Glee: The Myths And Mirth of TV’s Cult Fave

by | September 14, 2009 at 5:12 AM | Cover Story, TV News

(Fox)

(Fox)

It can happen when a TV show breaks out even before the second episode airs – especially when the pilot runs in the spring, and viewers have all summer to speculate and spread rumors

Indeed, there’s naturally a bit misinformation that surrounds Fox’s “Glee,” a new musical comedy series from “Nip/Tuck” producer Ryan Murphy that has – despite only modest ratings so far – very quickly captured a youthful, extremely loyal fan base.

Has any other show ever hit cult status as quickly?

Counting the pilot episode that was screened alongside “American Idol” in May, only two episodes of “Glee” have aired so far. [Watch both here.] But you didn’t know better, you’d have to guess the series was established hit for several seasons, judging by the amount of Internet and critics chatter about it.

Watch full episodes of ‘Glee.’

We’re talking about a brand-new show that already has myriad blogs (gleefan.com is OK), nearly 228,000 Facebook friends and impressive 77 score on Metacritic (“Don’t stop the music,” reads the headline of a recent Los Angeles Times review).

And the ratings are already solid.

The show, explained by many critics as a cross between the Disney Channel phenomenon “High School Musical” and Judd Apatow’s short-lived “Freaks and Geeks,” is performing closer to the former than the latter.

Watch ‘Glee’ news and highlights.

Its season-premiere episode on Sept. 9 drew a respectable 7.3 million viewers, winning the night among the group that counts to the broadcast television business, 18-49-year-olds.

So this thing’s going to be around for a little while.

With so many people talking about this emerging new hit, Fancast talked to some of the producers and cast members to find out what’s true and what isn’t.

Myth: Creator Ryan Murphy is on the set of “Eat, Pray, Love,” the an adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir starring Julia Roberts. He’s barely involved with “Glee,” if at all these days.

“I describe our creative team as the body, and he’s the architect,” says executive producer Brad Falchuk. “He’s the brain. He’s involved in every decision we make. He’s the deejay picking all the music. And he directed three of the episodes this season. So he’s very, very involved.

.

Fact: For a youthful cast of mostly newcomers, this is an especially challenging show to perform in because you have to learn not just the lines, but the moves, too.
“Yeah, it’s really hard to do, especially in the beginning because we were learning how to work with a choreographer and shoot the show and pre-record the music,” concedes Cory Monteith, who plays the studly Finn. “We were taking weeks to do some of these dance numbers… Pretty much every moment that we’re not shooting the show, we’re learning the dance routines or choreographing the dance routines or recording the songs.”

Myth: “Glee” is a shameless attempt to cash in on the “High School Musical” phenomenon
“Certainly, before envisioning the pilot story, none of us had ever really
seen it,” says Falchuk. “And so obviously ‘High School Musical’ is great, but this is a little bit edgier, a little more adult. Obviously, it’s something you can watch with your kids, but the idea is to keep things a little more adult than ‘High School Musical’ is. So I wouldn’t say we’re trying to cash in on it… And my understanding of ‘High School Musical’ is that it’s a true musical. This is just a comedy with music and dancing.”

Fact: Mark Salling (“Glee’s” Mohawk-wearing, football-playing, glee club-hating Puck) was really a jock in high school… And he really can be a total douchebag!
“I wrestled,” he explains. “I didn’t play football. But, yeah, I try to make the character my own and try to implement, you know, aspects of my personality into him.”

Myth: The kids of “Glee” actually have no musical talent. It’s all lip-synching.
“When I was eight years old, I fell in love with singing, and ever since then it’s been my passion,” says Lea Michele, who plays Rachel Berry. “And I’ve been dedicated to it since I was young.”
Meanwhile, Amber Riley, who plays the thick-with-it, outspoken Mercedes Jones, says she was two years old – and one year into even be able to talk — when her mom heard her singing for the first time and enrolled her in voice classes. “I learned different tones to my voice, and I learned that I could sing different types of music,” she says.

Fact: Sue Sylvester is the biggest bitch Jane Lynch has ever played, and she’s played a lot of them.
“I think it’s reached a pinnacle with Sue Sylvester,” she concedes. “She has to be the most scheming, unashamed, entitled person I’ve ever played… and I’m just adoring it.”

.

Myth: “Glee” producers license the song, then they build the story around it.
“Usually the idea for the episode comes first,” Falchuk says. “Sometimes a song will inspire a little bit of the theme of the episode, but in general, the episode will come first, and then the songs will jump in after that. It’s hard to sort of do push a bunch of story lines along. It would be hard to just throw a song structure around a specific song, especially because in the 13 episodes, they’re not serialized. For a few of them, the songs came first, but not often.”

Fact: There will (likely… fingers crossed) soon be a “Glee” soundtrack.
“We’re hoping,” says exec producer Dante Di Loreto. “We’ve got a partnership with Columbia Records, and we’re hoping that the first soundtrack CD will come out in November and hopefully in success there will be a second one that will come out in December. We’ve produced over 60 tracks so far for the show.”
Di Loreto adds that you have to have hope.

Myth: Actor Kevin McHale really is confined to a wheelchair.
“We really wanted the cast to be representative,” says Falchuk. “We wanted people to see themselves in the cast. Thematically, and on a human level, people would see themselves in the storytelling about underdogs, but we also wanted visually for people to see themselves. So having somebody handicapped was sort of important to us… We didn’t happen to find somebody who was actually handicapped, but we wanted to find somebody who could bring that truth to the (role).”

Fact: The “Glee” kids really were geeks and outcasts in high school!
“I didn’t really fit in with anyone at my high school,” admits Chris Colfer, who plays, er, butch manly man Kurt Hummel. “I was kind of like the lone duck in the pond, you know, slightly going off on my own and criticizing everyone around me.”

Myth: The “Glee” kids really were geeks and outcasts in high school!
“I had a really great high school experience,” Michele says. “I tried to dabble in a bunch of different things, and I had lots of different kinds of friends.”