I have two TVs, circa long-before-cell-phones. I gave up cable a while back because I wasn’t watching it. After “West Wing” went off the air, what was the point?
But one evening a couple of months ago, I wandered over to my local video store. Searching through the shelves in search of something new yet familiar, I found my hand reaching for Season 1, Disc 1 of a popular little show I’d been curious about.
Hi, my name is Mindy, and I’m a Gleek.
“Glee” and I have a lot in common. I grew up about 50 minutes down I-75 from Lima, Ohio, where the show is set. I took piano lessons with someone from Lima. Piano was a pretty major deal for me for a lot of years, and when I reached high school, it led me to join the choir.
My voice isn’t great, but it was good enough. I was in Swing Choir, too, although it was nothing like “Glee’s” New Directions. Choir led me to school musicals, where I spent a lot of time in the chorus.
My first roommate at Indiana University was a voice major from California who owned the original cast recording of “A Chorus Line.” Just a few years later, “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy would come to Bloomington, too, writing for the student newspaper and performing in the show choir.
But it’s not the common ground that has made me a fan. It’s not the show’s endearing, over-the-top goofiness, its enchanting group of misfit characters or its incredibly talented and photogenic cast. It’s not even the songs, although I just watched Idina Menzel and Lea Michele singing a version of “I Dreamed a Dream” that makes Susan Boyle sound like a little girl.
I listen to the soaring high notes and the harmony, the pounding beat or a slow crescendo, and I can feel the vibration of the music as though it were leaping out of my chest, sound exploding out of a human body and hitting its mark, the astonishing clarity of a collection of disparate voices making one joyful noise. It’s the same soul-searing high I get when I sit in a darkened auditorium, watch the stage lights come up and hear the first notes of the orchestra swell. I have never felt anything else remotely like it.
If I had the talent, it might be me up on that screen singing with Rachel. But if I have to live my dream vicariously, “Glee” is a pretty damned good place to be.