Glee. Guilty pleasure? Mild obsession? Unhealthy attempt to relive my glory days of musical theatre from high school? Whatever it is, I love Glee. I avoided watching it like the plague for the longest time because the way Fox advertised it, I thought it was just going to be another awful version of the already awful High School Musical. That’s what I get for judging a book by its cover. It turned out that I was missing out one of the sharpest satires and comedies on television and while lately, it has tried more and more to be dramatic (and it’s doing that well too), it has been one of the most consistently fun shows on network television and the only one that I still consider to be must watch television.

Glee is the story of a high school Spanish teacher, Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) who takes over his school’s struggling Glee club, the New Directions. The original members of the club are Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), an incredibly talented singer with aspirations of being a Broadway star who would be an unbearable diva if she weren’t so talented, Finn Hudson (Corey Monteith), a dumb jock football player with a heart of gold, Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale), a kid in a wheelchair but who’s probably the smartest kid in the group, Tina Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz), a gothic girl with a stutter, Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer), a fashionable gay kid, and Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley), a sassy black girl with an incredible R & B voice. They are also eventually joined over the first four episodes by Noah Puckerman (Mark Salling), the bad boy, Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron), the bitchy cheerleader, and other back up dancers and singers that don’t get needed character development until later in the series. The cast is also rounded out by Jane Lynch’s Sue Sylvester, coach of the cheerleading squad and the funniest character on the whole show.

Since the show is about a Glee club, music plays an obviously important and central role to the show, but character development and story lines take front and center over the music and that’s what puts this show head and shoulders over other musicals about high school kids like High School Musical or the new Fame. In the first group of episodes alone, the gay character Kurt got one of the most heartfelt and sincere coming out stories that I’ve ever seeno n network TV. His father, a recurring character played by Mike O’Malley, is one of my favorite minor characters on the show in how they play a realistic but loving father-son relationship between a straight dad and gay son. The story line between Will and his love interest Emma (Jayma Mays) is a highlight of the early episodes and is my favorite will-they or won’t-they since Pam and Jim on The Office. They have great chemistry. They also play a situation about a teenage pregnancy quite well for both dramatic and comedic purposes (although one wonders if they even teach sex-ed at McKinley High School).

Glee has a little bit of something for everyone. The only show on network TV that I think is funnier than Glee is Modern Family. It’s got great story lines that develop really well as the series progresses, especially the anti-bullying story line in season 2. It’s got a lot of romances that you can invest yourself in emotionally. Also, it has a sound track that covers basically the entirety of popular music, from show tunes to rap to rock to country to R & B. No matter what kind of music you listen to, unless you listen to nothing but obscure hipster stuff, this show will do something you like and do it really well. Some of the musical highlights from the first four episodes include “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Bust the Windows Out Your Car,” “Gold Digger,” “Take a Bow,” “Rehab,” and “On My Own.”

I know so many people that refuse to even give Glee a chance because of the subject matter. My dad absolutely dreaded watching it when I finally forced him to watch it and now we have regular debates about who did better on the show’s competitions. I beg you to just give the show’s first four episodes a real chance. Come in understanding that it started out as a satire of the high school musical genre and that it’s playing stuff straight and parodying everything. If you watch the first four episodes and it isn’t for you, then that’s fine, but people really need to give this show a chance. It’s still the best show on network TV in my opinion, and I will be a loyal viewer for as long as they can maintain the show’s high quality.

Score in Progress: B+

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