“Being a part of something special makes you special, right?”
This is the question perky and ambitious sophomore Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) poses to Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) in the very first episode of hit show “Glee” about being in the high school glee club. And man, is this show really something special. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show that tries to stuff every single high school trope and cliche into one series.
I was first introduced to “Glee” through its soundtracks when I was in elementary school. I wasn’t old enough to watch the show quite yet, but as a kid who loved to sing and dance, the “Glee” CDs were some of my favorites. Not only did they have songs from musicals but from all sorts of genres such as classic rock and pop.
When I got Netflix around eighth grade, I finally watched the whole series. Though, I’ll admit, I never finished the last season because the show got to be so unbearable by that point. But for a time, “Glee” was one of my favorite shows.
The series starts by following Rachel, your stereotypical, annoying theater girl, and the rest of the glee club’s rag-tag group of high schoolers: football jock Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), eccentric and flamboyant Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer), emo Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz), diva Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) and the dorky, opinionated Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale).
They all form a glee club under Spanish teacher and former McKinley High School glee club member Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). Of course, the majority of the show’s plot points involve the drama between the students, whether it be Quinn’s (Dianna Agron) teen pregnancy or the secret relationship between Cheerios Santana (Naya Rivera) and Brittany (Heather Morris).
One of the best characters — who can’t go without recognition — is the brash, tracksuit-wearing Cheerios coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), who I found myself hysterically laughing at while rewatching the show with my roommate. Her disdain for both Will and the glee club, and the lengths she goes to in order to end them is cartoonishly hilarious.
In my opinion, the first season of “Glee” is magnificent. It’s a near-perfect high school dramedy that’s aware of how ridiculous it can be sometimes. It plays up the satire of the loser and popular kid dynamic while not being over the top.
While I think the second and third seasons are also pretty decent, the show starts to take itself too seriously and eventually becomes cringey. Once the majority of the main characters graduate, the show shifts from having just the high school glee club plotline to also having a separate story arc about its former members living in New York City, which becomes pretty ridiculous. By the final season, the show becomes almost unwatchable.
Regardless, as a former high school theater kid, the show is shockingly accurate in a lot of ways. We all know a Rachel Berry (or maybe we are her), and we all know what it’s like to be in a competitive environment like the one created in the titular club. There are moments where I deeply relate to something that happened on the show that mirrors my days of high school theater.
While the later seasons of “Glee” are messy, the show is worth watching at least once — if only up to season four — for its individuality, humor and, most importantly, the music. The song covers are fantastic, and I still find myself listening to them years later.
“Glee” can be streamed on Netflix.