When I first saw the pilot of Glee (bought off iTunes for FREE), I was entranced. I loved the idea and I loved the weird tone and I loved the diversity of the characters and I just LOVED IT.
As usual whenever I watch shows, I watched certain names appear over and over again on the screen, and made note that Ryan Murphy had not only created this show, but had directed and written the pilot as well. That’s what made me realize I wanted to work in entertainment, specifically in television production. I realized that I had been invested in shows in an intense manner that no one around me did: I knew actors’ names, producers, their production companies, and a million other details and bits of information not everyone feels the need to know.
Anyway, I also realized how badly I wanted to write for this show. Since the pilot aired before the summer, ideas simmered in my brain. I wrote out stories, histories for characters, hopes dreams and aspirations (let Mercedes have a voice-over! let’s have Quinn seduce Will (it works in the show)! and let’s make it so Kurt gets a boyfriend!).
Obviously, none of those came to pass. But Glee is such a strange show: its tone mutates every episode, and its plot wavers and then shoots forward. They’ve done great things, but also several things that have made me cringe. I don’t know about this show, but last night confirmed something for me.
When I first saw that Artie was played by Kevin McHale who was not really in the wheelchair, and who mentioned in interviews that he was the best dancer of the group, I knew Artie would get fantasy sequences within the show that showed him dancing. And that happened last night.
(It was an awesome sequence, and I have watched the sequence and listened to the song multiple times. It also helps there’s a Futurama gag in connection with it.
|Awesome to the Max|
Comedy Central, don’t fail me again!
But anyway, I digress.)
The ending was bittersweet, because while it was an intriguing episode, I also think it shows how wildly Glee has changed. It was a heartfelt moment, but it was weirdly unreal and real. Unreal because of the way the situation was handled–as if Artie’s parents had never consulted doctors, as if he lived being fed this hurtful type of hope, as if he only needed this bit with Tina to fully grasp the reality of his situation–and real because it showed the tragedy of his situation. But this is the second episode about Artie, and both times it’s been about his being in a wheelchair. And that made me realize something.
The main problem I have with this show is that it can’t get away from the stereotypes of the characters. Those are their only problems: Artie’s wheelchair, Mercedes’s weight (remember when she tried starving herself?), Quinn’s relationship and pregnant troubles, Kurt’s crush on Finn and pressures about his sexuality, etc. No one has problems or plotlines outside themselves–except for Finn, Will, Sue, and Rachel, the four able-bodied, skinny, straight, main characters. Rachel has a storyline about her mother, Finn about his relationship with Rachel, Will about his own psyche. Sue is the villain of the story, and her prejudices are the hilarious point about her–but she grows by learning about that contention and shows that she understands these prejudices, but also has her own ambitions.
I feel like the show is relying on the inherent rush of happiness that comes from watching people perform musical numbers (Bollywood knows what they mean) rather than actual storytelling.
In terms of what I mean by plotlines “outside” themselves, let me repost what I did on the Jezebel blog post on last night’s episode of Glee (slightly moderated for wording):
“As someone who feels like this show never got the same tone as the supremely awesome pilot (IMO, except for the episode everyone went on drugs), I knew that they chose the great dancer Kevin McHale to play Artie for that dance sequence.
Now I want him to continue to have those dance sequences and descend into dissociative identity disorder, after which he will find out Quinn’s father is a doctor and hold him hostage to get a cure.
Also I want Quinn to help him and Tina to get jealous but then it ends up that they’re both queer and they all decide to get together in a triad relationship–after Quinn’s father learns his lesson after being blackmailed to cure Artie.
Also I want Bryan Ryan to get with Emma and Will to take a vow of celibacy but then Sue is jealous of Emma and attempts to proposition Will in order to get back at them.
Finally, I want Finn to start taking classes in college to learn to be a doctor, Puck to run for student government (and plan to be president), Santana to go up against him (and win, and decide she wants to be president), Britney prepares to become a future FLOTUS by idolizing Michelle Obama, Rachel and Kurt to make a pact to make it to Broadway anyway they can (via reality show!), Mercedes to start a blog on the craziness of high school and labels and the prejudices she endures and eventually become the protege of likes of LaToya Peterson, Mike Chang to be drafted for Vocal Adrenaline, and Matt Rutherford to get a storyline as a detective (he looked good in a fedora that one time).”
Sure, it’s likely a lot of that won’t happen. But I hope something might. Plus, so many storylines for so many characters would mean that the show could last for a long, long time.
Here’s hoping–and here’s hoping it’s because they start trying something new.