Red Band Society is basically Glee + The Fault in Our Stars – music, except the music is still sort of there thanks to an absurd number of unearned montages and a dude with an acoustic guitar.
Its infuriating as a show, because it’s a brilliant concept. I mean, talk about riding a wave of tested (the hospital drama) and phenomenon (Glee and TFioS), but putting a bunch of stuff in a blender doesn’t make it new or innovative. There’s a reason you’re told never to pitch a project with mathematical formulas based on other people’s projects.
But the biggest problem, really — and I hope this is just typical pilot problems — is that the show doesn’t trust its audience. Instead of using Coma Kid to be hilarious, they use the character to explain things that are already obvious. This combined with various platitudes about the soul and survival — it’s hard to take.
If it’s going to be things beloved past (Glee, because lets admit it’s largely lost the critic’s love) and present (TFioS), then Red Band Society needs to trust the audience to draw those connections on its own. It also needs to trust the audience to draw its own conclusions about who the characters are.
Finally, and most importantly, it needs to accept that most of us took high school literature. And whether or not we love analyzing pop-culture, we’ll likely grasp the irony of the vicious cheerleader needing a heart transplant without this being explained to us, repeatedly, in very tiny words.
Trust. You have to trust the audience to come along with you. Always. Even to places that it’s scary to go or aren’t always well-illuminated. Because if you want the audience to connect to the bravery or cleverness of your characters, you need to let that audience feel brave and clever too.