If you’ve noticed a little less hype surrounding Glee in recent weeks, it’s no accident: Series creator Ryan Murphy and Fox have been intentionally turning down the volume on the first-year phenom over the summer in a carefully considered effort to build viewer anticipation for season two — and, hopefully, avoid a possible backlash. “You can’t miss us if we’re always in your face,” Murphy told Vulture. This doesn’t mean Gleeks have been completely starved of new show-related information, or that the PR machine won’t soon be cranked up again. It’s just that, for now at least, everyone involved in the show seems to think a bit of a Glee-prieve is in order.
“I think people are sick of me, I really do,” Murphy says. “I think people are like, ‘Shut the fuck up!’ Even I feel sick of me! I looked at Entertainment Weekly today and there were like four things about me.” Murphy isn’t complaining about the attention; he gets that it’s “the nature of the media,” and knows that much of the early attention the show got was the direct result of Fox’s deliberate brand campaign. This time last year, Fox was seemingly unleashing a new way each day to tout Glee. Even when the show took a five-month hiatus, the buzz machine for the series didn’t let up. “It worked, because I think the hype sort of made people watch the show and get excited,” Murphy says. Indeed, Glee rose from an average audience of around 7 million viewers last fall to as many as 13.5 million this spring. Throw in several hit CDs of music from the show, a DVD of the first half of season one and a post-season concert tour, and Glee quickly went from underdog musical comedy to, arguably, the hottest — and most written-about — show on TV.
While being hot is a good thing, “At some point, even I was like, ‘Enough is enough,’” Murphy says. “So I talked to Fox and we talked to the kids and we said, ‘Let’s just go underground for three months. Let’s stop talking about it (so much).’ It’s been a concerted effort of mine to give it a breather.”
Murphy got no argument from Fox. “We were concerned we were overexposed, that we were getting too much attention,” says Fox marketing president Joe Earley. “So we talked about it with Ryan… and we decided we would pull back for the summer.” The concert tour was limited to just a handful of cities in the spring; repeats of the show weren’t over-hyped; press interviews, while not banned altogether, became less frequent. “If we were going 75 miles per hour before… we’re going 30 miles per hour now,” Earley says.
The media stills finds ways to talk about Glee, of course. A recent TV Academy panel designed to help the show’s Emmy chances also became an opportunity for more spoilers to leak out about next season. Murphy will be talking to reporters today at the TV Critics Association press tour, no doubt resulting in another flurry of media buzz (particularly if Murphy drops some spoilers on critics). And even when talking to Vulture about cutting back on press, Murphy, ever the gentleman, obliged, telling us that next season will feel different than the last batch of season one episodes. “The second season by design is quieter and more intimate. Less numbers, no cavalcade of new people,” Murphy says. “I loved the Madonna episode, but except for the Super Bowl episode, I want to do smaller, more emotional stories… [like] the ‘Wheels’ episode. The whole season is much more like that.”
Meanwhile, enjoy the relative Glee calm while you can. While Murphy really hopes to “not do a lot [of PR] until the Emmy awards, it will all start up again in September,” he says. Look for big name guest stars to be announced for a post-Super Bowl episode, as well as the possibility of another mini-tour featuring the Glee cast. “We’ll be going 80 miles per hour when the show comes back,” Fox’s Earley says.