Last week, after months of rumors, "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy, told "Entertainment Tonight" that the show's writers are working on an episode focused on Britney Spears. This comes at a time when critics are warning that the FOX show, which scored 19 Emmy nominations and spawned best-selling albums in its first season, may face an inevitable sophomore slump. Will a "Britney episode" make for a perfect mash-up and help "Glee" avoid that fate, or will it play as a gimmicky train wreck? (Watch "Glee" cast members discuss the Spears episode)
It may depend on whether Britney actually guest-stars: If it's just a tribute to her music, that's one thing, says Brett Berk in Vanity Fair. Otherwise, "they may want to avoid The Entourage Effect, which seems to plague almost every thriving program, and resist the urge to load up each episode with as many splashy/trashy A- or B-list celebrity appearances as possible," he said. "There is enough struggling Broadway show-trash... out there to keep this series loaded with discoveries for 40 years" without resorting to the Beyonces and Britneys.
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The "Britney issue" is dividing the cast: When Matthew Morrison, who received an Emmy nod for playing "Glee" teacher Will Shuester, "was asked in May about his thoughts about a Britney episode," says Kelly Hartog in the Daily Mail, he said "'That's a rumour her manager started. I hope our show doesn't go along that route.'" Meanwhile, Jenna Ushkowitz, who plays Tina, has said "'I would so not be against a Britney episode. I'm such a huge fan. It would be so much fun.'" Internal dissent might create problems.
Whatever it means for "Glee," it will be a much-needed boost for Britney: "Few performers on Earth could benefit from a 'Glee' tribute right now [more] than Britney Spears. She’s already been consigned to musical irrelevancy by Gaga and Ke$ha, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon," says Drew Magary at Popcorn Biz. "Spears also remains under the conservatorship of her father, and has yet to recover from the very public breakdown she had just a few years ago." A renewed focus on her songs is probably "the right tonic for her career right now."
Sure, but is Britney really worthy of a "Glee" makeover? Objects of previous "Glee" homages like Lady Gaga and Madonna "have more vocal talent," says Free Britney at The Hollywood Gossip. "[Britney's] breathy moans, suggestive lyrics and auto-tuning might sell records, but how will they translate on the program?" I predict ratings success: A Britney-themed episode can probably generate something near the thirteen-and-a-half million viewers who watched the Madonna episode. But "will it be any good? That's another story."
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