Here's Lea Michele talking about her audition for the part of Rachel in Glee.
At the risk of aspiring to a philosophical level I'm sure the producers of Glee would delight in making fun of, I think I may have put my finger on a reason Glee is so addictive for me.
In the pilot, Will looks at a picture of the old Glee Club sponsor, a deceased, matronly lady who is quoted as saying, "By its very definition, Glee is about opening yourself up to joy." I think this comment goes to the heart of the show. With all the pain that the teen years bring, and the disappointments of the adult failure to live up to one's own expectations, Glee Club is a place where everyone can experience true joy. Music and dance are transcendent, and joyful.
I got thinking about this when I started reflecting on the Rachel character, and especially when I saw Lea Michele's interview about her audition tape. All the Glee characters are so different. Rachel is virtually humorless in the way I usually think about humor. My sense of humor is generally tangential, often sarcastic, sometimes mildly barbed. There's not a hint of that in Rachel. She's brutally direct and not sarcastic at all. Quinn is 90% sarcasm, she's hypocritical and manipulative, and deceptive, though she's showing signs she hates that about herself. Will hates the mundane-ness of his adult life, and the joylessness his wife has fallen into. Kurt wrestles with the stigma of his sexuality. Finn is a simple guy who's traveled a pretty narrow road of popularity and living according to social expectations.
What they have very much in common is the joy that Glee's communal experience brings to them. When they're singing and dancing, all the differences melt away. Sue sees that when she stands on the balcony in the auditorium watching the Glee kids on stage near the end of the first episode. You see it in her eyes (Jane Lynch is brilliantly expressive) - she knows that the joy these kids are feeling threatens her perfectly selfish little Cheerio world. Sue the antagonist is the perfect antidote for joy. Her Cheerios are winners, but they're like Dakota Stanley's Vocal Adrenaline group - mechanical and joyless. Terri is Will's joyless wife, probably the victim of a Sue Sylvester clone from her own high school days.
At one point, Will promises Rachel that he will always try to make Glee fun for her. Although he stumbles pretty hard in the attempt sometimes, his intent is much like that of Glee the TV show - to have fun and be joyful.
Too deep? It is Sunday. God's asleep and I had too much time on my hands.