Sunday, September 26, 2010

Life Before Glee

Who enjoyed the Season 2 premiere of Glee? I sure did. I've watched the episode Auditions a few times already, mostly for Charice's appearance as new girl Sunshine Corazon. Filipino Pride Ya'lls!


Upon reading interviews with show creator Ryan Murphy, he blatantly states that he has never watched Disney's High School Musical, which some claim as an influence on the show's rising popularity. I can easily see that as a fact, I however think there might have been some other factors in the media that might have influence the look and feel of this ground breaking show.

Let's start at the beginning with the 80's series Kids Incorporated. While Fame dominated most of televisionat the time, Kids Incorporated is best known for starting the careers of Fergie (then known as Stacy Ferguson), Jennifer Love Hewitt (known simply as Love Hewitt), Mario Lopez and Eric Balfour among others. Like Glee, Kids Inc. would feature popular songs of the period as well as old favorites. Unlike Glee, it had more in common with an sitcom with stand-alone episodes as opposed to a serialized dramedy. The budget even equaled that of a cheap 80's sitcom, so of course it looked awesome to kids of the 80's like myself. The revolving cast made it hard for original fans to stay on board. Pretty much the quality started to decline when Stacy Ferguson bowed out. I loves me some Fergie.

From 1999-2001, the WB's most original show was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But aside from Buffy, there was also the immensely popular Popular, which was created by Glee creator Ryan Murphy. The show featured two awesome female leads on opposite sides of the High School hierarchy who find that they will soon become sisters when their individual parents fall in love; an idea that was carried onto Glee when straight boy Finn's mom falls for homosexual cutie Kurt's dad. Also carried onto Glee from this show is the idea of jocks and cheerleaders in musicals, and all of that was waay before Disney's High School Musical as well. Characters occasionally break out into song, but it's too few and far in-between. Glee can be seen as a sort of spiritual sequel to Popular and I wouldn't be surprised if both shows were in the same TV-verse. The show was unfortunately ended too soon before it's prime. Both seasons can be bought on DVD. The Season 2 cover rocks. I voted for it on their webpage back in the day ;-)

Early incarnations of Kurt and Finn?
Popular - The Complete First Season
Popular - The Complete Second Season

After Popular, came a movie called Get Over It, directed by openly gay director Tommy O'Haver.  Get Over It is a long forgotten teen comedy with a musical angle. A high school basketball player falls for a girl, causing him to join the high school musical. This story premise should sound familiar to fans of Disney's High School Musical. The difference is that the movie is dominated not by original songs, but classic hits like "Love Will Keep Us Together" and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again." The original songs that are contained in the movie are awesome and penned by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who also did the music for Hairpspray the Musical. Kirsten Dunst stars in this movie with an impressive supporting cast and does a lot of the singing, and she ain't bad. This movie is well worth a view if you can find it. I have a feeling it's out of print. 

Check it out, Mila Kunis was in it too
Get Over it
Glee is groundbreaking in the sense that it breaths new life into the musical genre. It takes what was before them and brings it to a level of a billion. Here's hoping that it continues to break new ground with it's unique storylines and interesting song-to-scene associations.

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