I practically assaulted Ryan Murphy the other night.
Not in a bad way -- though he might have thought so. But I did pretty much hit him over the head and punch him in the stomach with effusive praise and adoration. And I'm not even a Gleek. No, my sycophantishness (sic) wasn't because of the show per se, but because of what the show's done. In my opinion, Glee's one of the most culturally important TV shows -- ever. And ever is a long time.
Why so much love for a show I don't really watch? Because Ryan's used the show and his platform as a creator to change the world. Hyperbole? Nope. He's saved lives and made lives better. He's given kids (and people) of all shapes, sizes, colors, persuasions, orientations, abilities and disabilities, the permission, and at least some measure of comfort, to be themselves, to withstand peer pressure, and to break-free of Breakfast Club stereotypes. And with a catchy set of song and dance numbers to boot.
Glee serves up lessons in 21st century life with a spoonful of sugar. It mixes compassion and passion, tolerance and intolerance, race, sex, sexuality, growing up, growing older, the want for attention, the need for attention, the breadth and depth of the experience of being a kid (if not a person), pretty brilliantly.
Ryan (we're not really on a first name basis, but I think he'll indulge me) isn't the first to do this, he's just among the most current. Television history is filled with programming from Sesame Street, Mary Tyler Moore to All in the Family, Ellen and Roseanne, Beverly Hills 90210 (the original, btw) to The Real World and Will and Grace to DeGrassi that have made us stop, think, consider, and reconsider.
These are shows that have fed us another way of looking at things, at people, at situations, circumstances, and the world around us. These are shows and creators that whether for conscience or commerce or some combination of the two, have embraced their opportunity to forward a point of view, not just a laugh track.
But today, Ryan Murphy and Glee are giving a lot of people something to sing and dance about -- not just to. They're a welcome antidote and alternative to the problem of sameness and talent auditions that seem to be on every channel, all the time. He's using the power of his platform to forward an opinion and change the world. He's saved lives and made lives better by opening up the paradigm of what we see on our TV screens. That's almost as cool as American Horror Story.
It's show time in the American cultural landscape. Every day, new data supports the cause and effect relationship between what we see (and don't) and how we feel (and don't). So, from where I sit on the couch, I say thanks for giving to Ryan and everybody else involved in bringing the world a show like this. The world, or at least our little corner of it, is a better place as a result.
This Thanksgiving, and every day, we say let your Gleek-flag fly, even if it's not very Gleeky at all.