Glee More Than Lives Up to Its NameS

I sincerely hope you watched the premiere of Glee last night. Fox's new funny/sad series about a high school glee club was spunky, precocious, and sincere—normally things that are annoying. And yet, somehow on this show, they aren't at all.

Matthew Morrison (South Pacific at Lincoln Center) plays Will, a bored Spanish teacher with a materialistic shrew of a wife who gets a bit of divine inspiration one day and decides to become the new head of his school's once-proud, now fading show choir.

Lea Michele (a Julia Allison lookalike from Spring Awakening on Broadway) is the star singer, a less political and more musical Tracy Flick, and the adorrrrrable Corey Monteith is Finn, the aw-shucks football star with a secret passion for song. These two characters may sound a bit like cliches, and they are. But as livened up by sparkling writing and non-showy performances, these old archetypes seem suddenly shaded and complicated. Really, they seem new again. Whereas you can plug the same plot formula into any other number of let's-put-on-a-show high school stories and get basically the same results every time, Glee's first 43 minutes seemed to hint that the tale will unfold a little bit sideways, into the world of the weird. Think The Office set in high school and with, you know, really fun musical numbers ("Don't Stop Believin'" being a particular highlight last night).

The show is a definite gamble for Fox. It's gay as hula hoops, stars mostly unknowns (if you're not a theater nerd), and the second episode won't air until the fall. But if it pays off, something good and earnest (but not treacly) could bloom on a network that, sans the chintzy corporate glitz of American Idol, is in dire need of some cynicism antivenom. One hopes that where this show would sputter and quickly disappear on the more unforgiving ABC (the only other logical place on network TV for this kind of program), Fox—which seems to have slightly different ratings standards—will give it a longer runway. Other than song rights it can't cost much to produce. The actors are probably payed in collectible old Playbills! Because they're theatery!

But the show really isn't just for show queens, I promise.

Here embedded is the first episode. Put your work headphones on and give it a chance. Blow off the QED report and please watch it and tell other people to watch it.

I think you'll find that the title of the show says it all.