Glee, the hit musical dramedy series on FOX, is now in its second season (with a third already commissioned) and has found an untapped (or at the very least unsaturated) niche in the TV market. With TV series “best of” lists for the past ten years littered with the likes of HBO’s The Wire, Sopranos, AMC’s Mad Men, West Wing, etc, Glee has filled a fun-loving escapist niche in evening entertainment – and it has filled it well.
Most of the hit television series during the last 10 years have centered around cops, lawyers, politics, business men, drugs, violence, affairs, and… well, are you starting to see the pattern? A lot of it produces good television, but every so often you want to escape. You want something light, cheery, and uplifting… and true to its name, Glee delivers.
Inspired by the great success of the reality TV escapist giant, American Idol, Glee encourages viewers to kick their shoes off, unwind, and just enjoy the entertainment. There’s no heavy thinking necessary. Glee’s base of characters is large, bold, and organized in an almost hyperbolic way with the intention that each character is almost a caricature of a stereotype (or reverse stereotype) that you may find at a local high school. Often they’re cast with a small twist, as is the case with the new football coach Shannon Beiste, but each character’s true role in the show is always made very clear (again, as shown by Beiste, who’s name is pronounced just as her character has been cast – a “Beast”).
Perhaps the only other fictional TV show to enter this niche successfully in the past 10 years was The Office, which is now in its seventh season and clearly having lots of success. And while Glee could never be as cheap as The Office to shoot (think of all the costumes!) it is currently getting more viewers per episode than any season of The Office ever did (running at an average of 9.7 million viewers / episode in season 1).
So, in a world of depressing 24 hour news and reality TV that is not afraid to get trashier and trashier (how is 16 & Pregnant in a 2nd season?), Glee is most definitely a welcome, bright, uplifting boost to an otherwise heavy (if not gloomy) line-up of evening entertainment.