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Glee takes Ugly Betty's place as network TV's hip, gay-friendly comedy



Glee2 For a TV critic, there are few things more satisfying than seeing a creative, forward-looking show blossom into a massive hit.

Which is why you're wading through so many worshipful stories in media about the return Tuesday of Fox's Glee.

Built around the cheeky idea of using the struggles of the world's most dysfunctional high school glee club to tell stories of popularity, insecurity and the triumph of the underdog, Glee has managed to bring the world of the musical to network television -- in a youth-friendly package, no less.

And all the awards, accolades and pop culture buzz reminds me of the fuss over another show just four years ago: ABC's fashion-centered dramedy, Ugly Betty.

Ugly-betty2 In one of those coincidences we TV critics love to ponder, Glee returns for its highly anticipated, "back nine" episodes Tuesday one day before Ugly Betty airs its series finale.

And as the two shows cross paths, it feels as if a baton is passing -- with one buzzed-about, gay friendly network TV hit taking the place of another; pushing the boundaries of gay images on television in the process.

I wrote a column about this for Sunday's Floridian outlining how Ugly Betty blazed a trail that Glee has blown wide open. And there are so many shows featuring wonderful images of gay characters -- from the gay parents on ABC's new comedy hit Modern Family to the duplicitous FBI agent on ABC's FlashForward -- that Betty's passing won't even cut down on the great gay characters now filling network TV.

So far, Glee has kept up the quality, with an episode Tuesday focused on songs featuring the word hello and an amazing April 20 epsidoe on Madonna, featuring Jane Lynch's amazing villain Sue Sylvester as the Material Girl herself in a Glee-centered remake of the Vogue video

And to keep you interested, here's 5 things you didn’t know about Glee:

Glee 1) According to star Chris Colfer (Kurt Hummel), Sandra Bullock made husband Jesse James watch the Glee episode featuring the football team dancing to Beyonce’s Single Ladies. The beginning of the end?

2) Mark Salling, who plays macho football star Noah “Puck” Puckerman is only four years younger than Matthew Morrison, 31, who plays glee club teacher Will Schuester.

3) Co-creator Ryan Murphy came up with the storyline about Mr. Schuester’s wife having a hysterical pregnancy because his mother had one when he was a child.

4) Murphy originally wanted to feature Jennifer Lopez on the show as a lunch lady who gets a makeover from Kurt into a Susan Boyle-style come from nowhere singing star.

5) Murphy wrote a part for Olivia Newton John because both he and star Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester) were obsessed with her as kids.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:07pm]


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