I know some of y’all are probably bored with my Glee-induced distress right now. But I wrote up some thoughts for The Atlantic on what the folks running other television shows could learn from Glee’s mistakes. Of the peeves I have, I think the one I’m most vexed by is the lack of attention to setting:
One of the most appealing things about Glee in the beginning was the decision to set it not in one of the cities that are the corners of the Hollywood Triangle — New York, Miami, and Los Angeles — but rather in small-town Lima, Ohio. And the show was clear about the economic circumstances of both the school and the characters. The school district’s strained budget meant the nascent show choir was in believable peril and fueled intelligent early plotlines like the school’s inability to finance a handicapped-accessible bus to accommodate Artie, a member of the choir who uses a wheelchair. His teammates’ initial willingness to accept those circumstances, and his pointed explanation of their prejudices, fueled one of the show’s best episodes.
Similarly, the individual characters’ financial straits fueled believable plot developments. Will Schuester, the choir’s likeable director, took on part-time work as a janitor to support his family, only to find himself in closer proximity than he expected with the school’s pretty guidance counselor. Finn, the football team’s quarterback, also needed extra money to to help support his pregnant girlfriend, Quinn, but was unable to find a job. So Rachel, the show choir’s star, swallowed her jealousy of their relationship to find a novel solution to his plight.
I really do hope Glee pulls itself together. I’m definitely open to being won back.