The Glee Project Review: Misfits? Please..

THE GLEE PROJECT: Wednesday 13th July, SKY1, 9pm

With the third series of Glee set to air in the States later this year and a 3D film also in cinemas next month, it appears that Gleeks around the world have not lost their appetite for the musical teen drama. But with some of the characters in the current class set to graduate soon – and others looking suspiciously like they’re nearing their 30’s – the writers have decided that fresh talent is needed to beef up the choir of high school outcasts.

Previously, executives for the show spent three months trawling Broadway on the lookout for actors that would fit the bill, but this time around they have tried a different tactic in their search for the next, ahem, star – one that involves the fans, but more importantly, has the potential to generate millions in advertising revenues. In a show that’s a curious cross between US X Factor and X-Men, the next Glee recruit will be chosen from 12 lucky hopefuls, each making the the final showdown after beating over 40,000 supposed misfits.

A pre-series episode (or ‘Casting Special’ as Sky1 have dubbed it) shows this initial process, with Glee interns trawling through 34,000 MySpace videos and over 6,000 live auditions to seperate the wheat from the chaff, or more precisely the nutters from the sane people. Throughout the whole show, we’re shown interviews with people to whom Glee means so much to because they say they can relate to the characters. This leads to an interesting mix of auditions, some of which wouldn’t just give Simon Cowell a nightmare, but a full mental breakdown.

Yet what’s sad about The Glee Project is that at the end of this audition process we’re left with 12 rather clean-cut TV-ready American kids. Yes, a couple of them have some quirks, one has uncontrollable ginger hair and there’s even a token Irishman. But where is the child with Down’s Syndrome? The girl who auditioned with one arm? The dwarf? The kid sporting an unbelievably large collection of glasses with no lenses and a severe lack of fashion sense?

I understand why the judge’s picked these people to get to the final stages, but it just seems frankly patronisingly that throughout the whole programme they bang on about celebrating the underdog and ‘glorying individuality’, then just choose 12 people who fit the mould of what works on American TV. It’s like Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model bringing in the fatties, building up their hopes by sending them to the next round, making a fool out of them by getting them to do an ice-cream advert, before kicking them out and choosing the thin girls. At least they’re honest from the outset on that programme.

Regardless of these annoyances, overall the show is an entertaining romp, despite viewers being treated repeatedly to ear-shatteringly high decibel voices and endless versions of ‘Hit Me Bay One More Time’. Mute button at the ready.

It’s also quite amazing to see the passion and near obsession that some people have for the show, with one girl mysteriously chopping off a finger to get to the auditions (?!) and another comparing one of the backstage staff to Elton John and Jesus Christ – I wonder if Reginald Kenneth Dwight realises he may be the second coming.

Anyways, Gleeks, get ready to fall in love all over again, but make sure you take out a SKY subscription as The Glee Project and upcoming third series of Glee are both being shown exclusively on Murdoch-vision. And if you hate spoilers here’s a tip – don’t read Wikipedia. The show is being aired a few weeks ahead in the States and you’ll know who has already got the boot!