What made “Nip⁄Tuck” succeed in its first two seasons was its amazing stories. The complex, conflicted, screwed-up characters were put in situations to which we could relate. It was a modern fairy tale that spoke to basic human fears, values and emotions.
This sense of relatable fantasy is lost entirely in Fox’s “Glee,” the new drama by “Nip⁄Tuck” creator Ryan Murphy. Despite the familiar high school setting, the stories take a backseat to the show’s decidedly bothersome visual style, which takes over every scene in the show. Whereas “Nip⁄Tuck” was a fairy tale grounded in a believable modern world that addressed contemporary concerns, “Glee” entirely lacks a sense of reality. We often want to scream out to the television: “What planet do these people come from?” Fail.
Jane Lynch is as annoying as ever, the songs are not catchy, the on-the-nose dialogue is annoying to the ear and the whole just feels plain affected. This is no fault of the actors; they are doing their best with the material given to them. Fail.
Don’t get me wrong: I am Murphy’s number one fan. “Nip⁄Tuck” is still my favorite show on cable television, and Murphy’s 2006 feature adaptation of Augusten Burroughs’ “Running with Scissors,” although a box-office disappointment, stands in my list of Top 10 favorite movies ever. But here, Murphy fails. FAIL! The character quirks and the dark subject matter are not supported by strong story lines, so the show endures a dark, slow death. I smell a big, flashy failure for Fox, which has been counting on this show to recapture the youth audience they lost with the departure of such shows as “The O.C.” and “Ally McBeal.”
Dramedies work when the “dark” story makes us reflect on how and why we feel good or bad about things and the way our society is constructed; here, the “darkness” is the only fabric of the show, with no well-constructed characters or stories to hold the whole together. I dare you to watch the show for more than five minutes and be entertained. If you do, and like it, you are either lying or you’re not human.
On another level, the show represents how amazingly easy it is to succumb to self-delusion of Hollywood. Just about everyone at Fox who was (and probably still is) a huge fan of the show, believes it is the best thing since grated cheese. The pilot (the “premiere” that aired on the network last May in an attempt to create some buzz and, might I add, distract from the show’s forthcoming and now very visible failures), was really well edited, filmed, lighted, acted and directed, which added to the sense that we had “quality programming” here! It was just so beautiful!
Oh, by the way, what’s the show about? Well, for those of you who have had the chance not to sit through the torture of watching “Glee” (keep it like that!), it’s about teachers and students at a high school, and specifically a glee club teacher and his struggles to recruit students for his choir, which he hopes can compete at regionals. It’s a relationship-based show, but the characters are so quirky, and their relationships so unbelievable, that we don’t care much for them at all.
But don’t take my word for it! Who knows, starting next week, this might become the number one hit of the season, which will just prove that western civilization is headed for self-extermination.