The Lessons We Can Learn from Glee!

(Warning: Spoilers for Season 1 below)

I’ve mentioned this show in my blog a number of times in the past. I keep coming back to it for the simple reason that I will always think it is one of the most uniquely innovative shows that defines our generation.

As every episode of the show is unveiled for public consumption, it just continues to keep giving me more reasons to love it.

Their interpretations of seemingly ordinary songs makes for a full and constantly played and replayed playlist on my iTunes. As an ensemble, they sound terrific. Lea Michelle’s voice is awesomely strong, powerful and evocative. Even without video accompaniment, hearing her sing about her loves, joys and heartaches makes me feel the exact same things she feels.

Their story lines are contemporary and genuine. Teenage pregnancy, discrimination, broken families and the dynamics between high school kids with the classic mean cheerleader girls, popular jocks and the misfits take me back to my own high school days and remind me of the same pain and angst every high school kid must go through to build character.

But perhaps what really differentiates this show from any other high school flick is how almost every episode of Glee! can make you feel like you’ve actually learned something from the show. In my mid-thirties, I actually sometimes feel that this show makes me stronger and gives me perspective on my own life.

I haven’t started with Season 2, though I’ve seen and heard a lot of spoilers. One of the season’s episodes tackles mortality, faith and religion. If you think about it, the youth today are growing up with a much less firm grip on spiritual fundamentals. Many today question the existence of a God (in whatever name or form He is referred to) who rules over us all. Many prefer to believe that there is no God, and that our mortal life on earth is the only life there is.

But the show reminds us that in the grip of a mortal life filled with grief, pain, hardship and disappointments, we can’t go on believing that this is all there is to it. At the end of it all, there is something bigger than all of us that has a promise of bringing back balance and giving us consolation for all that we go through.

In Season 1, one of my favorite episodes tackles the issue of teen pregnancies in America. It paints a realistic picture of what happens to teen relationships today and how they regard and behave towards sex.

These days, sex among teens is as commonplace as breathing air. A girl can have multiple sex partners, and can have casual sex without a second’s thought. You lose your virginity at a relatively older age, you’re seen as a prude.

It’s so different from how sex was with my generation. We were all mortally afraid of teenage pregnancy. So we either staunchly waited until (at least) College, or better yet after school altogether; or took great precautions to be extremely cautious. The few who eluded good sense of caution, ran out on luck and got knocked up… were frowned upon and shunned, cast out as “loose” and lacking in morals.

In Glee, Quinn was cast out of her home; cast out of cheerleading and frowned upon by her former friends.

So maybe yes, sex is commonplace, but good sense to elude caution is still frowned upon.

Quinn’s consolation comes in the form of a bunch of campus misfits who’ve found a home and solace in each other. They remind us that really, regardless of what comes to us in life, we can get by with a little help from loving and supporting friends who will be there no matter what.

As a general rule, I like happy movies. I like shows that paint a picture perfect life, or shows that have a happily ever after. In my thirties, I’ve stopped wanting to see shows that paint a too-accurate portrayal of real life and all the pains that come along with it. My life is complicated enough, and too real enough — that when I sit back and relax to watch a show, I want to be transported to another world for a brief moment in time, in revel in stories that give me a tiny lift in my heart.

I think perhaps, Glee is my exception… in a paradoxical way.

On one hand, it’s happy-happy, feel good, lalalala singing all the way. Almost every episode ends on a high note.

On the other hand, it’s not too far from what has become real life today.

A gay couple raising a daughter, broken families, single parent households, teen pregnancies, performance-enhancing drugs, racial and status discrimination… what happens out there in real life, name it – it’s all somehow inside Glee.

But just like life, I think what makes this show so special is the feeling of hope it leaves behind. Behind every struggle is a group of zany, crazy, insane obsessive-compulsive weirdos who’ll never abandon you to the wolves.

In simple terms, shit happens. But at least you don’t have to deal with your shit alone.

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The Things that Make Us Laugh

It’s been awhile.

With all the events and drama surrounding my life in the last few months, I’m thankful for the few things that continue to make me look forward to returning to the land of the living, and enjoying a daily existence filled with joy and laughter.

While things will never go back to how “normal” used to be, there are a few things that continue to take me to a temporary world of laughter and joy — enough to make me realize that in life, there is always hope.

This post is an homage to the things that make me laugh out loud and take my mind off all my worries… and an homage to the creators of these wonderful shows who bring entertainment and lightness into many homes.

1. Pscyh

Created by Steve Franks, appearing on the USA Network. It’s a criminal investigative show with a different twist – for at the core of the show are 2 friends who are the “Head Psychics” of the Santa Barbara Police Department. Light, funny, witty and laugh out loud. Close to (but not exactly) slapstick — the screenplay is brilliant.

Watch as these 2 childhood friends “work” with the stiff, upper-lip type Head Detective (Lassiter) and the hot detective chick (O’Hara) to solve crimes that take place in Santa Barbara – and see how detective work takes a different spin from the eyes of an ultra-observant guy posed as a “psychic”.

This “psychic”‘s dad is also  kinda funny, by the way.

When you watch an episode, wait til the end credits for the “Psych Out Moments” that are the perfect punctuation to an hour of silly but worth-it entertainment.

2. Big Bang Theory

Four geeks, a hot chick and awesomely geeky dialog — and four seasons later, you still can’t get enough. I would say that this show truly made geeks cool – for the first time ever. Suddenly, dressing up as the doppler effect and attending Renaissance Fairs in full medieval gear isn’t a loser’s style anymore — but a cool geek’s mark.

Knowing who Spock is; memorizing all the thousands of comic book titles and editions; and having a weekly routine of dinner fare is actually kinda fun.

And the beauty and the geek isn’t a far cry from reality anymore – cause truly, the nice geeks get the hot chick. Well, sometimes.

3. How I Met Your Mother

A love story in reverse; a playboy chauvinist who created the “Bro Code”; a truly lovable couple named Marshall and Lily; a Canadian teen pop star turned news anchorwoman; and a pitifully romantic idealist searching for his one and only “true love” — these are just some of the things that make this show what it is. Charming, endearing and almost addictive.

Lighthearted comedy that also strikes a chord in the heart of a romantic and hopeful – that really, no matter how bad things may get, there’s something great at the end of the road.

4. Glee!

Well, duh… after all my raves about this show, it cannot not have its own number on this list.

Hate her all you want, but I will always loooove Rachel. Aside from an amazing voice, she’s the one who makes this show different from all the other shows about teenagers that have the usual slew of mean cheerleaders, dumb arrogant jocks and loser geeks. Without Rachel (and okay, to be fair, all the other stereotypes that the show has broken – like the head cheerleader getting knocked up; the football team captain being dumped gallons of slushies…you get the drift), this show could have had all the possible markings of just another TV show about angsty teenagers who are obsessed with sex. Oh, and they sing and dance.

High School Musical, this ain’t.

Aside from the ear-friendly music that the show has generated… the fun, evocative and truly youthful dialogue… this is one show I always count on to take me away from real life blues to give me a couple of minutes of fun and pure enjoyment.

5. 30 Rock

Liz Lemon, Jack Donaghy and Tracy Jordan make me laugh til my sides ache. Maybe because in some weird way, the show’s premise is a little close to what I do on a day to day basis.

Meeting deadlines everyday for scripts, print ads, television storyboards… battling it out with producers (or in our case, clients)… dealing with difficult diva talents and celebrities… and all the ins and outs and dynamics of people who work together and in close proximity every single day.

They say that laughter is always the best medicine, and I would tend to agree. And I would thank the geniuses behind shows such as these above for giving normal, everyday people like us reasons to remember that life is just life… with ups and downs… and through every down, there’s an up just waiting to happen.

So never lose hope, whoever you are.

If you’re feeling down in the dumps, sad, depressed, helpless, in pain or simply tired — pop in 30 minutes or an hour of fun and laughter to temporarily take away those blues. And these shows up here – they’re my reco. If you have your own list, then by all means, pop that in and laugh away!

Gleek!

Yes, I admit it.

Over the holidays, I have become a certified GLEEK.

It started with just a few glimpses of the show on JackTV. The episode I watched fully was the “Jump” episode with the dozen of mattresses as pay-off for doing a free commercial for mattresses. (See, that wasn’t a spoiler, was it?)

Anyhow, within the realm of a world riddled with problems and dilemmas, this has become my moment of escape. So easy to escape from the real world when you can escape for 45 minutes into the  cheap thrill that is beholding the wonders of a dozen teenagers singing and dancing to excellent choreography; with the adolescent problems of high school kids in an era filled with ambiguities, to boot.

Besides, I like music. And I love watching people dance. (I don’t dance myself, you see.)  Of course, my husband snickers in our living room while I shut the door to the bedroom and put the TV volume close to maximum when I indulge in continuous episodes of GLEE. But heck, it’s my cheap thrill.

For good, light entertainment at the end of a long, tiring day – I highly recommend an episode of GLEE to lift the spirits. Enjoy!