Through music, song, dance, and drama, this past Tuesday Fox aired the first in a two-part episode of this wildly popular television show that has become for millennials what a Norman Lear sitcom accomplished generations before, a culturally significant and entertaining reflection of contemporary American society. Glee‘s 100th episode is being called a milestone in what co-creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck ( “Nip/Tuck” and “American Horror Story”) and Ian Brennan have crafted though five season and featuring over 600 songs, addressing issues related to homophobia, racism, and bullying. But, all along, music has been central to its appeal.
Big Names Return
In this current episode, members of the original cast, joined by Gwyneth Paltrow and Kristin Chenoweth, have returned to save McKinley High’s cheerful choir, New Directions. Principal Sue Sylvester has determined to shut it down. The Band director charges the alumni to bring back the nostalgia by singing some of their well-known tunes. The idea was that this episode would feature the current seniors reminiscing about their most memorable moments as they approach graduation from the Lima, Ohio, high school.
The Gleeks Participate
Since music has always been an integral part of the show’s success, “Gleeks” (or super Glee fans) were invited in participate in the fun. Back in this past November of last year, they were able to cast a vote on the show’s Facebook page or website for their favorite musical numbers from a list of 30 of the songs the show has featured. The promotion was called “Gleeks Choice: You Vote. We Remix.”
Dark Humor, Wit, and Intelligence Return with the Nostalgia
The result was an episode where old classics were revived in a new way. This allowed the show to reminisce some of its most popular musical numbers. Santana, Quinn and Brittany performed a rebooted Britney Spears’ Toxic while Santana and Brittany performed Amy Winehouse’s version of Valerie. Kurt, Rachel and Mercedes saluted Wicked’s Defying Gravity. Paltrow as Holly Holliday walked to the beat of a different drummer and performed Pharerell’s Oscar-nominated Happy. Much of this entertainment was a backdrop to a humor that seemed sharper and dark, reminding viewers of earlier Glee seasons in which the writing seemed wittier and more youthful. Yet, the episode had just the right amount of wackiness and intelligence with perfectly executed music routines.
Tribute to Cory Monteith
The episode also considerably mentioned Cory Monteith, who played lovable jock, Finn Hudson. While the previous episode paid an extensive tribute to the actor who died in 2013, Mr Schu unveiled a plaque dedicated to Finn’s memory. In fact, Monteith’s classic lead of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” in the first season is what many felt lead to Glee’s hit status.
Turn in next week on March 25 to see more of this musical cultural phenomenon that is part “Rocky Horror Show” and “Fame” but is molded with a contemporary and popular delightful edge that makes the show’s name perfect.