a slight spicing of drama, just like American Idol. But even so, one would expect the production company to find leads with more charisma and musical talent. There are several others in the show who have more of it – such as the wheelchair boy Artie, played by Kevin McHale, and the black power-voice Mercedes, played by Amber Riley.


The two leads are chosen from a middle-of-the-road perspective, in an effort to find a couple that most of the viewers can identify with – but who wants to? And since they also get to sing leads on most of the songs, what's left to enjoy in the show? I bet that its popularity stems from the glimpses given of the other characters, and the few moments when they get to sing.

Producers believe that they know what people want, but that's just an excuse for their nurturing their own prejudice about culture and mankind. They refuse to see that in the real world of music, deviation from the norm is king. Artists that attract huge audiences again and again are anything but bland.

Show business is messed up, because it's controlled by businessmen instead of artists. It's quite possible to do business with art, but art is not primarily a business. TV company executives want their shows to keep top ratings without provoking anyone. That's not possible. Record companies want their pop stars to be virginal and still keep an audience going through puberty. Not likely.

The fairy tales of old contain both joy and cruelty, success and disaster, as does life. That's why new generations of children keep discovering them. The arts can't disarm reality. That wouldn't be art. They must concentrate and enhance it. Thereby, the patterns of life as we really experience it are revealed, and that which Aristotle called catharsis is accomplished. Good fiction gives us release, so we can bear the thorns of real life.

Boring lead roles counter the process of catharsis, by muffling the drama and slowing down the development of the plot – not to mention that nobody cares about the outcome. Learn from the best drama of them all, Hamlet, where everything evolves around a raving madman.

Here's the first season on DVD at Amazon

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