In the wake of a cappella rush, a hectic time for those involved in, and trying to become a part of, singing extracurriculars at Yale, the new Fox television series Glee has provided some comic relief for students. The show, which premiered on Tuesday night after its pilot release following “American Idol” in May, exceeded the expectations of Yale’s seasoned singers, students interviewed said.
Glee is, if put simply, a mixture between “High School Musical” and “Fame,” with the dry humor similar to “The Office.” Featuring new Broadway musical star Lea Michele, the program is geared toward “Spring Awakening” fans as well as musical theater buffs. So far the show has been described in reviews as offbeat, touching and sexy, for its adult-geared humor yet playful subject matter.
“I thought Glee was going to be awful,” a cappella singer Sarah Rosen ’12 said. “But with talented singers like Lea Michele — I am a fan of Spring Awakening — and witty humor, I think the show was saved. It’s the gender-neutral chick flick TV show that you watch when you need something mindless.”
Just since its premiere, the show has, three students interviewed said, shown the potential to garner a similar cultish obsession to Disney’s trio of high school musicals.
With the fervor of a cappella rush sweeping across campus, the show’s premiere is timely. As Yale freshmen attend all-a cappella concerts, prepare for auditions and callbacks, and go on countless rush meals to become members of one of the 13 official groups on campus, the TV show depicts the struggles of six bottom-feeders trying to make it to the top.
“If you combine the awkwardness of high school and the awkwardness of those who seek refuge in singing in high school, you get some pricelessly entertaining stuff,” a cappella group member Matt Zuckerman ’11 said. “As I’m watching the show, the lengths that certain characters go to ensure their success musically do seem comical, but looking back at the rush process with a distant sense of self, it can kind of shed light upon the craze that’s going on during a cappella rush here.”
Part of the humor of the show is that it in no way tries to present realistic images of high school or glee club. The cast is comprised of a group of stereotypes including the over-achiever, the hot jock, the catty cheerleader, the disabled dork, the overweight black girl, the gay man and the trendy Asian chick.
It is no question that the program is campy. But while the cheesy plays upon itself are consistent with the nature of the show, Aneka Roberts ’09, a former a cappella singer, said the stereotypes go too far.
“The big, black girl with the strong voice is stereotypical and unfortunate,” Roberts said. “But, really, my main problem is that, as a fan of “High School Musical,” I recognize that Glee is geared toward the 18–to–26 age range, whereas HSM is purely for children and is therefore a guilty pleasure.”
For the other a cappella singers interviewed, the likeable and comedic characters will put a cappella on the map.
“At Yale, we live in this strange reality where singing and a cappella, and even Glee Club, are ‘cool’ so we’d love to be able to claim the hilarity of the show,” Zuckerman said.