Released in 2009, the “Glee” pilot episode is directed by Ryan Murphy and written by Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan. It stars Matthew Morrison, Cory Monteith, Lea Michele and Jane Lynch.
Morrison plays Will Schuester, a young, caring teacher. In the pilot, Will decides to take over William McKinley High School’s glee club that is at risk of shutting down. Through Will’s inspiration, members are inspired to be proud of who they are and to shed conformed images.
The pilot never has problems establishing the show’s cinematic world: a high school filled with classic teenage stereotypes, including popular football players and cheerleaders, nerdy but kind outcasts and inspirational teachers. Everything from the cinematography, fast-paced editing and lighting work to make the show fun and inspirational.
The scene transitions are quick, and character narration is delivered in an energized way. However, the show still feels authentic. When a character is walking down the hall past other kids, it looks like real sights found while walking down the halls of high school.
The pilot also has messages that viewers can draw from, including the importance of self-confidence and working as a team. Michele’s Rachel is a perfect example of this. Rachel is very talented, but arrogant, and has trouble sharing the spotlight. Throughout the series, she learns to be a team player.
Every member of the glee club has flaws to work around in order to be a great team. No one on this show is perfect and that is realistic. Every team has differences to put aside in order for each member to bring their unique contributions to the group. Even Will is not perfect, he makes impulsive decisions like every member of the group.
The best message this pilot sends is one of nonconformity. Each character exemplifies or learns the importance of being yourself rather than a crafted image others created for you. Monteith’s Finn Hudson particularly exemplifies this journey, as he is very insecure conforming to the “jock” image at the beginning, but by finding joy through being in glee club, he learns to openly show kindness and be proud to play sports and sing.
The pilot also sets the musical vibe up for the show well. Background noises are often acapella voices, and so many songs are performed by the characters and heard in the background of scenes (Prepare to hum Journey songs all day after watching). Every song that is played has a purpose and as a result strengthens the show (The performance of “Don’t Stop Believing” is a great example as the performance is the glee club coming together to prove to Will they can be amazing so he will not leave the school for a new job).
The “Glee” pilot set everything in motion for the show. It sets the show’s defined mix of fun and realism for its world. It teaches lessons of teamwork, non-conformity and self confidence through its characters. The songs are endlessly energized and meaningful. All of these things make this pilot amazing! Grab a slushie, this is one tune you’ll want to sing to.
Jake Zamansky can be contacted at