Glee‘s first season was nothing short of a revelation. It had accomplished what nobody had ever accomplished in the history of television. It took the idea of a musical TV show airing in primetime and made it a smash hit. And for those not put off by the sheer principles of the format, it was drop-dead entertaining to boot! It stumbled here and there, sure. Some of the early episodes were awkward when they weren’t sure if the musical numbers were real or not and Home was just kind of dull. But beyond that, Ryan Murphy and company managed to churn out one of the most consistently enjoyable hours of television in the ’09-’10 season.
And now here we are, halfway through season 2, and wow is it really starting to suck. What happened? It seems as though Glee‘s producers learned all the wrong lessons from season 1. The human moments have been shedded, making way for big, flashy moments to carry the show along. The musical numbers have mostly reverted to being sheer reproductions of the music videos for the original songs. And the storylines have reached an almost comedic level of inconsistency.
But by far the most glaring issue with the new season is the melodrama. Oh, the melodrama! Glee has always had it’s dramatic undercurrents, sure, but they were under-currents. Glee is better when it uses the comedy and music to mask an air of sadness, not when it openly discusses how sad it is. Which brings me to my first tip for saving the season:
- Remember that you’re a comedy show. I understand that there are dramatic elements that are important to the over-arching narrative, and I get that if they were to disappear the show would suffer. But the melodrama of this season is threatening to swallow the show whole. So, my suggestion? Just do one episode that completely shucks the drama. Just one. One episode that is nothing but pure balls-out comedy. With giant fun musical numbers to go along with it. Maybe Sue gets up to one of her schemes and the glee club has to stop her. I don’t know! What I do know is that in this episode Will doesn’t get to fret over Emma, Kurt doesn’t get all angsty (not a bad storyline, mind you, but it’s kind of been beaten to death this year), and I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but Brittany is kept to a minimum. She’s a funny character in small doses, but she went from a supporting character with the occasional funny one-liner to a major player while skipping the entire transitional phase that would have made that less jarring.
- Remember that your characters are human beings. By the end of the first season, basically all of the characters had become less selfish, and had let their humanity shine through (at least to the home viewer, if not each other, yet). But this season Rachel’s back to being a self-absorbed witch (seriously, I hate her this year), Will’s had at least two storylines where in a desperate attempt to seem cool he’s put himself in scenarios involving inappropriate interactions with students that just make him seem creepy, and even Sue chucked her epiphany from the end of season 1 aside in favor of being even more comically evil than she was last year. I know nobody involved with Glee ever claimed subtlety was an important factor for the show, but seriously, it’s just getting ridiculous!
- Fill in the gaps. The big, splashy moments are Glee‘s bread and butter, but the producers seem to be leaning too hard on that crutch lately. And even though the epic moments are what will likely be discussed around the water cooler the next day (people still do that, right?), it makes it way more enjoyable to actually, you know, watch the damn program when the small moments don’t feel like you’re just passing time until the next chance to break into song. Whether that means getting your writers fired up to write better dialogue or getting your cast to work harder to come up with better character moments, I don’t know, but something desperately needs to be done.
And this one is slightly more general, but please, for the love of God, don’t make anymore episodes as wretched as “Brittany/Britney.” The fact that that was the highest rated episode the show has ever seen doesn’t excuse the fact that it was absolutely terrible (and I mean absolutely terrible).
So yeah, if the producers could just follow these simple tips, that would be terrific and I would feel no qualms at all about continuing to watch Glee. It has the capacity for greatness, we saw it a lot last year, but they seem to be resting on their laurels too much, and if they could just shake it up, we could round this season out right. Cue the music!
Posted under Kyle's Adventures in Pop Culture
This post was written by Kyle on December 30, 2010