Here's the thing about Idols. Idols are not interesting. Because of this, Idol shows either play it straight and just appeal to the hardcore idol demo, or mix it up and do something silly. So what happens when you get a straight idol show but give it a serious storyline? Apparently, Wake Up, Girls! happens.
Playing it straight is normally a sorry state of affairs. Soni-Ani, for instance, where the idolness is cranked up to the ridiculous and it's just a tale of a girl prancing about and everybody fawning over her. If you're lucky there'll be some comedy involved but normally they'll have to involve magic, soap opera, comedy or superheroing like UtaPri or AKB0048 (both fun shows for different reasons).
Wake Up, Girls!, however, plays it deadly serious. It approaches the underbelly of being an idol without pulling any punches. We get to see the birth of an idol group but one that was made by a small production company that really doesn't have the resources to promote them. And where the likes of Love Live! have a school of friends which they can get to be the audience and a convenient talent competition that magically loves them, they just have a whole bunch of hard graft and sexism.
Now, I may be overselling it here. They don't get trafficked or anything like that (though it's still early days), but they do get glimpses of the life they could lead if they ever give up on their principles and it makes a far bigger impression than most other looks at idols. Also, the dance sequences are actually properly animated, which is almost unheard of these days.
Either way, if you like idols, you need this in your life but, be warned: watch the movie first. The first couple of episodes have banners across the screen telling you to watch the movie as it tells you more about the formation of Wake Up, Girls!. Bollocks it does, it's completely essential viewing to have any sort of understanding of the characters and their plight. I'm not saying you won't know what's going on without the movie, but you sure as heck won't care.
So, while you get the popcorn on and cue up the movie on crunchyroll, I'm off to see what else is on.