The TV That Made Me: Glee

by thethreepennyguignol

I thought long and hard what to put in this final spot for The TV That Made Me series. There are so many shows that I’ve loved so deeply that I could have put here for simply defining the time in my life when I found them – American Horror Story, Vikings, Riverdale, Hannibal, Carnivale, the latter of which I initially planned to put here. But those are shows I’ve just loved, and, however deep that love might go, at the end of the day, it is just that: a really fucking great show that I really fucking loved at a specific point in my life. When it comes to shows that have defined me in a deeper sense, I have to turn to something that I don’t love. Something I actually hate quite a lot. Something like…Glee.

I’ve written about Glee so much on this blog already (here, here, here, and here in case you want to read about it), and honestly there’s a good goddamn reason for that: I was fucking obsessed with this show for years. I first came across it a couple of seasons in, when it had long sunk beyond maverick zeitgeist hit and into desperately uncool loser territory, and I had just never seen anything like it before: that blend of popular music and musical theatre, the commitment to camp, to meta-commentary, that hyper-reality and inherent sadness at the center of it all flicked some switch in me that I could never flick back again, no matter how hard I tried.

I spent the first three months of university, depressed out of my mind, inhaling that series from start to finish again just to stuff my useless brain full of something. I let it lead me down endless musical theater rabbitholes, landing me in love with the whole medium as a result. I cried the day Cory Monteith died. Glee, for as bad as it got, was a show that I deeply and profoundly loved, a theater spotlight in the times when things got so bad I felt like I couldn’t find a way out.

But we’ve already whined enough about depression and the shows that helped me get through it. No, when it comes to Glee, I want to talk about something far more important: television criticism.

Glee is a show that’s objectively, overall, pretty bad. The music is occasionally incredible though often dire. The characters are thinly-sketched and often played by actors who brought little to nothing to them. The plots are rambling and confused and double-back on themselves in soap-opera developments a dozen times over before they get anywhere interesting. And I knew all that when I was watching it – I rolled my eyes when the ended a mid-season with a dramatic car accident, when they used suicide as a hand-wavey PSA, when they refused to address bisexuality in any meaningful way during the show despite its claims at being LGBT-inclusive. I could see that it was bad, and yet, I found myself coming back for more, fascinated at the way it could pull off these moments of intense power and emotional depth amongst the frippery of garbage it usually draped itself in. And, so I started writing about it.

Though I mostly write fiction now, I started off covering pop culture, both on this blog and for a number of other sites that helped me pay my way through university and beyond. And it deepened my connection with pop culture as a whole – I truly fell in love with this stuff when I started taking it apart and putting it back together again, figuring out what I loved and what I hated, finding the shows that helped me gum my life together.

And this blog has continued for almost six years now, despite me moving on to gayer pastures, and I can honestly say that this little corner of the internet that I can call my own has changed my life. I’ve shared things about myself that I never thought I would be able to talk about with anyone here – from sexual dysfunction to self-harm to actually liking KJ Apa as an actor somewhat – and this blog has been a lifeline for me when I’ve needed to shout those feelings into the void but can’t speak them out loud. I’ve had the support of so many amazing readers and followers over the years, whether I’m snarking about Steven Moffat or sharing my experiences with disordered eating, and it’s through this that I found a readership for my fiction, too. Without this blog, I would never have had the nerve to think about penning something as personal as Rape Jokes, my first novel which is due out later this year – but the incredible support of the people here has convinced me to keep writing, and convinced me that my stories are worth sharing.

Maybe that sounds a little soppy, maybe it sounds a little ridiculous, but the Guignol has given me a confidence and a commitment to my writing that I have never found anywhere else. And there’s no Guignol without Glee, without my intense obsession with breaking down why it worked and why it didn’t. So, for that, Glee is the last entry in the shows that defined me – because the people reading this, and the people who have read, supported, and commented on this place over the years too, have changed my life. if you’re thinking of starting writing somewhere, whether it’s a blog or some other medium, I can’t reccommend enough that you give it a try. I never would have imagined that this place would earn the readership that it has, but it’s been beyond rewarding to have that and to know that some of my writing has helped people in a hard spot. It’s trite, but you really never know who you’re writing is going to reach, and putting it out there can be hard – but it’s worth it. Trust me.

And I’m going to leave you with one of the songs that has always meant so much to me, courtesy of Glee: Don’t Rain on My Parade, as performed by Lea Michele. Because it feels right.

That’s us for the TV that made me series! You can find the whole series here, if you’d like to read it from the start. And, of course, let me know in the comments below or over on Twitter what media made you. Books, TV, movies – what changed your life, and why?

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more stuff like it, please consider checking out my other blog, the movie site No But Listen, or supporting me on Patreon!

(header image courtesy of The Wrap)