Vietnamese ‘Glee’? Cheers and jeers as remake of hit TV show announced

By Vi Vu - Tam Ky   June 27, 2017 | 06:58 pm GMT+7

As if to prove the untested theory that you can always find a Vietnamese version of everything. 

The cast of "Glee Vietnam" was announced on Monday, but the excitement of seeing a local touch to the award-winning series of high school dreams and drama has been met with a lot of questions.

“So who’s gonna sing?”

That was one of the mixed reactions to the introduction, which met with more criticism than praise.

Many people do not believe the Vietnamese cast, which includes the runner-up of the "Vietnam Idol" singing contest in 2015, can deliver a version that comes close to the American musical, which was a big hit in Vietnam.

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Many have questioned the casting decisions, such as the replacement for Sue Sylvester, played by Vietnamese actress Yaya Truong Nhi. 

And it’s not just the singing. Vietnamese have little faith in the acting ability of local stars. Some have already said they doubt they will be able to find their favorite Rachel, Quinn or Sue Sylvester in the new cast.

“I don’t think the director has watched the original,” a fan wrote on the official Facebook page of Glee Vietnam.

“This is like a slap in the face for Glee,” another fan wrote.

Cuong Dang, a Glee fan, said part of the hatred comes from their love of the original.

“Glee is a reflection of people growing up. It is something that inspires them to let their talents shine, regardless of physical appearance, gender or racial differences,” he said.

“I expected more.”

The Fox show was first aired in May 2009 and quickly became a phenonmemon, featuring numerous big-name guest stars such as Britney Spears, Gwyneth Patrow and Ricky Martin.

The show brings together a group of ambitious misfits who try to escape the harsh realities of high school by joining a glee club, where they find strength, acceptance and their voice, while working to pursue dreams of their own.

In 2011, it won a Golden Globe for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, and an Emmy for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series.

There have been concerns about how the Vietnamese remake will deal with delicate matters such as suicide, bullying and sexuality, which rarely make it onto local screens, at least successfully.

Director Nguyen Phan Quang Binh said the crew wants to make changes to the show to make it suit local culture.

Binh said some changes are necessary because otherwise fans could just watch the original.

“I hope Glee lovers will welcome the changes,” he said.

The first season with 22 episodes will air this August. No details about the production or copyright costs have been revealed.