When Glee first premiered in 2009, it was a groundbreaking, unique and clever program. The pilot was so clever, so quick-witted and so charming that I remember saying “this show is going to be cancelled so fast.” I didn’t think there would be an audience for it.
Clearly, I was wrong.
We’re now on Season 5, two episodes in. I watched the show up until last season. I kind of went through this feeling of “I am annoyed with so many things about this show, and yet I can stop watching” syndrome. It was really frustrating. All of the qualities I mentioned about that pilot truly faded away rather fast as the show plowed on. But the charm and talent of its original cast (headed by Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Naya Rivera, Heather Morris, Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays and (reluctantly) Matthew Morrison) is what made me watch every week.
If the show just featured Michele, Colfer and Rivera, I would probably still be watching.
Why did I watch Glee to begin with? Music obviously was the first interest. I truly think that when you see a character sing in a musical, you are actually seeing that character’s honesty and truthfulness. The other was that I love stories about underdogs. And when Glee first started, it was about underdogs in high school who were misunderstood and who came together because of their love for singing. You were rooting for them, because the general population would not.
(Still makes me teary watching it – everything the character of Rachel had been striving for was built into this performance – brilliant).
Of course, much to my surprise, the show completely blew up and EVERYONE (well, mostly everyone) was watching. The show has allowed a grown awareness on all kinds of songs. It’s a pretty big deal if your song ends up on Glee. And I think this is also where things have soured with this show. Consistent storytelling and continuity have been thrown out the window in order to “sell” the latest buzzy song of the week. The writers clumsily find ways to incorporate the songs of the week into their character development and more often than not, it doesn’t work at all. This is the main issue with the show and it’s only gotten worse as time has gone on. The song may have been sung phenomenally, but the sacrifice has been with its writing.
The show was aware of the continuity of its characters (a.k.a. they can’t be in high school forever), decided to jettison some of the core cast last season in order to introduce newbies to the mix. Makes sense and I have to say it was a great decision and quite respectful of the audience as well (Friday Night Lights did this to absolute perfection). However, when I started to tune in last year with the new cast members, what I realized was that these new kids were so underwritten and so cookie cutter (more so than the original characters) that I couldn’t relate – and I didn’t care. So, I turned my TV off on Glee. I would read updates here and there – and found myself more interested in the written recaps. But I stopped. I broke free. My weird addiction was done.
Then, we all heard the news about Cory Monteith this summer.
I found myself being quite down with this news – his goofy jock with a heart and voice of gold was truly the heart of the entire show. Finn saw the good in everyone – he was the team leader, and the one the audience rooted for and loved. I loved his character, and by default, that meant that I really liked him too. So, when I heard that he had passed away there was this weird sadness that came over me – and made me wonder how the show was going to deal with it. Were they going to side-skip in their writing as they are normally prone to do, or would they go full force and deal with this crisis full on? Suddenly, I was interested in Glee again – because no matter how you slice it, I did love the show once upon a time and I couldn’t deny that.
So, I have started to watch this season – two episodes in, and I have my usual hangups going on as per usual. There’s been some nice performances (it’s been Beatles week for these last two) but nothing truly golden.
A promo has been released for next week’s episode entitled “The Quarterback” which will deal with the death of Finn. In 20 seconds of advertising, I was bawling like a baby. There has been no leaks or spoilers around how this episode will go down, and I’m really surprised and impressed by that. Because this is a real life tragedy that has happened and that the writers and actors have no choice but to full on deal with it, I find myself fascinated by the idea that this week’s episode won’t be an acted one. The tears seen, the songs sung…they will be part of this cast’s grieving process – and the audience’s as well. There’s something really dysfunctionally public about that, but extremely beautiful at the same time.
I don’t know whether I will be back to watching the show again after this week. We shall see, I guess.
Also, I’m really not sure what my mental state will be watching this episode. For me, a well-written scene always will connect with my emotions – include music in the equation and well, you’ve got me. Here’s hoping this show does justice to a real life person who connected with many individuals through his television persona – and perhaps in the long run harkens the show back to its former glory.