I don’t usually watch much TV, but this week Miranda and I have gotten quite sucked into The Glee Project on Oxygen Network. Before I go on, I will concede that this program (and network) probably does not target my age or gender group, but none-the-less I’ve found it to be quite moving.
For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the premise is that a dozen or so 18-25-year-olds from around the country are selected to compete for the privilege to guest-star on Glee (and theoretically launch their acting and/or singing career). The show utilizes the somewhat cliché “Bachelor” style competition model whereby a central judge (the head writer of Glee) decides on one person to send home each week, until one remaining contestant can be crowned the winner.
Frankly, I find the format of the show appalling and torturous. It’s clear that the constant threat of being selected as “loser” each week puts the contestants under significant emotional stress. I fundamentally feel that it is unreasonable to treat people this way.
On the bright side, what I do love about the show are the contestants. Rather than searching for the overall most talented singers or actors, The Glee Project selected contestants largely based on who they thought were the biggest underdogs in life.
A wheelchair bound girl, an Asian boy who grew up with same-sex parents, an overweight girl, a boy with severe ADHD and low-spectral autism, a girl from a family with drug problems – and these aren’t even the most impressive individuals.
The specific individual I find most moving is a blind African American teenager who sings and dances beautifully. However, the most impressive contestant is certainly a self-described “half-black Jewish trans-person” who is seven months into his transformation from female to male. Wow – that’s a lot to go through for a college student.
The reason I find the show inspirational is because it reminds me to put things in perspective. Some of the biggest problems and challenges I have ever faced are insignificant compared to what some people have to face every day. It also reminds me that the human spirit is capable of overcoming extreme difficulty and adversity.
I like to think that people can truly accomplish anything they set their minds to – all they need is the will to succeed and solemn determination. To me, this show is the proof.