Millennial Musicals

This week we watched two episodes of Glee followed by an episode of Flight of the Conchords. Both shows heavily incorporate music into their plots, but they do so in different ways and each show’s musical element serves a different purpose. In Glee, music is the driving force through which the show approaches many of the social and moral issues that they attempt to resolve. In this way, Glee has been seen by many as a very progressive show in which important but sensitive issues, such as racism, sexism and homosexuality, are addressed through mainstream media. The cast of the show seems very diverse, and these characteristics have led some to see the show as very liberal. However, in the articles we read concerning Glee this week, the authors questioned the supposed liberal nature of the show. Doty points out that the minorities, while they are included in the glee club, “were consistently used to create a colorfully diverse narrative and musical background for the straight, white, able-bodied characters” in the first season. They served as the medium to address certain issues and they were given the occasional solo, but the attractive, white actors were still the leads of the show. Hilderbrand argues, “I was struck during the pilot that, among the conspicuously diverse cast of characters, only the white characters are fleshed out as characters or get to sing the solos. The rest of the cast seemed like set dressing.” Similarly to Doty, he notes that the minorities were background characters for the majority of the show. He also states that while the marginalized characters do sometimes have their moment to shine (during which their is always an issue that must be addressed and resolved), the “reductive equivalences between different kinds of marginalized experiences flattens out the complexity of difference.” Often, the marginalized characters can unite through their struggles, but by doing this, the fundamental and important differences that underlay their hardships can be lost. Nevertheless, Glee maintains a steadfast audience who cannot get enough of its eclectic choice of music.

I have never seen an episode of Flight of the Conchords before last night, but I thought it was pretty funny. I am still unsure whether I would consider it a millennial show, but they do sing, so it was a fitting choice for the week covering millennial musicals. In the show, the two main characters break spontaneously into song, showing that the lyrics of their band’s songs come from real life experiences. Their music is original, unlike Glee, and it fits directly into the narrative of the show. In Glee, each song is performed, while in Flight, the songs could be interpreted as lyrics or just lines from the script.

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One response to “Millennial Musicals

  1. I totally agree with your last line, and I really like the phrasing of it. Everything about Glee feels performative, whereas flight of the conchords seems a little more genuine with regard to the nature of the songs, and their inspiration.

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