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Stars discuss their unexpected 'Glee'

By Andrea Mineo, CNN
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'Glee' inspires through song
  • Cast members of the hit show "Glee" are surprised by its success
  • Actress Jane Lynch calls the show "quirky in the best sense of the word"
  • Matthew Morrison says shows like "American Idol" helped set groundwork for "Glee"

New York (CNN) -- The thing about "Glee" is that it came along at the right time.

The current television landscape isn't exactly a smorgasbord of satisfying viewing. It's littered with about-to-be-canceled programs that never establish viewership, a few standby dramas and reality show after reality show. Enter "Glee."

A cross between "The Breakfast Club" and "Grease"? Maybe not, but "Glee" is a combination of teen angst, musical theater and soap opera-worthy love triangles ready for prime time.

This isn't the first television show to base each episode around a big production number. Think "Fame" and "Cop Rock." But "Glee" does it with purpose.

"A song is never sung for no reason," says star Jane Lynch. "There's always deep psychological or emotional impetus for the song, and it's usually uplifting or tragic, and I think people love that, especially bringing that out through music."

"Glee" is different. It can be politically incorrect and yet it manages to address social issues correctly. It's quirky in the best sense of the word. And maybe the fact that it's set in a high school is the draw. Every adult has high school memories -- some good, some bad, some very bad. The teens who are watching "Glee" now can so like, oh my God, totally relate.

Being part of a hit television show is a rare thing considering most highly rated programs these days are starring rich non-acting housewives or people who are famous because they are rich non-acting housewives

So it's not surprising that two of the show's stars are very happy these days.

Watching "Glee?" Tell us what you think

I spoke with "Glee" leads Matthew Morrison, who plays the hopeful and very likable Will Schuester, and Jane Lynch, who plays coach Sue Sylvester, need I say more. The following is an edited version of those interviews:

CNN: I have to ask you about the unbelievable success of "Glee." Did you ever expect this to happen?

Matthew Morrison: No. You audition to be in a pilot every year. To turn into this, it's. ... We're all set on a goldmine, and we're all excited and honored. It's hard to talk about it because it's such a special show and we're so happy to be a part of it.

CNN: It's basically musical theater on television. Why do you think the people were ready for it?

Morrison: I think a show like this probably couldn't have happened five years ago, but I think with the success of "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance" and other movie musicals, like "Hairspray, " "Chicago" and "Nine" that's coming up, they set the groundwork for people to accept it and being excited about it. I think we're putting a different twist on it to make it fun and interesting and kind of cool.

CNN: In the past few episodes, some bombshells were dropped. What can we expect in future episodes? Are you privy to anything?

Morrison: Am I privy to anything? I'm privy to everything. But there's going to be a lot more bombshells dropped. It's that kind of show every week. Something really big happens. I think that's the really exciting thing about the show. I'm not going to tell you anything.

CNN: Nothing? You can't give anything away?

Morrison: No. I'm sorry.

CNN: It's OK. Aside from the musical aspect of the show, do you think people are drawn to the underdog storylines?

Morrison: Yeah, it is a show about the underdogs. I think that everyone in the world at some point was an underdog, so I think everyone can relate to the show in that way.

CNN: The cast of "Glee" was supposed to sing on its own float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast on NBC. Then suddenly they weren't. What happened?

Morrison: You know about that as much as I do. I read about it on the Internet. I think they spun the story really well for "Glee." They didn't help NBC's cause, but I think it's interesting. But we're chugging away, and it's better for us we don't.

CNN: Are you having the time of your life right now?

Morrison: I am. I'm having the best time ever.

CNN: What has made "Glee" so instantly popular with viewers?

Jane Lynch: I think it's important for us to see the loser aspect of ourselves, reflected on television. ... We like to root for the underdog. And these are a bunch of kids who in spite of getting slushies thrown in their faces every day and being maligned ... the high school culture. ... They show up to every day dutifully to glee club and sing their hearts out and support each other. I think that's something all of us want to root for, and we love music. We're the home of American musical theater. We created it.

CNN: Tell me about Sue Sylvester. Something unexpected was revealed about her recently.

Lynch: Right. In the past episode of "Glee" you find out that Sylvester has an older sister with Down Syndrome who's in an institution, and so we get to see the softer side of Sue, and see how much she loves her sister and how gentle and kind she is with her sister. And of course she turns around and stabs someone else in the back. But we know that she does have it in there, that she has a heart. But we won't see a lot more of that of Sue.

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuck, the writers ... there's nothing conventional about them and they'll never do anything by hitting ... the nail and the head are going to come around the back door. That's what I love about getting a new script from them every week. You know it's going to be different and weird and really grounded in reality.

CNN: Can you relate to Sue Sylvester in any way?

Lynch: You know that devil on your shoulder that tells you terrible things about people and of course you'd never say "maybe you don't really believe." She has no filter, and it just comes right out. So I'm a nice person after I leave "Glee" because I get to exercise the heinous behavior while I'm in a track suit yelling at defenseless children.

CNN: How much fun is it being able to have no filter?

Lynch: It's great, it's the best. Whatever that comes to Sue's head comes out of the mouth. She loves the look of shock on people's face that they can't believe that she would say that and indeed she did.

CNN: Do you know what's going to happen next in any of the storylines? Are you clued in ahead of time?

Lynch: No, I am not. I know that we will go to the sectionals. We may win, we may lose, we'll see. But uh. ... It's going to be interesting. People will break up, people will get together. We're going to be seeing odd pairings. Buckle in, it's going to be a lot of fun.

CNN: I feel like every episode can stand on it's own.

Lynch: You can watch one episode. ... Each one is isolated and makes sense, and you can get involved in it. That's the hallmark of a really good, well written show. Yeah, they stand on their own. Really fine episodes.