Some Overdue Musings on Glee

If I tried to even remotely write on my feelings about Glee, I think my laptop would overheat and explode – so I have avoided the temptation to rant on, paragraph after paragraph, about all the maddening things this show is now guilty of. It isn’t going to change, so why bother? And anyway, I have Ryan McGee to angrily tweet my feelings and assure me that I am not crazy with his incisive reviews. I watch to maintain my foothold in the cultural narrative, and because of my weekly ritual to “live-text” the show with a friend. But amongst all the negatives that I find, even in the most recent episode, I stumbled upon a glimmer of hope: the legacy that Glee will leave is going to be very positive. (I hope.) More on that in the conclusion.

The Whitney installment, “Dance with Somebody,” exemplified one of my newest pet peeves: it seems more and more obvious that good Glee (or acceptable Glee at this stage) versus not great Glee hinges on the theme of the week. Sometimes the theme is so broad almost any genre or artist can be featured that week. With this range they initially chose songs that reverberated emotionally and with the plot. Nowadays that happens more sporadically, with the larger concern being whatever Top 40 song they can shoehorn into the episode to generate iTunes sales. The Whitney episode bugs me on a larger scale: obviously this episode was in response to very recent event. What theme did this replace? Or am I still showing too much faith in the writers to assume they had these final episodes sketched out around the time of Whitney Houston’s passing? But that would also require me to believe in the idea that any of the plot matters, which it clearly doesn’t, since no strides made by characters carry through to the next week. Did plot points that were going to be addressed already fit so seamlessly with Whitney’s songbook or were events thought up on the fly to fit with those songs? I think it was largely the latter. But I digress.

Before the manipulation of plot for Whitney was apparent, I was employing my snarky, text-y, tweet-reading method of quasi-paying attention to the episode when Glee grabbed my attention. In a good way. In a thought-provoking way, on a personal and universal level. I thought I was fairly detached from Glee at this point, but Kurt so brazenly texting his new “friend”/flirt partner in front of Blaine made me see red. Okay, I realize Kurt is a teenager but it was just so, so hurtful to do that. (Never mind the fact that Rachel appears to be under the impression only significant others text each other…sighhh.) Next, the whole confrontation scene occurred between Blaine and Kurt; I thought Darren Criss was so good here. The whole argument made me upset, and I really needed Kurt to understand that he was acting inappropriately.

But not-so-shockingly this segued into Whitney’s “It’s Not Right, But It’s Ok,” prefaced by Blaine dedicating it to those who had been cheated on. And it felt like the entire plot structure of the episode led to that moment, and to moments later when Kurt sang “I Have Nothing” back to Blaine. This led to Blaine and Kurt in Emma’s office, trying to actually resolve the issue that (shockingly) two Whitney songs failed to fix. Ignoring the fact that Emma is now equipped to be McKinley’s in-residence couples-counselor as well, this scene felt organic. I think one way or the other Glee would have dealt with Blaine’s anxiety over Kurt graduating and heading to New York, and Kurt’s (plot-motivating) lingering jealously over Blaine texting Sebastian. I am less convinced they needed Kurt’s emotional cheating to get us to this conversation. I just hope someone cures Blaine’s melancholy over their relationship (this is high school!!) and that someone makes Kurt realize that Ohio to NYC is probably not going to be a weekly weekend trip that Blaine is going to make.

Real Talk.

Blaine: And while we’re being perfectly honest, I don’t like that with every conversation, we end up always talking about NYADA. What song you’re going to sing, what outfit you’re going to wear to your callback, how amazing New York is…In a few months, you’re going to be gone. With this brand-new life, these brand-new friends, brand-new everything, and I’m going to be right here. By myself. You’re right. I have been distant. And I’m sorry. But I’m just… trying to practice what life is going to be like without you. You are the love of my life, Kurt. And I’m pissed off that I have to learn, for the next year, what being alone is going to be like.

Kurt: But you’re not going to be alone. I’m going to Skype you every day, and you’re going to come visit me in New York every weekend as far as I’m concerned. But I promise, you aren’t going to lose me.

On a larger, (slightly unrelated) scale, I left this episode of Glee feeling positive about the show’s legacy. It may be slipping in the ratings with those fans who can no longer stand the nosedive in quality, but it is still widely popular with kids, pre-teens, teens etc. A much younger crowd than would typically be watching a show that promotes LGBT relationships and examines (however, haphazardly re: Santana’s coming out) some worthy issues. Not every parents can be as cool as Amelia and her husband (her 7 year old son refers to Blaine as his boyfriend) but my sincerest hope is that these kids will help to re-orient the world around a vision where the kids at McKinley are the norm. And I think it has the potential to do that. After all, if reigning cool guy Jenko can go back to high school and find that hipsters, goths, and a gay guy can be part of the popular crowd (“I totally know the cause, Glee. Fuck you Glee!”) then I hope we all can.


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About Staciellyn Chapman

Grad student at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. This blog is an attempt to condense the craziness that is my TV viewing habits (with the occasional aside into film, music, and general life).

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