From vampire slaying cheerleaders to middle class suburbia, director and writer Joss Whedon has tackled a wide range of characters in his Hollywood career, but its quirky misfit angst that often works best for the 40-something artist, and this week’s episode of Glee has given him the opportunity to delve deeper into the subject.
Looking at Whedon’s visual resume, it isn’t hard to spot a trend. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse. All of those television shows, of which Whedon created and often directed, deal with characters ostracized from society, some so different that they sport fangs or green skin. Wipe the makeup away, and what’s left is a bunch of misfits, all finding extraordinary ways to express themselves.
Buffy Summers, at first a popular cheerleader, quickly finds herself shrouded in darkness after being thrust into the role of a vampire slayer. Angel is a vampire that doesn’t find it fitting to kill every human that crosses his path, rather he falls in love with a vampire killer. These characters are social outcasts.
Now comes Glee, Fox’s hit series about the antics of a high school singing club is full of misfits. There’s the wheelchair-bound geek dreaming of walking, a gay teenage boy afraid of being loud and proud, a pregnant cheerleader and a girl with fantasies of becoming the next Barbra Streisand. While there is no blood sucking there are plenty of social outcasts, all using songs to feel special.
Not only does the entire series follow Whedon’s creative tone, but the latest episode, “Dream On,” focuses on three of the main characters fantasizing about their wildest dreams.
“I like high school shows,” Whedon said. “I think they tap into something very primal. And when you have some elements that take them to the next level, whether it is physical or musical, it is the kind of thing that completely jazzes me.”