Friday, July 8, 2011

The Glee Project

Since I use Fridays on the blog to discuss bizarre obsessions, I thought I'd highlight the latest and greatest: The Glee Project.

This is one of those reality competitions where a group of contestants battle to become the next best thing. In this case, one lucky teen will win a role on Glee. The contestants have to sing and dance and all that jazz to win the attention of casting directors, choreographers, and vocal directors. The final decision about who to auf each week comes down to the creator and head writer of Glee, Ryan Murphy.

In other words, folks, the writer HAS ALL THE POWER. Mwahahahahaha.

And that is the most fascinating aspect of the show. Of course, the contestants boast tremendous talent. The musical numbers, which they turn into clever music videos, Glee style, are brillilant. And it's fun to watch the behind-the-scenes casting decisions. But, in the end, the show is not just about finding a new talent, it is, at the most basic level, about creating a new character.

Because each of the contestants, singing and dancing their hearts out each week, have to inspire Ryan Murphy to write a story. They have to become someone that audiences must care about and tune in to watch week after week. It's totally mind-bending, when you think of it this way, these contestants have to ask themselves: How do I become a person with a story? How do I tell a story by being me?

At the end of each episode, they take the three 'weakest' contestants and make them perform a solo. I'm always fascinated by the songs they choose. One week, they chose 'Big Spender' from the musical Sweet Charity for a very innocent looking young girl, who was about 18 years old but looked much younger. The song has always been sung as a kind of striptease and the creators wanted to see what she would do with it.

In the end, she sang it, as it's always been done, like a striptease, trying to be something she was not. I became tremendously disappointed. When I saw this rosy-cheeked, freckled young girl and thought about the words of the song, I did not envision a seductive song from a chorus girl. I saw what it could have been had a different character sang it. A very sad song about an intelligent, thoughtful girl who meets a boy who is out of her league, who does not pay her any attention, who does not see her as she wants to be seen.

The minute you walked in the joint
I could see you were a man of distinction
A real big spender
Good looking, so refined.
Say, wouldn't you like to know
What's going on in my mind?
So, let me get right to the point
I don't pop my cork for ev'ry guy I see.
Hey, big spender
Spend a little time with me

It's right there in the lyrics but it's amazing what kind of story a new character can inspire in the words of a song I thought I knew. I like this show for that, for being about characters and what they can inspire.

Has anyone seen this show?


  1. I haven't, but I'll have to check it out. I do enjoy Glee. Loved this post, Melissa, because what you say about the writing of the character is so true.

  2. This is an old song--sung by either Julie London, or Peggy Lee, Maybe Eartha Kitt. It was used on a cigar commercial back in the '60s. Hot song. Love it.

  3. I've seen it, with my family, and we love it. I love the message it sends to young people about acceptance.

  4. I haven't watched a lot of Glee. But once I started writing I realized how many different kinds of writers there are in the world and how much power their words are. When I had my first story published in a magazine I sent my Grandparents a copy. They enjoyed the story, but when I went to visit we talked about writing a lot and how much effort it takes to get to the published stage with any work and my Grandad (who's in his 90's) said that he now thinks about the person who wrote the story or article when he reads whereas before he just read. I'm always thinking about the writers when I watch TV or a movie. :)

    Hey Big Spender makes me think about the roaring 40's and flappers...It makes me want to do the cha-cha. :D

  5. Love the maniacal laughter! You did such a great job with this post, that when I read the song lyrics, which I have known forever, I read them exactly the way you wanted me to - as a sad,slow song of longing. Brilliant.

  6. No. But I love the idea of how you imagined the young girl would sing the song ... and it could have been brilliant. When are you going to manage a few singers???? ... and maybe a band or two!!!
    Look back to my Sky Watch Friday to see my comment on your comment - as it were!

  7. I appreciated the Bridget Jones reference... hehe.