When Must went to school it was frowned upon to burst into song and dance in the middle of Mr Hall’s maths lesson, or to perform a spontaneous rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody during the Thursday morning assembly. For the cast of Glee however, it’s entirely normal – we’re quietly relieved we didn’t attend William McKinley High School.
That’s the home of the Glee Club, a group for misfit students who are better at singing than they are at surviving the toils of teenage life. They’re led by Spanish teacher, Mr Schuester (Matthew Morrison), who took over the club after the previous teacher got binned for inappropriate conduct with a student. Now Mr Schue must face the difficult task of getting these kids to stop fighting, shagging, and flirting with each other, and start singing instead, so that the Glee Club can return to its former glory and compete in local and national acapella contests. And it soon becomes a full-time job, once you add in his own flirtations with fellow teacher Emma Pillsbury, and the looming malice of the cunning cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch).
This show quickly became a teenage hit when it was originally on air in the mid-noughties, with its songs regularly reaching the charts, and people loving the relatable characters, like the painfully ambitious Rachel, laddish sports-jock Finn and the bitchy, but lovable duo of Brittany and Santana. And it isn’t just singing and dancing, as the show also deals with complex issues like sexuality, teenage pregnancy, disability, relationships and mental health struggles, with the show regularly being praised by critics and fans for its sensitive handling of difficult topics. And Ryan Murphy’s hit show somehow always kept it light and often hilarious, though this is often thanks to the savage wit of coach Sue.
Unfortunately, Glee did fall victim to that all-too-common curse faced by long running shows, where after multiple seasons it all went a bit wrong, leading to articles titled ‘how Glee made fans stop believin’’ and ‘I can pinpoint the exact moment Glee got bad.’ Brutal. However, we’d have to agree, there was a decline in the later seasons. But luckily, it picks up again at the end, with Variety’s Brian Lowry saying the finale was “everything it should have been, a sweet remembrance of what initially made the show take off.” So we can wholeheartedly recommend a rewatch, even if you do skip over a few episodes…
First shown May 2009. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.