First, in the introductory three paragraphs, Clark gives us the lowdown on Glee even as he explains why he is a fan.
Next, he discusses why Glee works so well, listing four points:
- The power of mixing
- Diversity of cultural expression
- Depth of characters
- Expect the unexpected
Shakespeare was harshly criticized in the 18th century for his violations of the classical unities of time, place and action. Unity of action, for example, would never have permitted the comic Porter to play the bawdy fool immediately after the assassination of the king in "Macbeth." The Bard's ability to mix theatrical modes is one hallmark of Shakespeare's greatness. In the same spirit, the creator of "Glee" teaches us the power of mode mixing.
Murphy has done something with "Glee" that may be unprecedented in the history of television: blending the best aspects of comedy, drama and musical expression without making the audience experience the show as a cacophony.
Clark also gives us the comparable examples of I Love Lucy, M*A*S*H, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Then, in "Diversity of cultural expression", we read about the many different characters in the show. As we read on we understand why the story works. And if you have watched the show, as I have, you will experience an epiphany, as I did, when you read that last sentence:
Authentic diversity can never be expressed through tokenism. The stereotypes in the show, out of context, would constitute, at best, a guilty pleasure for the audience. What makes "Glee" work is that no single character bears the burden of representing a whole group.
Next, Clark tackles "Depth of characters". There's so much thought that has gone into the writing here, as Clark continues to expound on Murphy's magic:
Every significant character has something at stake, some defining issue that gives the writers an opportunity to explore character. Artie (Kevin McHale) dreams of dancing, but is in a wheelchair. Quinn (Dianna Agron) is president of the Christian crusaders for chastity, but, of course, winds up pregnant.
Kurt worries that his father cannot love him completely because he likes show tunes and interior decoration and not football. Rachel (Lea Michele) has a world of talent and an unquenchable need for stardom, but an empty place in her heart caused by a mother she has never known.
Each time you think you understand a character fully, the writers throw you a curve.
Clark then sums up his exposition by outlining the seven lessons to be drawn from Glee for writers. And because he talked about Shakespeare earlier, Clark ends his column by giving us his theory on the link between Lady Macbeth and Sue Sylvester, the coach in Glee.
Read Roy Peter Clark's article in its entirety here: "What writers can learn from 'Glee' ".
Isn't it amazing how watching a TV show can result in such an explosion of ideas?
- If you want further proof of Clark's greatness as a writer and journalist, you must read "Three Little Words", his touching story about a journey of trust, betrayal, and redemption. Make time to read it. You will marvel at the writing style — this is what journalism is about.
From: Roy Peter Clark <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, Jun 15, 2013 at 12:13 AM
To: Ramesh Prabhu <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Vice President and Senior Scholar
The Poynter Institute
801 Third Street South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
"The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Mystery and Magic of Practical English"
"Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer."
- Both the books mentioned above are available in the Commits library.