19 May: Fox’s ‘Glee’ Gambit
Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s musical comedy-drama ‘Glee’ was first screened on Fox on May 19th, 2009. In a strategy to whip up excitement before the season premiere in the Autumn, the network showed the pilot in a plum post-‘American Idol’ slot, and then besieged websites and social networks with advertisements over the Summer.
The strategy worked – justifying ‘Glee’s enormous budget, relatively unknown cast, and complex musical rights negotiations – and by the end of 2009 the show had generated 25 Billboard Hot 100 hits from its soundtrack.
In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how this tightly-structured pilot cunningly conceals its Broadway roots whilst introducing its cast of characters; consider how the success of the series launched Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ onto an unsuspecting UK; and consider whether the show’s happy vibes had the good fortune to launch in the midst of the financial crisis…
• ‘Glee Pilot Oral History, Part 4: The Premiere’ (Out Magazine, 2015): https://www.out.com/television/2015/3/19/glee-pilot-oral-history-part-4-premiere
• ‘How Ryan Murphy Became the Most Powerful Man in TV’ (The New Yorker, 2018): https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/05/14/how-ryan-murphy-became-the-most-powerful-man-in-tv
• ‘Glee Pilot Promo – May 19th, 2009’ (Fox, 2009):
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