Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Glee: Keep Me Hanging On

I've been watching Glee religiously. Unlike other 'girls' around my age, I didn't start watching the musical series because I'm interested in High School Musical, or teen comedy-dramas. Those ended for me when Marissa died; I've still to watch a full episode of Skins. I was initially drawn to Glee because of creator Ryan Murphy. He worked on two of my most favourite series ever made: Popular and Nip/Tuck. And like these programmes, Glee contains hilarious surreal tangents, flashbacks and witty dialogue.

Yet Glee ultimately fails in two places where its predecessors reigned: it lacks any sex appeal and fails to approach (or mock) any issues of moral panic, instead opting for incredibly conservative story arcs. Whereas Popular would look at eating disorders, and Nip/Tuck would introduce viewers to such ethical minefields as the possibility of letting Catherine Deneuve have her husband's ashes put into her breast implants, Glee doesn't get too specific on its issues. Or the way they're handled.Have you noticed that whenever a woman is pregnant on a FOX-syndicated TV series, she'll either have the baby or die herself? Funny, that.

The didactic nature of the programme slows its progress, but I take great comfort in watching a complete season of a series. I hated Ugly Betty, but insisted on watching to the end of season 1 before forgetting all about it.

However, there is something brilliant about the songs on Glee which may well keep me hanging on. As they are covers, the songs introduce the audience to a whole new world of genre and possibility. For example, the recent cover of You Keep Me Hangin' On. In ascending order of brilliance.

5. The Glee version. The shit version. It's got as much soul as a melting ice cap.

4. The 60's psychedelic version - Vanilla Fudge

3. The 90's country/house genre-bender - Reba McEntire

2. The 80's synthpop version - Kim Wilde

1. The astounding, 1960's Motown version - Diana Ross and the Supremes (although it was argued that Flo Ballard sang most of this track...)

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