Category: TV

Reviews / TV

Breaking Down GLEE

May 27, 2011

To me one of the most aggravating and soul-crushing shows on television has been FOX’s GLEE.

Perhaps it’s my ability to not handle BS being thrown at me, but I’ll level with you examiners, the show is one of the most inconsistent pieces of crap on tv. Maybe crap is a strong word, but I have been sitting on this goldmine of anger for so long, that it’s time to let loose. The problem is that the show delivered an eloquent Season 2 finale. And that makes me even more angry.

I remember when the show began to premiere, my co-host on the podcast Jon Bettin told me about it in advance, after American Idol in the late spring/early summer they were going to preview the show. It was about show-choir, and further more, it was going to take place right here in our backwoods of Ohio. Lima, to be exact. When I saw the pilot, I was ecstatic. The show, despite showcasing some very basic tropes, was a television musical, and better yet, it was going to hit Fox come fall. Returning in September the show took off and I was one of those swept up in the action. I was a Gleek.

The show sang to my inner song-bird, the unpopular kid in school, and I dug it. It reminded me in someways of being back in high school. Maybe not having it as bad or out there as the glee kids had it obviously, but still.

But by episode 15, I began to see the show lose a bit of it’s focus. There were talks of themed episodes. The characters began to act a bit out of character. I thought nothing of it though, as in it’s core, GLEE was getting a major waive of success, one I was happy to contribute to and enjoy as a gleek. It was here that I began to see a problem though, one that didn’t really register that much until Season Two. I began to not like being a GLEEK.

The show was originally picked up for thirteen episodes and when the show after two airings was already so popular FOX ordered a back nine, it became apparent to me that the show really didn’t expect or plan ahead beyond episode thirteen entitled ‘Sectionals’. It was more apparent to me that the show just wasn’t celebrating it’s popularity, it was cashing in on it too.

And I was guilty of helping it along, but by Season two’s premiere, my opinion began to grow sour a bit. The idea that the show was feeling a bit like HEROES did after season 1, was feeling equally similar to my thoughts with Glee. I began to get worried. And then Season two began. It tried to add a few more cast members. Some were extremely undercooked. Some of the roles of the main cast, the characters began to act out of character. And also, long gone was the focus on Will Schuester as the lead. And also gone was Ken Tanaka and the group the acafellas as an outlet for Schuester. Also what happened to all that scholarship talk from Finn? Finn was clearly talking like a senior, not a freshman or sophomore. And in Season two they relabeled seemingly everyone because the show was a hit and needed it’s cast to stick around. So…many… inconsistencies.
And then the worst offender was what was at one point one of the best parts about the show: Sue Sylvester.

While the show was never a crowning achievement of getting it down to being as close to real life, and each character being a trope or cliché used to fit a certain mold of underdogs, the characters were never cartoony in a bad way, and if they began to go down that path, it was kept real. It was literally like watching a Wes Anderson film with some of these characters. Some of them cliched roles, and although cartoony in appearance, they never felt fake or forced. Wow. What a summer break makes. Sue became what I’d call a giant joke of a character. No longer did she have valid points for doing almost anything on the show. It felt contrived, and just awkward. While Sue has it out for Glee club, we have two examples of episodes of where Sue is acting principal and acts completely differently from one episode to the next. Where was her compassion about students that ended up costing her the job in the previous ep?

But here’s the rub that further insults the viewer: Glee’s second Season apparently took a page out of the ‘Star Trek’ films line of reasoning’. Let me explain: there is a rumor in the industry that every star trek film that is on an even number is good and every other one is bad. It also reiterates their success in the box-office. Glee took a similar page from that book, as every other episode was either well written or was a complete mess; Characters acting out of character, or some just being completely left out and left with nothing to do, like Terri, Schuester’s wife. One of the more interesting bits of story was between Terri and Will in season one, and her character seems tacked on until Sue began to form the Leauge of Doom. Which in itself is laughable. Not to say she is a must-see character but at least in season one they kept the character around. It further shows the lack of respect for the Schuester character overall, as it just wasn’t about Rachel or Finn, but about Will.

The shows have been inconsistent on many counts, not just on characters but on tone and story and song. The Christmas episode in Season two, entitled ‘A Very Glee Christmas’ had Sue becoming the Grinch. The tone should have been to commit to the grinch idea or not at all. The episode had wonderful ideas, Brittney and Santa, vs the grinch homage, and going back and forth from serious/touching to campy parody, the episode couldn’t hold it together; jJust another attempt of the show just going from episode to episode. And what of the quick-ending truce with Schuester: it felt off and not real to what the character would do. Something that they needed Sue to do so Schuester could have an enemy not what she should have done.

Continue reading PART II on Examiner.com