The Masterful Brilliance of a Musical Backdrop


“We helped each other become better people.”

So says the character of Ryder, on GLEE in one of the final episodes of the show this season. He was stating this fact as the students prepared to say goodbye to their beloved GLEE Club and the very room that had cradled their life journey since 2009.

It got me thinking about this ground-breaking program.

On Internet Movie Database, the show was described as:
“A high-school Spanish teacher becomes the director of the school’s Glee club, hoping to restore it to its former glory.”

How far did that go?

Well I remember watching the first episode. There was so much hype behind its launch that I thought I’d give it a shot. Within the first five to ten minutes, I had to turn the channel. I wasn’t sure I could handle all the spontaneous moments of singing. I thought, “Oh seriously? It’s a musical?” I wasn’t prepared for that nor was I interested in investing the time. I figured it would fail anyway, audiences not into a singing dancing kind of show.

But I was wrong. On it went and with each new episode, it gained more fans and was eventually embraced by a devoted and loyal following.

I’m not going to talk about ratings or seasons scandals, about tragedies (though the death of Cory Montieth still shocks me) or outlandish campiness, about silly developments or celebrity guest appearances. I mean you either love it or hate it. I’m not attempting to convince you either way.

What I do want to speak of is the power of the characters, storylines and how the magic of MUSIC amplified everything.

I returned to the show in Season Three and marveled at how well the actors, most unknowns before the start of the series, had become the people they were portraying. With each new episode packed full of heartache, friendship, romance, mischievousness, frustration, these young actors (most obviously older than their on-screen high school years), breathed such life into the vision of Creator Ryan Murphy and his colleagues that you came to forget they were, well, acting. I’m not saying they were necessarily Oscar-calibre performances, but they were believable and they made you care.

In the world of GLEE of course everything is Hyper-real. The Highs are incredibly high, the Lows are devastatingly disastrous. The Relationships are all over the place. The Flamboyancy is crazy colourful. The Cruel is maliciously dark. But the MUSIC, insanely brilliant from show tunes to billboard chart toppers, helped raise each and every aspect of the storyline to incredible new heights.

For one reason or another, after watching an episode, I was left teary-eyed and emotional. The musical backdrop did wonders in how it expressed inner demons, worries, joys, sadness and left the audience feeling far more than they would have if it was merely presented in a conversational dialogue.

I thought, if this show could have such an affect on a non-high school teen, then how far-reaching was its hold on those in the thick of such drama?

The combination of Good Writing and MUSIC created an unforeseen power. When words on a page can transform into living breathing beings and are coupled with the right song to elevate the circumstance, you come to somehow care about, cheer on, despise, celebrate or weep openly for someone more deeply, before the screen fades to black.

Though I never really rooted for any particular character and was annoyed by others, I was moved. I was moved by the friendship and the challenges overcome even if I didn’t always agree with the matter presented. Why? Because the quality of the MUSIC performed and the talent of each of these young stars impacted me.

I praise the creators for being so bold as to dream up such a television concept. I do believe GLEE will go down as a life-changing series (just look at how many schools are now embracing song and dance).

And I celebrate the efforts of each and every writer who has contributed to the colourful menagerie that is GLEE.

peekiequeen c. On Writing, Thursday, April 3, 2014