We both love Glee.
We love its ridiculousness. The camp. The fun. The music. We love it.
But then we diverge.
He thinks it's pretty good as it is. It is what it is and that's enough. Me - not so much. Just because I love something doesn't mean I don't see its flaws.
While I am overjoyed that Glee is returning to screens in April, I am hoping for some changes. Glee isn't perfect. There are areas where it can be tweaked to become even better. When several of the cast members were nominated for Golden Globes I was more than a little perturbed. While they are all brilliant singers, most of them haven't been given the material (or demonstrated the acting ability) to warrant a nomination - Jane Lynch excepted.
We excuse Glee because it brings us joy. The singing, the dancing, the quips all excuse story issues and sometimes tepid acting.
But I ask you this - were Glee song and dance-less...would you watch it for the stories only? When you go to YouTube are you searching for scenes or for dance numbers?
Problem #1 - Consistency
The songs are performed well but the structure of the show is a mess. Both as a seasonal arc and on an individual basis, the consistency of character development and the overall storyline is bordering on horrific.
The fantastic Kristen Chenoweth guested in episode and was outstanding. However, it's made clear that Will had a GIANT crush on her but there's no sight of already threatened and unstable Teri. Following episode, Teri finds out about Will and Emma's flirting and she's all over the situation like crazy on toast. The eight fingered teacher...never seen again after Acapellas. Mercedes crush on Kurt was never mentioned again after the episode. Mercedes takes issue with Rachel getting solos, sings her butt off proving her awesomeness then meekly submits during the sectionals solo to Rachel. (I guess she didn't feel that strongly. Really? She doesn't have other songs prepared. Really?) Does an awesome Barbra Streisand cover excuse some really shoddy story machinations?
And Rachel....Rachel's madly in love with Finn...with an exception to the week when she fixates on Will, then she's back in love with Finn. Never mentioned again, no residual weirdness.
Also....with all the songs they've performed throughout the first half of the season, they decided to sing a new one when their options were flogged? How on earth does that make sense? You Can't Always Get What You Want was amazing but what was the point of all the other songs they worked on with the intent of performing them at THE SECTIONALS!
The solutions to most of the conflict is rather Brady Bunch in its isolation. The story lines are usually so brief that they can be tied up with a red bow and never heard of or referenced again. This isn't great storytelling in a holistic sense. I still love watching it though.
The solution? They need story lines pronto. The road to Sectionals and two convoluted pregnancies weren't enough for the first half season. These two story lines were the only major ongoing ones. There is a whole cast relegated to love triangles, one episode hook ups/crushes and "issues". Love and Sectionals weren't enough.
Though Kurt's storyline, which didn't fall in either category, was the best handled storyline of the season so far. It was a three episode sporadic arc but the emotional resonance was there, the song choices were great without being obvious (Single Ladies, Defying Gravity) and the acting was solid (bravo Chris Colfer and Mike O'Malley).
Problem #2 - Guest Stars
Ryan Murphy has the means of getting really big names on the show. Stars want on, whether in person or their songs. The iTunes royalties, name recognition and ratings alone make it VERY worth their time. While Josh Groban (funny and quick) and Kristen Chenoweth's appearances have been fantastic, they shouldn't be the norm. With announcements that Olivia Newton-John, Jonathan Groff, Jennifer Lopez, Neil Patrick Harris and Idina Menzel are soon to appear, I am feeling both excitement and dread. As much as April's (Kristen Chenoweth) appearance on the show allowed her to rock out, it did absolutely nothing for the story of the Glee club and specifically the members of Glee.
My ask is that stunt casting doesn't prevail at the expense of secondary characters. While I love Groff, Menzel and Harris (no comment on Lopez), it's feeling like Glee Variety Hour. I'd rather an episode devoted to the wonderful world inside Brittany's locker (imagine how wonderful that could be) or developing Artie, Tina, Kurt, Mercedes or the dancing ethnicity twins (Mike and Matt). The show needs to concentrate on the core cast. I LOVE the people they plan on bringing on but they need to stay true to the story of the actual Glee members.
Guest stars are fabulous but small portions are ideal. Josh Groban's small appearance was great and should be the norm, not the Kristen Chenoweth story slice. The show's called Glee, not temporary Glee cast member hiccup!
Fingers crossed that the stunt casting with Glee members' parents are actors rather than singer/actors (I consider theatre people the exception to this). Victor Garber (Will's Dad) is welcome anytime.
Problem #3 - Music
I hear you sharpening your knives already but let me get this out. While I LOVE the singing and dance numbers, I don't like the clunkiness of some of their song choices. Papa Don't Preach? Really? Obvious much? I don't care how appropriate it is to Quinn's storyline, it didn't work. Especially singing it to children... Was it funny? Mildly. Was it sung well? Not particularly.
I prefer Glee when it's loose and less produced. Hate on Me is one of my favourite numbers and could probably be considered one of the least choreographed.
Also, don't let Mr Schu rap! The man has a way with melody. Why do they continue to inflict his vanilla rap on us all?
Also, no more singing to sonograms...too cliche. Even the most devout Gleeks winced during that scene.
Problem #4 - Finn
He's tall. Frankenstein tall. That's the only selling point I have. I don't get why he's the bee's knees, other than being the typically vanilla, non-threatening boy band type that tweens get their knickers in a knot over. Rachel likes him as he sees her for what she is, rather than the prima donna that she can sometimes be. While that is admirable, he's also super humanly dumb (not a great character choice by the producers, mildly dumb would have been fine), rhythmically challenged and let's face it, not the best singer.
They have written themselves into a corner with his stupidity. Not knowing what a library is classifies him as ridiculously stupid. The posturing of the Glee club's male hierarchy is also a stretch. The other guys are to be considered lesser singers if Finn is the saving grave and lead male. What? On what planet does that make sense? Everyone of the guys (possibly even NO singing, NO talking, JUST dancing Mike and Matt) sing better than Finn.
Forget Rachel, Finn should be challenged for male lead.
Problem #5 - Tone
This could have been tossed in the consistency section but I decided to harp on about it by itself. Nothing was more jarring than the Terri/Will reveal scene in Episode 12 - Mattress. This was mainly due to the fact that the scene didn't mesh with the show. He played it too big. (I know many people would disagree.)
In a show that is largely farcical in a heightened reality, you have to make sure the tone is consistent. If the storyline arcs aren't, then you're going to have issues. While I agree that Will's reaction was warranted for the circumstances, I don't think the level of reaction (especially the aggressiveness) was consistent in the tone of the show or the character itself.
What Can Be Done?
I am not one to point out problems and not make some suggestions. Here are my ideas, not saying that any of them are good.
- Flesh out the rest of the Glee members....specifically Tina, Artie, Mercedes. Currently they have one episode issues (that are never to be heard of again) or meaningless story lines. Give them something of quality.
- Establish if Cheerios (Santana and Brittany) and Footballers (Mike and Matt) can sing.
- Have more complicated arcs that make sense (aka remove necessary character stupidity to make story line work).
- Appropriate levels of Sue - she's great as is. Let's not RUIN a good thing by using her too much and making her integration into Glee-world unreasonable.
- Keep guest star appearances short, sharp and shiny. Don't stunt cast ever episode.
- For someone who "loves" Finn, Rachel sure flirts in her affections a lot - Finn, Puck, Mr Schu and shortly Jon Groff (though who can blame her). They need to establish her connection to Finn more. Why is she in love with him? Is she in love with him? They've actually established Kurt's love of Finn better than Rachel's.
- Brittany - keep her the same. Please. A quip here, a quip there. Dead-glorious-pan galore.
- Can every song NOT be introduced as Regional's fodder? There were heaps of Sectionals songs and yet they ended up using a new one - go figure!
- No more filler episodes. In a thirteen episode season, the A story line of the majority can be considered as such. A pointless storyline for the sake of a gimmicky routine doesn't cut the mustard...think Mattress' Jump and Wheels' Proud Mary.
What brings me Glee...
It's not all negativity.
- Routines like My Life Would Suck Without You that closed out Episode 13 - Sectionals. It was the perfect combination of performance, choreography and story relevance.
- Mark Saling's Sweet Caroline. While I am sure the whole throwaway aspect of the Rachel/Puck dalliance (or Puckleberry as shippers have named it) was created for this moment, it was worth it. Sung simply, not over produced and just swoon worthy.
- Playing against the cliche...Kurt and his Dad...brilliant.
- Quips...I can never get enough whether from Sue, Brittany or Kurt.
- Great spread of music influence from mainstream pop, to musical standards to Billy Idol re-imagined. When they get it right, they get it amazingly right.
- The cast. Some may not be completely there yet on the acting front but on the whole they are such a winning bunch that I love them enormously.
- Chris Colfer...some may say Jane Lynch is the break out star, I beg to differ. Kurt Hummel is a breath of fresh air over a dusty, tired remote. I re-watch episodes to focus on his background work...the boy can work his face like a fine tuned watch!
- Lea Michele...is there nothing she can't sing?
Stupid is as Stupid Does...
- The Drug Storyline of Episode 6 - Vitamin D. While Glee isn't drawing everything out in terms of story lines, they are wasting great possible dramatic arcs by dismissing them as one episode jokes. We've seen this with Puck and Rachel, a pairing with great potential that was used as a throwaway. However, this pairing received so much attention, this throwaway is now being resurrected due to audience demand. Great thinking, producers!
- Reality show...they are casting new Glee cast members as part of a transparent, reality show like process. NO. Too much. How about they focus on the Glee members that we don't know very well? I still can't tell you which male dancer is Mike and which one is Matt. So that's a big fat no to whoring the casting process and to bringing in new cast when the old ones haven't had nearly enough screen time.
- Leaks. The story leaks to the media are ridiculous. I love spoilers but I shouldn't be able to have producer endorsed exposure to the storyline, the songs (even recordings), etc prior to the broadcast. There are very little surprises for me going into episodes before. Keep some mystery, Ryan Murphy.
Forgiveness can sometimes be evil.
We are all willing to forgive Glee. I am willing to forgive it for a lot (and after this post you know I have issues to forgive).
The Will/Sue Lindy Hop. Really?
Was that character consistent? No?
Did I enjoy it? Yes.
Was it more than a one note, never to be referenced again joke? No.
The last word goes to William who responded to my 140 character issue rant about Glee with this....