Okay, Glee, we need to have a little talk.
It’s like everything is a trade off. The more balanced this show becomes in terms of tone, the more likely it is something else will crop up to leave me unsatisfied. While I was thrilled through most of last night’s episode, the further I get from it, the more I lose the glow and can’t ignore the couple things that unsettled me even at the time.
And yet, I just can’t seem to stop watching.
It’s early in the show’s career yet, after all, and with iTunes selling studio versions of the songs every week and Fox showering attention on it, I can’t imagine this is one of those shows that Fox cancels after only nine episodes, so surely Glee will be allowed the time to grow into itself as a show. So much of it what it’s doing works for it now and there are aspects in which I am convinced it is already far better than what it was only a few weeks ago.
I mean, they’ve found a way to balance Rachel and Finn against the other kids, allowing most of them a few moments in the spotlight, without losing those characters to the background. The storyline about Quinn’s pregnancy has so much potential, too. It made me want to hug Finn and enroll him in sex ed classes immediately, which I suspect is the point of the storyline in some capacity — a more subtle commentary on the state of abstinence-only education than Rachel’s outburst the other week. (Although how much did I love Rachel’s outburst? Sing it, sister. Actually, she probably will at some point.)
But as soon as Will told Terri of Quinn’s being pregnant, I was squirming in my seat, cringing with the worst kind of anticipation. Terri’s deception has made me uncomfortable from the start. While I suppose that’s the idea, that we’re not supposed to like Terri, it’s also fairly clear that this is meant to make it okay that Will is developing feelings for Emma. Alright, so he’s getting a crush. Will it also be meant as a greenlight if he acts on those feelings? And treating a deception of this level as a joke is the one area in which it feels as if this show hasn’t learned the difference between comedy and drama.
The performances remained amazing this week and I really can’t say any bad about these kids on the show. Cory Monteith is consistently adorable as Finn, sweet and good and completely believable in his slightly terrifying credulity. It was great to see Puck get some more development these last couple weeks, too (sure, his love of cougars counts. He and Josh Groban have this in common). The Quinn and Puck storyline, while it’s been done before, is intriguing, not to mention it’s already given us the line “I slept with you because you got me drunk on wine coolers and I was feeling fat that day.” It was one of those things where I laughed and then realized it was funny because it wasn’t, because this is the way things work. In this show about outsiders, it becomes ever clearer every week that it’s not just the geeks standing on the outskirts, lost and uncertain. If anything, the glee kids know who they are better than any of the others.
I was thrilled, to that end, to see this episode focus on Kurt. Chris Colfer acts the hell out of his scenes, no doubt about that. My doubt is reserved entirely for that last scene between Kurt and his father. I know I didn’t want to see Kurt pained any further, but after all we’ve heard already about his father taking away his car or the trepidation in his dad’s expression when he came down to the garage or the way he asked if any of those girls was Kurt’s girlfriend, the idea that he’s known all along just doesn’t sit quite right.
After the pain and the worry Kurt’s undergone, it seems an unnecessary truncating of the pains of coming out to one’s family. Yes, it’s lovely to see such acceptance and love on TV and Kurt’s lucky, and TV doesn’t have a responsibility to take the most difficult route. It is, however, dodging a more emotionally rewarding plotline. Extending Kurt’s struggle by having him and his dad have to work to make things right, for his dad to accept his son’s sexuality, would simply have been the richer writing choice, not to mention giving a lot of teenagers out there a story to call their own. Glossing over the difficulties of these situations makes a fairy tale of it that it simply is not for most. Besides which, it’s pretty clear that Colfer could have more than handled the emotional demands of such a storyline.
I don’t mind Rachel’s divaing out every week as much as others, not because I don’t find the Special Snowflake routine frustrating — it is, especially in a character with whom, I admit, I identified early on — but because it’s fairly clear that she’s been set up to get knocked down. The writers are praising her for being a bitch, they’re writing it to show you clearly just how bad she’s being — that her own insecurities (and the special way that becomes arrogance) are no excuse for aggravating Tina’s. I was disappointed not to see Tina really get to sing the whole “Tonight” routine with the same production the other kids have had, but it was nice to see a little more of her for once.
On the whole, I’m going to have to give this week’s episode a B-. Fewer songs and more uncomfortable storylines with less payoff undermined all the truly amazing scenes that took place. It’s become the TV equivalent of Chinese takeout — delicious, delightful and satisfying at the time of consumption, but damn, do you feel empty a couple hours later. That doesn’t mean I’m not holding out hope it won’t eventually turn into something more lasting. I’ll be right here watching every week so long as it continues to deliver that initial satisfaction.