Through the wonders of internet streaming, I have been watching two TV series — V and Glee — in parallel. You might think this to be an odd combination of choices. After all, one is a horror tinged science fiction epic about invasion by evil aliens, teeming with dark and deeply disturbing special effects and filled with paranoia. The other is a light-hearted comic parody of high school musicals, complete with topical pop-culture references and wall-to-wall song and dance numbers.
Which is why it’s so interesting that they turn out to be essentially the same show.
First off, you have the most important character, the central deus ex machina who drives the show — the evil villainess. Anna, the soulless and calculating lizard queen, is pretty much the same character as the evil coach Sue Sylvester. Both are all powerful forces of pure darkness, charming in their way, but utterly and single-mindedly ruthless and bent upon world domination and the utter annihilation of their enemies. We’re talking classic Disney villainess here, a powerful older woman who dares to be smarter than the guys around her, and therefore — in old Walt’s view of the world — must by definition be scary and evil. Sometimes I wonder what was really up with Mr. Disney. Can you say “mother issues”?
Then of course you’ve got your basic plucky heroine, strong yet vulnerable. She’s the best in the world at what she does — whether it’s being a crack FBI agent or belting out a capella show tunes — yet consumed by unresolved emotional issues. For all her success, she is a failure at relationships with men, doomed to forever search for the very emotional intimacy that her neurotic nature is, ironically, always driving away.
Then there’s the hunky guy, strong yet sensitive, with leading man looks and a tragic romantic flaw. Whether it’s having joined the priesthood and sworn a vow of celibacy in order to run away from a dark and violent past, or watching his marriage fall apart because he spends all his time singing and dancing with teenagers (I’m not sure which of those two back-stories is more tragic), the guy is both emotionally present and absent at the same time — a projective fantasy for all women watching the show precisely because his powerful inherent virility can never find consummation.
Of course there is also the boyish teen guy with the great smile — sensitive, beautiful, catnip to adolescent females, yet rather thuddingly stupid. Whether he is obliviously lusting after a sexy young woman he doesn’t realize is actually a cold-blooded lizard, or merely spending his years in high school being jerked around by teenage girls who just act like cold-blooded lizards, the guy is seriously clue-impaired. Yet it is clear that in this show his role is to be God’s fool, so he’s probably going to be ok.
Both shows feature good people who find they have become outsiders in their own world, pitted against an all powerful force of darkness and evil. And both narratives center around a very weird and rather disturbing pregnancy, the symbol of a dysfunctional future for our characters that draws us in even as it repels us.
The similarities are endless, the parallels uncanny. I don’t know about you, but I would like to see these two shows combined into one. In particular, I would love to see Kurt go up against Anna. You just know the alien ruler wouldn’t stand a chance. Although I’m sure young Kurt would take a moment, before finishing off the astonished lizard queen, to tell her how much he admires her make-over.