Monday, June 13, 2011

More Glee than Glee

The Glee Project:

A show that exists to stoke Ryan Murphy's ego by allowing him to personally crush the dreams of young people.

As you know, I don't watch Glee anymore. I loved the first season. Then it became a giant commercial. Diana has also lost her love affair with Glee.

But we stumbled across The Glee Project yesterday. It's a reality show where 12 young people get to compete for the opportunity to have a 7 episode story arc as a character on Glee.

I've watched my fair share of elimination-based reality programming. This one appears to be trying to be America's Next Top Glee Cast-Member. When casting director Robert Urlich walked into the "dorm" to deliver their first challenge, I expected everyone to squeal and yell "Ryan Mail!!!". On the other-hand, having the show's actual casting director running the show adds an interesting element because he's essentially just doing his regular job, only on camera and with a more elaborate ridiculous procedure. The contestants will be working with him and the show's actual vocal coach Nikki Anders and actual choreographer Zach Woodlee. The downside is that none of these people are particularly good on camera. If they were, they wouldn't be casting directors, vocal coaches, or choreographers.

To cut them some slack, I'm not sure anyone would look good on camera in the Blair-Witch style extreme close-up camera shot they're using for the confessionals. I seriously had to turn away every time they popped up because they were so distracting and because everyone's eyes looked so possessed I was worried they might crawl out of the TV and melt my face off.

The contestants themselves are an interestingly diverse bunch. None of them probably would have gotten very far through traditional casting avenues, but all of them could easily move on to bigger and better things whether they win or not. Which is one of the more ridiculous problems with the show. If Ryan Murphy wants to, he can cast any or all of them in Glee. There's no reason he has to just choose one, except that the show needs a "winner".

The only "ringer" in the group is Damian, the handsome Irish boy. As soon as he came on screen Diana said "I bet he was in "Celtic Thunder". If you've never channel surfed past Celtic Thunder on PBS, you're missing out on a group of wholesome Irish lads singing old rock n' roll standards and inspiring Celtic folk music in front of packed audiences of wholesome middle-aged parents and the teenaged daughters they've dragged with them. If there was a stereotypical Celtic Thunder "look" it was this kid.

Then moments later he confessed that he was in Celtic Thunder! In fact, he's still on their website and is something of a teen idol in Ireland. Yet, that couldn't save him from being in the bottom three.

Let me explain. The show, rather refreshingly, doesn't have a "winner" each week. Instead, the bottom three as chosen by the judges have 2 hours to learn a song for a "last chance performance" for Ryan Murphy. They must SING FOR THEIR LIVES. Damian couldn't shed his Celtic Thunder persona and was a fish out of water in the Katy Perry Fireworks video they had to make. He was tasked with singing Rick Springfield's Jessie's Girl, which apparently never made it on to the Celtic Thunder playlist as he'd never heard of the song. The only thing that probably saved him from elimination was the fact that he flubbed the line and instead of singing "I wish that I had Jessie's Girl" he sang "I wish that I was Jessie's Girl", which Ryan Murphy found amusing.

Ryan Murphy seems to be just as big of an arrogant prick as you'd imagine. The fact that his primary contact with the contestants is going to be when he's choosing which one to eliminate tells me that he's more interested in being mean than being helpful.

The other contestants up for elimination were Bryce, the swarthy "difficult one" and Ellis who seriously looks like she's 12. I mean, seriously looks like she's 12. Fortunately she's the only person who managed to use the correct adverb form of "bad" when she said "I want this so badly" instead of "I want this so bad" as every other contestant said.

For the eliminations, casting director Robert posts the "call back" list in the music room. The bottom three take turns going in to look at it, but rather than having the eliminated one simply missing form the list, there's a separate section titled "Not Called Back" with their name written in. I wanted football players in lettermen jackets to come out and slushie them for the full-on Glee experience, but alas that did not happen. Instead, Bryce was just mobbed by the rest of the cast with hugs. They edited it to look like he went home for being "difficult" to work with, but it didn't help that his singing was consistently flat. Although, I think, to be fair, they should run them all through auto-tune.

Will The Glee Project become a regular part of my Sunday night? Time will tell. One thing's for certain though: it's a helluva lot more entertaining than Glee.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.