TV Fight Club – FAME vs Glee
Welcome to the first edition of the TV Fight Club.
Our first matchup features two programs of different eras that influenced kids of their respective generations with compelling portrayals of adolescent life.
In the red corner, we have FAME. In the blue corner, we have Glee.
Let the games begin.
TALE OF THE TAPE
RUN: 6 SEASONS (1982-1987)
AWARDS: 3 GOLDEN GLOBES, 5 EMMYS
RUN: 7 SEASONS (2009-2015)
AWARDS: 4 GOLDEN GLOBES, 6 EMMYS
FAME was one of those shows that garnered critical acclaim that did not translate to strong ratings, but resonated with kids living in a hard 80’s adult world. Based on the 1979 movie of the same name, the show featured the lives of students and teachers of the New York City-based School of the Performing Arts.
The show had some street-cred because several of the actors actually went to the school and lived the lives of the characters off camera, most notably the late Gene Anthony Ray, who played Leroy. Johnson. He was – and played – a talented but troubled dancer who clashed with his teachers. He passed away in 2009.
In fact, I had an opportunity to talk with Erica Gimpel – who played lead character Coco Hernandez – about the show’s impact.
“You want big dreams, you want fame. Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying, in sweat.”
Many fans of the show estimate FAME’s best years were the first three seasons, before the cast started to change and the show began to lose focus.
The Glee club struck a similiar chord in 2009, introducing us to the choir students of William McKinley high school. Taking a page from FAME, the show heartily and cleverly addressed issues of all kinds with lots of musical numbers and humour.
Many Gleeks point to the tragic death of main star Cory Monteith in 2013 as when the show began to run out of steam. Nonetheless, the show’s influence and crossover success cannot be denied.
“You can’t change your past, but you can let go and start your future.”
Glee recently left the air, but we have Santana Lopez, Finn Hudson, Kurt Hummel, Sam Evans, and of course, Sue Sylvester to fondly look back on.
While I am a big FAME fan, Glee takes the cake. They took the path that FAME carved out, and took it to the next level. It is really that simple. It is important to remember the path that FAME carved out. Without it, there might possibly not have been a Glee as Gimpel points out:
“It gave people a confirmation that yes, you can go for what it is you truly desire. And I think it ignited an inspirational flame in a lot of people that continued to resonate and has spun off… I don’t know a lot of Canadian shows, but in terms of America, the TV show Glee, and now this new TV show called Smash, which is a behind the scenes look at a musical bound for Broadway, so it’s a musical theatre show that’s doing very well. And Glee’s success in terms of the high school Glee Club and all the musical numbers they perform. But FAME was very groundbreaking during it’s time. And what I think is unique about it is being able to harness youthful energy, that volatile, passionate, alive energy and be able to focus it in a direction, is so imperative. I feel that’s what we need in our world right now, so that our youth can really focus their energy to create something that’s really meaningful so they’re alive. That’s what it’s meant to me over the years.” – Erica Gimpel in a 2012 interview with MMA Crossfire.
And while Glee’s footprints are still fresh, it’s future impact appears to look similiar.