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April 21, 2014

Why 'Glee' Soars Despite Scheduling, Genre Obstacles

by Chris Harnick, posted Apr 8th 2010 2:00PM
Glee on Fox

Let's face it, when describing 'Glee' (April 13 at 9:28 PM ET on Fox), it doesn't really sound that appealing to anybody over 16 years old. A group of outcast high school kids come together and periodically break into song? Yeah, OK. But, 'Glee' works. The series has won audiences far and wide and it has overcome more than its fair share of obstacles along the way.

Obstacle: It's a Musical
Let's open the TV history books for a moment and examine other musical shows such as 'Cop Rock' and 'Viva Laughlin.'

Check out the rest of the article after the jump.
Glee on Fox

Let's face it, when describing 'Glee' (April 13 at 9:28 PM ET on Fox), it doesn't really sound that appealing to anybody over 16 years old. A group of outcast high school kids come together and periodically break into song? Yeah, OK. But, 'Glee' works. The series has won audiences far and wide and it has overcome more than its fair share of obstacles along the way.

Obstacle: It's a Musical
Let's open the TV history books for a moment and examine other musical shows such as 'Cop Rock' and 'Viva Laughlin.'

Glee'Glee' works because of the setting. These kids are in a glee club, they're supposed to sing, music is a big part of their lives and it's natural for the characters to express their feelings through song. Not only does it make sense for them to be singing, but these kids pull it off. The show has the talent -- hello, Lea Michele, Amber Riley and Kevin McHale -- to pull off the huge musical numbers they aim for. When 'Glee' is on, audiences are on the show's turf and all worries melt away because it's that entertaining.

It might be fun to see Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler sing about their sexual tension on 'Law and Order: SVU,' but we don't want to see it happen on a regular basis, and that's why 'Cop Rock' didn't work out. Police officers, jury members and lawyers should leave the singing at karaoke bars, not in the court.

'Viva Laughlin,' a show about a casino, had some talented cast members, but again the setting doesn't necessarily scream musical. Also, it debuted on Sundays after '60 Minutes.' Those shows definitely did not have the same audience.

Obstacle: Early Pilot
Fans got their first taste of 'Glee' in May 2009. Fast forward almost a year and the first season is only half over. Fox kept the buzz growing over the summer with behind-the-scenes videos, interviews, song teases and character promo pieces. The pilot episode was also rebroadcast before new installments started in September. The strong performance of a certain Journey song in the first episode helped make a lasting impression on the audience, too.

Chris Colfer GleeObstacle: It's a Teen Show
Yes, 'Glee' is set in a high school. Yes, some of these characters are incredibly over-the-top, but the show works because for every time Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) dons a zoot suit, Kurt (Chris Colfer) and his dad (Mike O'Malley) have a shockingly real and emotional scene dealing with Kurt's homosexuality. 'Glee' has a nice balance that many shows struggle to find. It's not as sappy as maple syrup, nor is it as cheesy as a block of aged cheddar, it's just 'Glee.'

According to a Fox press release, 'Glee' ranked No.1 in its time period among adults 18-34 years old, adults 18-49 years old and teens. The final two episodes before the hiatus were seen by more than 8 million viewers according to TV by the Numbers. So along with the 16 year olds, there are quite a few adults that tuned in to watch the adventures of New Directions.

The characters aren't perfect, they have flaws -- some outlandish -- but they work in the spirit of the show. Sue and Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig) are deliciously evil and Rachel is charmingly obnoxious. 'Glee' has toed the line of too absurd, but for the most part stayed balanced. if it continues to keep that balance and stay true to its misfit beginnings, then it has a long future ahead.

Jane Lynch GleeObstacle: A Long Winter Break

After the first 13 episodes aired, 'Glee' went on hiatus for four months -- four long months without fun music and lovable characters. Yes, it was a dark time for many. Historically, shows have a hard time coming back from a long hiatus, but Fox kept the 'Glee' momentum going. How did they do it? With the immediate release of a DVD and two soundtracks that tore up the music charts. Not to mention that after the first 13 episodes aired, the cast was everywhere. They were at the World Series, they went on 'Oprah' and they performed at the White House.

As if that wasn't enough exposure, the show won a Golden Globe, a People's Choice Award and the cast received Screen Actors Guild awards. Add in the social media aspects such as character Twitter and Facebook accounts and exclusive videos like 'Sue's Corner' (below) and Fox made sure 'Glee' content was only a click away.



Tell us: What makes you love 'Glee'?

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