On Glee

Not Just a River in Egypt

By Diane Shipley

Like most musicals, Glee
portrays a heightened reality. To enjoy the show is to suspend our
disbelief and accept that we cannot take everything we see literally.
When Kurt performed “Rose’s Turn” (“Laryngitis,” 1-18), for example, he
began singing in the school hallway, was magically transported
to a stage that featured his name in lights, and then returned to
(so-called) reality, where his dad applauded him. Other songs take
place inside characters’ imaginations: when Mercedes smashed Kurt’s
windscreen in anger in “Acafellas” (1-3), the school carwash became the
scene of an impromptu performance of “Bust Your Windows,” with the
Cheerios as improbably well-rehearsed backup dancers. Then we saw
Mercedes, the cheerleaders, and the car all transported to a spot-lit
auditorium before cutting back to the parking lot, where only a few
seconds had elapsed. In “Dream On” (1-19), Artie, who is paraplegic,
appeared to break into a dance routine in the middle of a mall, but he
was actually just daydreaming. These logic-defying multi-location
performances and dream sequences help define the show as surreal,
tongue-in-cheek, and unapologetically escapist.

Most of the show’s characters are larger-than-life, from mini-diva
Rachel to the nefarious Sue Sylvester, who is Machiavellian out of all
proportion to her role as a high-school cheerleading coach. Important
storylines are a bit bizarre–head of the celibacy club Quinn expecting
her boyfriend’s best friend’s baby, Will’s wife pretending  …

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