Showing remarkably odd timing, The Glee Project debuted last night against the Tony Awards. And while I realize that only about 500 people total watch the Tony Awards and half of them only did because they don't understand the sport of basketball, the Tonys are a pretty big musical theater event. It seems silly that a show that is casting for a series that celebrates musical theater, would debut against it. Then again, I doubt that teenagers are going to care to watch Sutton Foster tap dancing around in a sailor suit, so maybe Oxygen was on to something.
Each week on the Project, wannabes will compete in a singing challenge, where they each get a couple of lines to do their runs or whatever, and then the winner gets an advantage in the main challenge, in which they make a music video inspired by Glee. They'll work with mentors/judges Robert J. Ulrich (Glee's casting director), Nikki Anders (Glee's vocal arranger) and Zach Woodlee (Glee's choreographer). And each week, someone from the show will drop by (in the premiere, it was Darren Criss) to help the winner of the first challenge. The three worst people from the music video have to do solos (the songs are assigned by the judges) and then Ryan Murphy comes in and helps decide who should get cut.
The problem is that while Grease: You're the One That I Want and all of the other superior BBC shows that cast for Andrew Lloyd Webber productions had a specific role (or roles) in mind, here they are just taking personalities and then creating a role based on them. So there's really no acting involved - it's just kids (I use that term loosely, since they're all 18-plus) showing off their singing and dancing ability and being as quirky as humanly possible in order to stand out in the crowd. And this exhibition of "personality" gets old very, very quickly, particularly with Emily, who thinks that flipping her hair is a unique trait (her actual words) and that flirting with Criss is an effective tool to get cast on Glee.
But while Emily is the worst in my opinion, she's far from the only grating wannabe. In fact, while there were a few tolerable folks, I'm not sure I've ever disliked a group of contestants from the beginning of a reality TV show's season as much as these kids. I seriously feel for the cameramen on this show who are forced to film the antics of these self-involved types who are like the worst of Rachel Berry without the actual talent. Can you imagine being around people who not only think they're amazing (even when they aren't) but who also think that being obnoxious will get them noticed more, leading them to emphasize their most annoying character traits? Actually, we don't need to imagine it --- we can watch it.
Here's a quick rundown of the contestants:
Alex: Mercedes in a boy's body (he even kind of has her voice).
Bryce: Pretty, but too cocky for his own good and got eliminated for showing a bad attitude to the wrong people.
Cameron: Claims to be a nerd; working that hipster vibe.
Damian: An Irish kid who thinks he could be a soap star. He made Ryan Murphy think that he'd like to do a Riverdance episode, and I honestly don't think Murphy was kidding, so now we have that to look forward to.
Ellis: Claims to hate that everyone thinks she looks like a little kid, but then talks in a baby voice and pouts like an infant when doesn't get her way.
Emily: The aforementioned sexpot.
Hannah: A flame-haired, plus-sized girl whom we learn hardly anything about, except that some of the other contestants think she's not as talented as they are.
Lindsay: She's got a lovely voice and reminds me of Elizabeth Reaser... which causes me some personal pain, but only because I had to recap The Ex-List and I still haven't gotten over it.
Marissa: An attractive young lady but exceedingly boring.
Matheus: A short guy who won the first challenge and is possibly talented, but I don't particularly care for his voice.
McKynleigh: A country singer (which is normally not my thing) who has an amazing smile and doesn't seem that obnoxious or self-involved.
Samuel: Looks like Jason Castro's long lost brother. Was basically homeless and performing as a street musician before he got cast on this reality show. (Wait a minute... has anyone seen Jason Castro lately?)
There's a part of me that is fascinated by the behind-the-scenes aspects of making a hit show, and that same part is glad that this show doesn't involve America voting because obnoxious but pretty Bryce would have survived much longer if that was the case. But there's also very little to root for here. And since all of the wannabes talk about how hard it was to survive high school and how they want to show the world it's okay to be different, while Murphy and his writing staff are going to be tasked to work the winning personality into the show, I feel it opens Glee up to a lot of "very special episodes," which is the very last thing it needs.
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