Why GLEE May Not Be As Great As You Think


While waiting for the second half of GLEE’s freshman season to start, I can’t help but feeling like Sue Sylvester, sitting on the sidelines judging what we’ve seen so far and muttering, “Sloppy, babies!”

It’s not that GLEE isn’t one of the best new shows of the season, or that it isn’t wildly entertaining. It’s just that… well, if these crazy kids want to to take Best Of Show, they’re gonna need to shape up before regionals. Which shouldn’t be hard. (You want hard? Try living with a face full of liver spots!) The pieces are all in place… they just need a steadier hand to guide them. Because for the most part, the trouble with GLEE can be traced to the writing staff and its lack of focus which has led to rushed storylines and a lack of clear rooting value where the various romances are concerned.

Take, for example, the tale of our pregnant cheerleader, Quinn. She was booted from her home and moved in with Finn and his mom after her baby drama was revealed to all. But where is she living now that Finn knows he’s not the babydaddy? And why has Mr. Schuester – fully aware that Quinn was going to hand her baby over to his shrewish wife – not confronted the teen mom-to-be? Are we supposed to root for her and Finn to kiss and make-up… or are we to buy into the chemistry Quinn shares with Puck… who also had great chemistry with Rachel? This could be the kind of compelling drama soaps – and primetime dramas such as GREY’S ANATOMY – get a lot of mileage out of. But because the writers seem to veer direction wildly from week to week, we’re left with a bad case of whiplash instead of a good sense of what these characters might really want.

Worse, the first half of the season rushed through a year or more worth of plot. What was the point of the babyswitch plot if Terry was going to be exposed this soon? Why give Sue a one-episode love interest? And why allow Emma and Will to come together in the fall season finale, which wound up feeling more like a series finale thanks to all the happy endings thrown into the mix.

The same hodge-podge approach is often taken to the musical numbers. Some episodes have characters breaking into song every five minutes while others it feels as if the writers were working overtime to figure out how to cram a tune or two into the hour.

GLEE is, without a doubt, one of the most original, creative, joyous shows to ever hit the airwaves. It has hooked us with its incredibly appealing cast and infectious musical numbers, but between now and regionals, we’re going to need the show to get away from the fast-paced, uneven storytelling that is co-creator Ryan Murphy’s trademark (as evidenced by the past few seasons of NIP/TUCK) and trust that if they slow things down and give us time to care about both the tales and the romances, we won’t use that as an opportunity to change channels.

And that’s not just how Sue C’s it!

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  • bws

    About time someone had the cajones to say it! “Glee” is new/fun/joyous but not always good. The stories/writing/plot are really weak. We tend to to overlook it because of the songs. (OMG! ITUNES! SINGING!) For me, sometimes the songs take me out of the show, just thrown in because they only had 20 minutes of story for a 42 minute show. Obviously, Jane Lynch is a bright spot but part of that is just the shock value. Yes, it is better than most of the dreck out there and I applaud FOX for taking a gamble with Glee (and heartily supporting it) but I’m demanding improvement in the back 9. Quit using the songs and Sue’s caustic comments as crutches!

  • Ren

    Of course Glee rushed through all the storylines because the shows creators didn’t know whether the show would be a hit, they just about wraped up the 13th episode when the second episode premiered on TV.

    So of course not everything can be explained, how were they suppose to know the show was going to be a success. And it is a great show, for the first 13 episodes it’s been amazing!

  • ct

    Yeah! What BWS said!

  • J

    I agree that Glee is good but overrated, but I disagree on the storylines being wrapped up quickly. I think that’s a good thing. Too many shows drag out storylines forever until they are well past their prime, so I liked that Glee wrapped up the big ones after the first 13 episodes. And when they are as ridiculous as someone faking being pregnant or thinking they got a girl pregnant without actually having sex, they can’t be dragged out for an entire season. As it is, they made Finn and Will both look like huge idiots.

    I would say Glee’s competitors, Modern Family and Cougar Town, are far better and funnier freshman shows.

  • Ace

    I love Glee for its uniqueness and I think the creators have already said they intend to address a lot of these problems. My only fear is that they will try to overcompensate. Like some people said they wanted more musical numbers per episode and the creators have said there will be at least 10 songs an episode now. That seems like a lot…

    Does anyone know what Fox plans to do w/ the DVD sets? They just relased the first half of the season, so will they release the second half in another box set? That seems kind of odd and HBO like.

  • kevin

    i agree with the TVaddict on this. it’s entertaining, but it’s not as good as a lot of fans are making it out to be. some of the music is really great, and some of it is just half-assed and often times you can tell where the music’s been overdubbed and auto-tuned. the plots are ok, but the fake pregnancy thing went on way too long, and the plots are often recycled from week to week. it literally seemed like every other week was some form of “who will rachel fall madly in love with this week?” or “oh no, the glee kids are losers, but there’s a popular kid in the club as well!”

    what made the show work for me was the interaction between the characters and every thing jane lynch did.

    also, keep in mind that the chances of this getting picked up for a full season prior to the airing of the first episode probably seemed slim; so the writers had to cram an entire story into 13 episodes. i’m interested to see how things will go since they’ll be back for the rest of this, and probably next, season as well.

  • Megan

    I love Glee. I will admit that it has room for improvement but I think you’re being a bit hard on the show. The writers didn’t know they’d get picked up for more episodes so they did for us fans what few writers have done before which is given us some conclusions.

  • ct

    So if I’m understanding what some of you are saying, the writers of Glee are to be “cut slack” for not having enough faith in their show to believe that it would get picked up?

    Sorry, but if you don’t have faith in your show, you don’t start telling storylines that need time to be told. And let’s not forget that this show was being aired on FOX, which has never, ever in its history had a problem starting a show with continuing storylines and then just dropping the show entirely without resolution. REUNION, anyone? Or perhaps DRIVE?

    It’s also worth noting that LONG before they filmed the episodes in which storylines were suddenly wrapped up or made HUGE strides forward, they knew they had a huge hit on their hand and would be picked up. In fact, there was VERY little doubt about the show getting picked up from the moment it first aired as a “preview” several months before its next episode aired.

    Ryan Murphy has a history of this kind of storytelling. NIP/TUCK has told overly-dramatic, extremely rushed stories for years. Look at the recent arc in which Sean married a psycho about two seconds after meeting her. And that’s a show that KNEW it had plenty of time in which to tell its stories.

    Let’s not forgive horrifically uneven, rushed storytelling simply because the show entertains on other levels. It’s OKAY to admit that a show we love has some pretty big flaws. TRUE BLOOD is one of my personal favorites, but the MaryAnne story last year was just a great, big, honkin’ mess.

  • Aye, Glee is entertaining, but is it well-done? Not always. I think the song-factor makes it easy to skate past the sloppy storylines and lack of character development.

    I agree that while I will be enjoying Glee come April, I am hoping for a better sense of direction now that it seems to be secure at least for the time being.

    Perhaps without the fear of cancellation, Glee can sing on with better pacing.

  • Jann M

    I think that Glee’s show runners tied up some of the weaker plot lines (crazy wife faking pregnancy, wimpy teacher going to marry one teacher while being in love with another married teacher) to clear the slate and hopefully develop actually interesting story lines for the second part of the season. I know that the crazy wife story line DROVE ME CRAZY almost to the point of no longer watching the show and I for one am very glad they are done with that one. Hopefully we can get a little character development along with the great (and sometimes not so great) musical numbers.

  • I’ve felt the Glee has had some major problems with plot in the past, but then I run into diehard fans who care very little about details like that. But I have noticed in this hiatus that even those fans are starting to waver in their devotion to the show. I find it interesting that now that we’re not watching new episodes every week, people are starting to remove the glitter from their vision and see the show in a different, more critical way. Nice post.

  • luis o

    yeah anyways glee rocks!!

  • I only read two TV blogs, so I’m pretty sure I’ve seen stuff here complaining about the fake pregnancy storyline being dragged out without Will finding out…and now you’re saying it was too soon? I find that amusing.

    I disagree about the “Will not confronting Quinn” part. He asked what she planned to do about not really having a baby, and she just said Quinn Fabre. That doesn’t say anything about HOW. Maybe she intended to steal the baby! Even if Will gets what she meant, how is he supposed to “confront” Quinn? This isn’t about her at all. It’s about Will and Teri’s marriage falling apart.

    Anyway, I’m not going to try to claim the writing is always great. Some episodes I’ve come away feeling only okay about them. But I’ve never felt the need to nitpick it or criticize it. It gives me joy every week, in some way or another, and that’s all I need. 🙂

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