Sunday, January 1, 2012


Sometimes you come across a T.V. show that really grabs your attention. It makes you think, feel, laugh, care about the characters. But so often these great shows don't get the chance they deserve. For one reason or another they get cancelled after just one or if they're lucky, two seasons. A lot of these programs have the potential to become, or already are, something really special and exciting. The T.V. world today is impatient and wants an instant smash-hit. There's no time to let an audience build or pride in producing creative, left-field entertainment that, if given a chance, could acquire a cult-status with a steady following of loyal fans.
I watch Lucifers dreambox quite a lot, but instead of feeling like I was numbing my brain with mindless garbage, some of these shows gave me a real sense of enjoyment. Over the next few weeks in "Axe-wielding Maniacs" I'll be talking about some of my favorite prematurely cancelled shows, starting of with Glee's predecessor, Popular.

Popular: Created by Gina Matthews and Glee's co-creator Ryan Murphy, Popular focuses on life in high-school. The two main characters, Brooke and Sam, are from different "groups". Brooke is popular, the schools sweetheart and prom-queen, while Sam, an aspiring journalist, tries her hardest to be different. When their single parents fall in love and get married, they are forced to live under the same roof and end up growing close and even become good friends. The other members of their stereotypical cliques also start of as polar opposites. Brooke, head-cheerleader of the Glamazons, is joined by bitchy, manipulative Nicole who aids Brooke in her popularity, while also being massively jealous, the Southern Mary Cherry, slightly unhinged daughter of a rich business woman who can get anything done with her money and the hair-twirling Latina Poppy Fresh. On the other side of the divide are Harrison John, he used to be friends with Brooke and still has a crush on her, but is now Sams partner in crime, Carmen Ferrara, who wants nothing more than to be popular and even ends up joining the Glamazons, despite her friends' dissaproval, and animal rights activist Lilly Esposito, who rejects the idea that popularity should be the main goal in life.

 You can tell Popular was co-created by the same person involved in Glee. It tackles very similar issues such as the desperate wish for peer approval and also the fall of a prom-queens status, issues with being gay and being accepted for who you are, striving for your own goals no matter what. It even has a near identical story-arc involving three almost indistinguishable characters. Brooke McQueen/Quinn Fabray, the blond prom queen and captain of the cheer-leading team who used to have eating-issues, used to date the schools popular, but friendly quarterback Josh Ford/Finn Hudson. Josh Ford/Finn Hudson tires of his girlfriends need to be the best and falls in love with the outsider Carmen Ferrara/Rachel Berry, a very talented girl but not without her own body hang-ups and insecurities, thinking that her boyfriend still prefers his more "beautiful" ex over them.

But while Glee seems very much stuck in a push-and-pull of a parody and not offending it's millions of fans who seem to actually want the thing they started out making fun of, Popular became more and more a commentary on the ridiculous image those teenage drama/comedy shows portray of life in high-school. It shows the harshness of being a teenager by overemphasizing the silly problems they come across in the usual programs aimed at teens with their cartoonish characters and ridiculous plotlines offset by some real painful situations and more realistic insecurities.

I enjoy watching Glee, but after having known Popular first, I can't help but wish they'd given that the time and effort that has gone into promoting it's musical successor, just to see where they could have taken it.

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