Wednesday, November 3, 2010

5 Questions with Leah Wilson, editor, Filled With Glee

Why has this show caught on so well with North Americans?

That’s a hard question to answer, I think, because Glee gives viewers a lot to like—there’s something for almost everybody. It taps into the same love of watching talented people perform that made American Idol so popular. It’s full of sharp, funny one-liners and over-the-top characters—but at the same time it’s very earnest, almost painfully sincere, and manages to keep its characters so relatable that they can bring us to tears. There’s something to love in every single episode, whether it’s a piece of clever choreography, an off-hand observation from Brittany, or a meaningful lesson about inclusiveness.

It’s hard to not like Glee. Even people who criticize the show still seem charmed, almost despite themselves. The show’s energy, and its attitude, is just infectious.

Why should Glee fans check out this book?

Because reading this book will make Glee better—or at least, it will make you appreciate Glee even more. Filled With Glee is like a companion guide on steroids: It includes the usual episode guide, with detailed song lists and trivia and biographies. But it also gives you a dozen very smart, very funny people sharing their thoughts on Glee. Working on this book has changed the way I watch the show, and for the better.

Are glee clubs getting more popular now because of the program?

I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer this question, but my guess is that the answer is yes. One of our contributors, Jamie Chambers, wrote a piece for the book with tips for starting a glee club in your high school or community . . . and ended up forming his own group as a result.

Thanks to Glee, glee clubs have definitely been given a reputation upgrade. The characters in Glee may be at the bottom of the high school hierarchy, but the show itself is at the top of the television heap.

Which episode was the most exciting to watch for you?

It’s hard to pick an episode, actually—but I can certainly pick moments (and unsurprisingly, most of those moments are songs). Artie’s “Safety Dance”; more recently, “The Time Warp” (how amazing was Chris Colfer’s Riff Raff?). “Don’t Stop Believin’” from the pilot still makes my heart clench every time. Actually, if I had to pick, I might just pick the pilot. It was so sharp, and so funny, and so fresh, that it’s hard for anything that followed to really match its impact.

What was your favorite chapter of the book?

Let me dodge this question the same way I tried to do the last question: I can’t pick a favorite essay, but I can give you some of my favorite parts of essays. I love Claudia Gray’s insightful encapsulation of Glee’s storytelling style (“the show often takes a story, pushes it past humor to a place that’s borderline uncomfortable, and then finds its way to a graceful, meaningful conclusion”). I love Jennifer Crusie’s description of Sue as “the salt in Glee’s chocolate soufflĂ©.” I love the way Jonna Rubin takes Will to task (and her horror at his weakness for old-school hip-hop). I love that A.M. Dellamonica calls Finn and Puck frenemies, and I love the way Gregory Stevenson treats glee club as a character in its own right.

I also love every single one of our “Share Your Glee” stories: the winning submissions from Glee fans about how the show has affected them. Because that’s the best thing about Glee, and the thing that I think Filled With Glee shows more than anything else: how the show has touched its viewers’ lives.

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