Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Glee: The phenomenon cometh.

Paid for or otherwise, today's Guardian ran a full page spread on upcoming new show to E4, Glee. The teaser, pilot episode, which aired a few weeks ago, was a heady cocktail of High School Musical 1,2, and 3 combined with Mean Girls, American Idol and 30 Rock. Feeling sick yet? Think what you will, but this show has already been a massive hit in the US due, in no small part, to its escapist appeal across all the generations. There's singing and dancing for the kids, hot teenagers for the teenagers, and biting wit for the grown-ups. It really is one for all the family.

Furthermore, there are two trends into which it has brilliantly, if obviously, tapped. Firstly, everyone feels like hell - they've no money, no jobs and they've just had a pretty slim Christmas. The family appeal of Glee allows everyone an hour of Betty Draper-style family time in front of the flat screen. And by Betty Draper I mean perfect, charming and happy not Manhatten-slinging, gun-toting blonde bombshell. That comes later. Watching Glee, Americans can escape to the Disney fantasy they grew up with. But will Brits do the same?

Secondly, Glee follows in the footsteps of shows like X Factor and American Idol in sending old songs straight back into the charts. And the charts mean money. As more and more people watch TV on their computers, the distance between watching and purchasing is narrowing. Like that song? Buy it in seconds on iTunes. Love what they're wearing? It can be delivered the next day. Gossip Girl goes part of the way there, in terms of making the products the characters use integral, if not downright critical, to the plot. But Glee seems to be the first drama which actively ties entertainment to purchasing.

Glee airs over here from 11th January. Watch this space.