Oxygen this year has delivered the perfect summer series in The Glee Project, a show so full of talent and heart that it instantly establishes emotional connections so strong they defy indifference. After an episode or two you don't simply like the young competitors -- you care about them and hate to see them go. Memories of the dearly departed linger as the show moves on.
The Glee Project is nothing like those live competition giants American Idol, America's Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance and genre newcomer The Voice. It's more focused and intimate, like Project Runway or Top Chef, largely because it's pre-taped and thoughtfully edited. Each episode shows its young contenders as they take on various performance challenges and work toward the production of a musical sequence that showcases their talents as individuals and as team players, all the while seeking to avoid weekly elimination. In that format, watching them interact with themselves and their instructors, viewers get to know the contestants much faster than they would simply watching them perform on a stage.
The winner on this show, as determined by Glee creator and executive producer Ryan Murphy with input from select colleagues, will be awarded a seven-episode guest arc on Glee. Frankly, I think any or all of these kids would be welcome additions to that show; in fact, during the last few episodes I have come to like some members of the Glee Project cast more than certain individuals in the Glee cast, though that may be the result of poor writing for several of their characters during Glee's flawed second season. Any one of the five competitors who remain in play as I'm writing this column deserves to win, as do some of those who are no longer in the running, including the very impressive Cameron, who had never even taken a singing lesson before auditioning for Glee Project and who looked to be the front-runner until last week, when he chose to leave the show after deciding that the Glee thing wasn't right for him.
This column continues over at MediaPost.