Everything You Need to Know About the TV Show “Glee”
The TV show “Glee”, which ran on the Fox TV network from May 2009 to March 2015, was an American musical comedy-drama about the students and faculty at William McKinley High School. The show was immensely popular, developing an active fanbase of “gleeks” (“Glee” geeks), who enjoyed the music, acting and storyline of the show. The show also attracted critical acclaim, winning more than 70 TV awards, including a Golden Globe for best musical or comedy.
In large part, it was the music of the show that turned “Glee” into such a hit TV show. “Glee” tells the story of a high school glee club, New Directions, which performs songs from a wide mix of musical genres, including traditional a cappella music and modern pop music hits. Over six seasons and 121 episodes, “Glee” featured music from the likes of Queen, the Beatles, Beyonce and popular musicals. In fact, the show itself is based on the popular “High School Musical” franchise.
The show’s popularity was also due to its willingness to take on important topics and issues that resonated in American society. While the show focused on “coming of age” plotlines that spoke to the complicated dimensions of high school relationships, it also took on more universal issues, including the feelings of being different from the group. “Glee” often delved into current events, race relations, the rights of the LGBT community and discrimination. The overarching theme of the show was overcoming differences and teamwork.
The show follows the development of a high school glee club from William McKinley High School as it tours the local choir competition circuit. Each episode focused not only on the music that was being performed, but also on issues of diversity, whether they were related to sexuality, race or gender. Singing competitions became a way to have a broader public discourse on social topics of the day.
The original 12-member cast of the show included the glee club director, Will Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison), who is also a History and Spanish teacher at the high school, cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (played by Jane Lynch), guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury (played by Jayma Mays), Will’s wife Teri (played by Jessalyn Gilsig) and eight members of the club (played by Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Mark Salling and Jenna Ushkowitz). Over the course of the six seasons, the cast of this club changed, expanding to fourteen and fifteen members.
A real highlight of the show for many viewers was the frequent appearance of celebrities on “Glee” – including Gwyneth Paltrow, Meatloaf, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Jeff Goldblum, Helen Mirren, Whoopi Goldberg, Gloria Estefan and Olivia Newton-John.
It was the combination of all these factors – the music, an engaging plotline, the universal themes and the celebrity guests – that made “Glee” into such a cult hit. The show launched 25 Billboard Top 100 singles and led to FOX creating a number of grassroots singing competitions similar to the ones on the show. It was the enduring appeal of the music and the willingness to take on important social themes in American life that made “Glee” such a popular and critical success.