Pakistan is planning its own version of 'Glee'

Glee, the hit U.S. TV show, has won fans the world over for its ability to tackle the hard issues of adolescence -- homosexuality, bullying, teen pregnancy -- through the ever-accessible music of Lady Gaga and Britney Spears. And it seems Pakistani television producers have taken note. As AFP reports today, the country will release its own version of the show, Taan, this fall. The news agency has more on the 26-episode series, which will include music from artists like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (the photo above shows a rehearsal for the program):

'Taan' follows the lives and loves of a group of young people who regularly burst into song. But this time they attend a music academy in Lahore, instead of an American high school.

Taan - which is a musical note in Urdu - tackles subjects considered off limits in Pakistan's deeply conservative Muslim society.

For example, a love affair "between a Taliban extremist and a beautiful Christian girl" promises to give Rachel and Finn's tortured romance a run for its money. And even more controversial is a planned storyline depicting a gay relationship.

The show's creators have come up with creative ways to avoid angering authorities. Take the aforementioned plotline of two male lovers. "Let's say in a certain scene, there are two boys talking to each other, they are not allowed to show their physical attachment to each other," explains director Samar Raza, particularly since homosexuality is illegal in Pakistan. "So I bring a third character who says: 'God designed Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.'" This third conservative character will theoretically enable Raza to discuss homosexuality while evading censorship.

Concern about censors isn't the only factor distinguishing Pakistan's version of Glee from its U.S. inspiration. As the Telegraph points out, Taan will include a dark side that isn't exactly applicable to the lives of U.S. tweens:

One of the characters, Annie Masih is described as losing all her family in the 2009 attack on a Christian enclave in the town on Gojra, a real episode in which seven people were burned alive.

Another storyline involves Fariduddin, a member of the Pakistan Taliban intent on blowing up the academy before he is eventually seduced by music.

Then again, Glee hasn't shied away from the dark side of life either.

Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images


The vice president's Latin American trip -- in Bidenisms

Joe Biden is on a six-day swing through Latin America, with stops in Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Brazil. And judging by his visit to Colombia, the vice president is in fine form, dispensing his trademark head-scratchers and hyperbolic praise.

Coming amid news that Colombian negotiators in Havana had reached a preliminary land-reform agreement with the FARC rebel group, Biden's stop in Colombia turned into something of a love-fest with President Juan Manuel Santos, whom Biden praised for his stewardship of the peace process, ongoing efforts to end the country's half-decade-long civil war, and work to deepen economic ties between Colombia and the United States.

But Biden also found time to inform one Colombian woman that she was a pretty mother, and to tell the press that he needed to get his wife Jill some flowers (the two comments appear to be unrelated). Here's how the Colombia trip has played out so far -- in Bidenisms:

Yamile Cárdenas, 26, a single mother of three working at a flower farm Biden visited, described her conversation with America's Don Juan-in-chief as follows, according to a press pool report:

"It was very exciting and he was very nice. He asked about my kids and he said I was a very pretty mom."

And here's Biden on why he visited the flower farm:

And personally I want to make clear to the press, I'm going to the flower farm, and I'm mainly going to get my wife some flowers. I just wanted to make it clear because in my household if I go anywhere near a flower shop, let alone flower farm and don't come home fully armed with flowers, I will have a very unhappy trip to Colombia.

Biden, speaking with President Santos, also referenced his thwarted career ambitions:

And it's great in particular to see you again, my friend. You pointed out -- as the President pointed out, last time I was -- I think we were in Cartagena if I'm not mistaken. When Plan Colombia was announced, you were finance minister and I was a United States senator. Now you're President and I'm Vice President. It's obvious who did well.

And compared this moment in Latin American history to ... something:

And, folks, the one thing the President and I agree on is that the promise not only for our relationships but for the hemisphere are close to limitless. They're close to limitless, and we genuinely believe that if we work together, we can provide what we hope will be the case that -- when the Berlin Wall went down in Europe, we started to talk about a Europe whole and free, which has never occurred. And now it's on the verge of being fully realized. The President and I believe that our children will look to a hemisphere that is middle class, democratic and secure for the first time in the hemisphere's history. And with the leadership of men like President Santos I am confident that our children's future is in very, very good hands.

In Santos, Biden has apparently found another leader equally bad at golf:

So again, thank you, Mr. President. And we were commiserating how we used to each have a relatively good golf game before we got the respective positions we're in. So since we're both playing very badly, let's play together.

Never change, Joe.