I remember hearing in May 2009 that there was going to be a new show coming out in the fall about a high school glee club. How wonderful! And it’s on Fox, you say? How strange! But, as a person who has a certain high school performing arts program to thank for her sensational triple threat abilities and confusing crush on Nathan Lane, I could not wait to tune in.
I was pleasantly surprised with the first episode. It had everything a show about singing show tunes in a high school multipurpose room should have; wit, self-awareness, and bizarre sweater choices. The comedy was off-beat but charming, the characters were odd but authentic, and the music had just the right blend of top 40s, Broadway standards, and classic oldies. Yes indeed, I was a fan, and not just because I could commiserate with lusting after a man who is clearly homosexual or dressing like a high school toddler. It was all going so well. Which meant, of course, that it had to somehow jump the shark in season 2.
I don’t know if I can truly pinpoint Glee’s downfall to a particular episode. It’s more like a series of unfortunate choices and meta pop culture happenings that just gave it that push over the edge. Ok, fine! You talked me into it; I will be naming a few truly ridiculous things that made Glee the self-conscious and overly-hyped program that it is today. Just to name a few;
1) Grilled Cheesus – Yeah, that whole episode where it was all about religion and Finn thought he saw Jesus in his grilled cheese. Oh, and he thought that the grilled cheesus was making wishes come true. Also, Kurt’s dad was teetering on the edge of death and Kurt was all losing his religion (omg, they sang that song too). So, the conveniently-for-this-episode-Christian Glee kids tried to force their religion on poor Kurt. Yeah, of course Fox would treat a gay kid who’s also an atheist like it’s the end of the world.
2) Super Super Homosexual Kurt – I don’t know if it happened one particular episode or over many, but Kurt just became a ridiculous stereotype of every bad gay cliche. Is he overtly sexually aggressive with disinterested straight men? Check! Is he a social outcast and bullied to a ridiculous proportion? Check! Is he effeminate to the point of wearing women’s clothing? Check! It’s not that I find any of these characteristics to be particularly inauthentic or offensive. No, it’s just the certain combination of stereotyped attributes along with the absurd degree to which they’re underlined that I find to be just so demeaning. Would it kill them to have an original gay character? Would it?
3) Ryan Murphy vs. Kings of Leon (huh?): Last January, Kings of Leon totally turned down Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s request to use their music. Whaaat? But everyone loves Glee! Why, it’s the biggest and best show on television! Ryan Murphy was equally as shocked and decided to tweet “It’s like, OK, hate on arts education. You can make fun of Glee all you want, but at its heart, what we really do is turn kids on to music.” Woah woah woah. Apparently if you don’t want to have your music on Glee, you’re against arts education? Is that right? Ok, perfect. Just checking. No no, Ryan Murphy, your show totes is the most important thing since sliced bread and sequins. Rock on!
3) Gwyneth Paltrow: Yeah, her goop was just all over that second season.
The third season just premiered two nights ago and it’s looking as wobbly as last. All I can say is that I hope it remembers its sweet, odd-ball, humble energy of its first season and loses this awkward self-centeredness that seems to leak from Leah Michele’s very pores. As far as arts as education goes, I look to Sesame Street as the gold standard. And boy, do they have Glee’s number.
Am I right? Am I wrong? Do I have waaay too much time on my hands? I want to know! Comment or be forced to read Ryan Murphy’s Twitter feed for the rest of eternity!