Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reasons for Glee's Success

Several reporters interviewed me today about the reasons for Glee's success - it returned after a several month hiatus with double the ratings - and what I think of its future.

Here is a little of what I told them (I'll put the links to the stories here when they're posted in the next few days) -

1. Glee is one of best examples of a television show that draws on older media (songs we all know) and new media (songs on the show are available for download on iTunes).   I explore this powerful hybridization of old and new media in my New New Media book.

2. A TV show about a high school in middle American is a welcome relief from the high-tension punch-in-the-stomach drama of 24, Criminal Minds, etc., much as I love those shows.   A high school story about real people is also welcome alternative to the mind-tangling, paradoxical stories of Lost, much as I love that show, too.  But people appreciate an alternative to that kind of demanding television.  Like the critically acclaimed Friday Night Lights, Glee appeals to the need we all have to see stories about people living like us.

3. Coleridge talked about "that willing suspension of disbelief" which allows us to enjoy fiction.  Although breaking out into song is in one sense absurd, once we break through that sense, it is as natural as songs we hear in our heads.

4.  The mixing of musical styles and traditions is one of the strengths of the show, and helps it appeal to a wider audience.

5.  I think Glee is an important television show, which will be around for a while, because of all the reasons above - especially its "just plain folks" appeal, or telling us a story about people not much different from us.



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