Clare’s Story-Why I Became A Gleek

Gleek-Out1
Photo: FOX

I need to confess something. Something that will no doubt shock many of you who know me or have read a number of my stories. I spent the first season of Glee actively trying to avoid it. Yes I know, hard to believe now but I didn’t actually watch a single episode of Glee until the season two premiere, “Audition” screened on E4 in the UK, which was sometime in May 2011 if I remember correctly. Given how much of a Gleek I am now as well as my background, the fact that I’d fall in love with this show was really a forgone conclusion, so why did I resist for so long? I mean this show about underdogs who sing and dance their way through high school many with big Broadway dreams was basically my theme show.

Another thing you should know about me is that I’m a bit of an attention whore. Not as much now as I was when I was younger when I certainly could have given Rachel Berry a run for her money, I just lacked her singing ability. I grew up surrounded with musicals. I would watch The Sound of Music almost weekly and my grandparents videos of anything Shirley Temple, Annie and The Wizard of Oz all had their tape worn thin. I was the kid that had friends over and we’d spend our time choreographing dances, I have endless notebooks of unfinished plays and musicals I had written all with me as the lead of course (the one about the Trojan War was particularly good though in that one I just had to play Athena as she was my favourite Greek God). Add to this that when I was growing up, we had a little weekly TV show in Australia called Young Talent Time (Tina Arena and Dannii Minogue among others got their start here). YTT was like our version of the Mickey Mouse Club and at 7 or 8 years old it was my ultimate dream to be on it much to the chagrin of my poor suffering family, all of who at every family occasion (which was basically monthly given how big my family is and there was always a birthday or Easter or Christmas or Mother’s Day etc) had to sit through a musical concert devised by myself and my cousins and yes of course I was front and centre. Alas I inherited my mother’s singing ability (ie I’m tone deaf as my voice teacher at acting school so nicely informed me, thanks Lance) so those dreams went unrealised. With all of this in my DNA, it was inevitable that I’d be seduced by the show. In fact, I’m quite impressed that I was able to hold out for 22 episodes.

This gets me back to why I resisted for so long… I didn’t want to succumb to the hype. During season 1 I flittered between living in London and then moving back to Sydney. Because it was screened in the UK on E4 for the first two seasons, it was delayed screening there so when I moved back home Glee fever had already hit (Aussies are actually pretty savvy in latching on to the next big thing). I actually remember visiting a cousin in Melbourne when down there for a conference and the Madonna episode had just screened and that was all anyone was talking about. It seemed everywhere I went, Glee was brought up and it just annoyed me so much that you couldn’t have a conversation without it turning to Glee that I was determined to avoid it. That should have been my final clue that I’d cave as it was a similar story with Shakespeare, The X-Files and The West Wing.

I was living in Essex, UK doing my Masters and had just flown back from my sister’s wedding in Sydney. I had gone down to the local chippy to grab some dinner and while waiting for it to be made, a Glee special was being shown on the TV there. I was attracted to the music and the dance routines and so looked to see what they were talking about and found out it was Glee. Since my TV was basically always on E4 I caught “Audition”. Being that I was in the final few months of my Masters, I had it playing in the background as I did readings and background research for my dissertation. I paid attention to the musical numbers (what had initially attracted me to the show) but found the storylines  not that compelling, though I was riveted with “Grilled Cheesus”. However, that all changed with the entrance of one single character, the uttering of a few simple lines and a catchy acapella version of Katy Perry. It was Harry Potter. The rest is history. I was in, hook, line and sinker. I ordered the season 1 DVD boxset that week and have never looked back.

Once I looked past the amazing musical numbers and paid attention to the characters I fell in love with them all and though it was Darren Criss’ Blaine that first made me pay attention to the show, it was Chris Colfer’s Kurt that has had an impact on me. It was, and continues to be, his growth and development that brings me back week after week. How he went from this closeted background/filler character in the first few episodes who in the first few seasons dreamed so big but always seemed to just miss out, to the confident, snarky, fabulous diva we all love who has got the guy, got his dream city, got the internship and finally gotten the step up towards his dreams.

It was Kurt that I connected with and could relate to on so many levels. And though I am long out of uni, it is Kurt whose achievements and triumphs still gives me hope that my dreams can also eventually come true. That, I think, is why people keep tuning in week after week. Though Gleeks may bitch and moan about character development, or lack thereof, iffy continuity and storylines that we invest in only to be dropped suddenly, there’s a character or aspect of a character that just resonates with us. That we feel affinity with and that, above all, is why I became a Gleek.

 

Clare Sidoti
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