High School Musical for fans of black comedy
I spent a long time trying to work out if I wanted to watch this show. Musicals can be very hit and miss with me. Set it in a highschool and the chances of me enjoying it drop dramatically. But throw in a level of self awareness, some black comedy and some quirky characters? Now things are looking better.
Glee is the story of a small town high school in the middle of nowhere. You have those at the top of the popularity spectrum – your cheerleaders and football players. And at the very bottom you have those who are in the glee club. Will these kids achieve against all odds? Will they find self esteem through performance? Is this their one and only opportunity to find satisfaction in life? Welcome to high school life Glee style.
I enjoyed this show. I didn’t expect that. I think it’s the subtle black humour that pushed me over the line. Extreme budget cuts, professional grass painters, and schools doing song and dance routines to Amy Winehouse songs. It’s all played straight and that takes it to a new level. If you like Freaks and Geeks or Elected you’ll be able to see the influences here.
The characters are quirky and off beat. When you look at how messed up the lives of the teachers are, there’s no chance the kids are getting out of high school unscathed. Everyone has different reasons for joining the Glee club. Or for wanting to tear it down. There’s a ton of potential here for story lines and comedy gold.
The character of Rachael stands out. The over-acheiving daughter of two gay dads desperately seeks to be famous. Every night she posts a new video of her singing onto her myspace page. To her, fame is everything. “Now days, being anonymous is worse than being poor. Fame is the most important thing in our culture now.” Rachael sums up the attitude of our culture so well. Everyone wants to be famous. It doesn’t matter what for. And with youtube and facebook and twitter and everything else, it seems easier and easier to achieve that. But is that where we find fulfillment? Will becoming famous complete us, make us whole? Or will it leave us empty and wanting something greater? Fame promises much, but it is ultimately empty. We can look for meaning for our lives all over the place, but unless you look for it in Jesus you’re going to come up short. It’s through Jesus we have forgiveness of sins. It’s through Jesus we have salvation. It’s through Jesus we have eternal life. It’s through Jesus we have the love of God that we don’t deserve but he gives us anyway. Jesus says “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
What I really love about shows like Glee is the message that it’s okay to try. To express yourself. To do things that are socially risky. To be the person you want to be. This is a great message for Christian teenagers. No, I’m not telling you that you should join your schools Rock Eisteddfod group (but if you want to, go for it!). What I am saying is that being a Christian at school is hard. It can be a massive social risk to stick your neck out and let people know that you’re a Christian, that you’re different. Take this message from Glee. Stand up. Be proud of who you are. And if you take the risk, others might see who you are and want to know who Jesus is.
For more articles by Joel A Moroney, head on over to Pop Culture Christ.