Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Has "Glee" jumped the shark?

I managed to go a whole month without mentioning "Glee" ... but of course that show is rarely out of the entertainment news cycle, even with another month until the next new episode airs. The latest announcement from the "Glee" camp concerns Lady Gaga's upcoming single "Born This Way", which is due to be performed in a future episode. And just like that, I believe "Glee" has crossed a line.

The appeal of "Glee" is simple, at least the way I see it. You get to hear your favourite songs performed on TV, staged in audaciously theatrical, weird, and zany ways. They take songs that everybody knows and stick them in a totally different context, acted out by oddball teenage characters who have little in common other than a shared love of singing. They're equally at home performing either classic or contemporary hit. And since there are approximately a zillion beloved hit songs to choose from, "Glee" looks set to be on the air from now until the sun goes supernova and swallows the earth.

I've got no problem with themed episodes or with the show's producer's revealing the songs weeks or months ahead of time -- I don't need to be surprised. But "Born This Way" is different. It hasn't even been released yet. We're supposed to be excited about hearing it on the show in a couple of months time, but nobody's even heard it. "Glee" has crossed the line from performing hit songs to trying to break songs and make them into hits. Whether intended or not, this feels like cross-promotion for Lady Gaga's new album. And once you go from being a nostalgia show to a show that plugs the new release schedule, you can't go back.

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