Fall TV In Review, Pt. 2: Glee

Oh Glee. My relationship with you is so complicated. First I unashamedly liked you. Then I liked you, but was ashamed that I did. Then I didn’t like you, but felt ashamed that I didn’t (Thanks Baylor!). Then I didn’t like you, and didn’t feel bad about it at all. But now I like you again, and have all sorts of confusing feelings about you. Like, how much do I like you? Is it real? Will it last? Is it bad for me? Basically, you’ve turned me into a high school girl, so… thanks for that…

Anyway, if there’s a word to describe Glee as a whole, it’s exploitative inconsistent. Not just season to season, but episode to episode. Hell, sometimes it’s inconsistent from scene to scene! But in general, this season has been pretty good. Which is ironic, since the ratings have been going down. But that’s TV for you.

To recap the season, it’s Senior Year for many of the characters, which means that they’ve been confronted by some harsh realities. Finn doesn’t know if he can get into college, or even if he wants to. Rachel and Kurt want to go to an exclusive performing arts school, but have realized that while they might be big fish in their little ponds, the Real World is a freaking ocean. For many of them, this is the last chance they have to win nationals. For many of them, this is the last time they’ll really be friends before everything changes. Senior year is a wonderful year. It’s hopeful. It’s rewarding. It’s fun. But it’s also tinged with sadness, with the knowledge that a big chapter of your life is closing. That chances are running out to make memories of high school (and by extension, childhood). And Glee has mostly taken that and run with it.

Over the course of the season so far, we’ve seen the race for Student Council President, the auditions for West Side Story, a congressional election, a Crazy Baby Snatching Plot, and a cliche Oppressive Asian Parent storyline play out. By and large, these were well-executed. The school musical generated a lot of tension: Rachel vs. Mercedes, Blaine vs. Kurt, Mike Chang vs. Mrs. Chang. Tension is the lifeblood of television, so this is good. The Student Council race was somewhat less good, but still one of the better plots. I thought Rachel entering was not necessary, as it took away from what could have been a great Kurt vs. Brittany story. But having Rachel get suspended for cheating in the election also added some uncertainty, both to sectionals or regionals or whatever, as well as to her future at NIATA (NYATA? I don’t know these things). Mike Changs scenes with his mom were really moving, though his dad’s role felt rote and somewhat hastily resolved.

Quinn’s whole scheme to get her baby back was Dumb. Puck sleeping with Shelby was Dumb. Quinn magically de-emo-nizing herself was Dumb, but at least hopefully she won’t be so useless anymore. The return of Troutymouth was Dumb. No strip club would hire a 17 year old, because the penalties for that, I’m sure, are pretty severe. Quinn suddenly being all “We’re both blonde hotties, let’s be together,” was Dumb, though not out of character.

On the other hand, I liked Santana’s Journey of Self Discovery. It felt like a more realistic version of Kurt’s journey. Santana and Kurt are both gay. But unlike with Kurt, the writers have not tried to make Santana into a saint and cipher for their beliefs. Instead, they’ve stayed true to her, and allowed her to be a mean bitch. Which is great. Like Kurt, Santana came out to her parents, and like Kurt, she was accepted by them. Unlike Kurt however, she was met with hostility from her grandma. Because in the real world, there are consequences to coming out sometimes. Unfortunate, bigoted consequences.

I also liked the building tension between Blaine and Kurt. Or rather, I might, if it goes anywhere. For a while, it seemed to be coming to a head. Which makes sense. They’re both gay, but Blaine can really pass as straight, which is a definite asset for an actor. And while Kurt can sing, so can Blaine. Better. What worries me though is the inclusion of a new rival for Blaine. If this guy exists to exploit the growing tension between them, that’s cool. But if he’s there to transfer Kurt’s anger to someone else, that’s less cool.

Ultimately, this has been a MUCH stronger season than the last, with the exception of the Christmas episode. Which. Was. Awful. I get that it was trying to parody awful Christmas specials. But that meant that it was AWFUL. Why did that special last so long? Seriously, it took up two whole sections! That’s like 20 minutes of black and white overacting, cheesy dialogue, and crappy Christmas songs! And the fact that they tried to turn that Irish kid who was shoehorned into the plot because of The Glee Project into Linus from Charlie Brown was… well… offensive to fans of Charlie Brown. Like me.

So, in conclusion, my recommendations for Glee are as follows:

1. Gradually (or suddenly, whatever) remove Sue Sylvester from the plot until she isn’t there at all.

2. Continue to de-creepify Will Schuester, and resist the urge to turn his sexless relationship with Emma into An Issue.

3. Let Idina SING.

4. More Blaine, less Troutymouth.

5. Continued emphasis on arcs, but resist the urge to wrap everything quite so neatly, unless you can really earn the emotional payoff.

And with that, I’m out.

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