This year, I did something I rarely do — I gave up on a television show. As someone who claims to watch all the TV, it takes a lot for me to place a show on the chopping block. Typically, it has to repeatedly offend me or leave me fuming at episode’s end week after week before I decide it isn’t worth my time. This TV season, “Glee” finally got the axe.
Let’s be honest, “Glee” frustrated me before this season even began, but I held out hope that it would improve. After the season three premiere, I decided I’d had enough of Ryan Murphy and his show from hell (nope, I’m not talking about “American Horror Story”). But when this season’s Christmas episode received an ‘F’ from A.V. Club critic Todd VanDerWerff (a grade I’ve only seen once before … coincidentally, also for an episode of “Glee”), I was so shocked “Glee” had managed to further decline that I had to go back and watch what I’d missed. Sure enough, I was met with the show’s trademark incoherency and idiocy.
But what kills me the most is that “Glee” hasn’t always been this horrible. When it first began, it was a show about a group of misfits longing for acceptance and a man struggling to hold onto his youth and mend a failing marriage. Where did it all go so wrong?
Sure, the “misfits” of McKinley High are played by an unrealistically beautiful cast, but I was willing to let that slide. “Glee” is, after all, musical theater on television, not a realistic exposé of high school life. The glee club could burst out in harmonized song and synchronized dance, backed by a full band, all without a single piece of sheet music, and I wasn’t going to question it.
As the first season progressed, more and more continuity problems arose, and I couldn’t give the it’s-musical-theater free pass to the writers anymore. Quinn (Dianna Agron) is kicked out of her house, then kicked out of Finn’s (Cory Monteith) house, then the writers don’t bother explaining where she’s living, so I would assume she’s homeless. But it turns out she’s living with Puck (Mark Salling), and then is eventually invited to live with Mercedes (Amber Riley) in an episode that makes Quinn-Mercedes look like the ultimate best-friendship — almost making you forget that it has never before been established that these two even like each other. So that’s what you missed on “Glee?”
In its second season, “Glee” jumped from one underdeveloped story to the next, switching tone and focus so often that it was like a perpetual drunken stumble leading nowhere. Speaking of drunken stumbles, remember that one episode “Glee” did about teen drinking in which all of the kids basically became little alcoholics overnight? I wish I could say that was the show’s dumbest move in season two, but alas, I don’t think it even makes the top five.
“Blame It on the Alcohol” actually looks like a masterpiece of an episode compared to “The Rocky Horror Glee Show.” In this disaster, Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) is officially established as the worst character on television. By this point, Will only cares about himself, and is using the kids to further his own goals. He’s pathetic, preachy, and frankly, a little creepy.
Will’s irredeemability should have been enough for me to quit “Glee” in its second season, but I kept grasping at the few things I still enjoyed about it. Those few things can be succinctly summed up with a single name: Santana (Naya Rivera). The only strong female character on “Glee” can be a bitch, but she can also be a caring friend and show moving moments of vulnerability. When she started questioning her sexuality midway through season two, her arc had the potential to be one of the most poignant stories the show had ever tackled.
In usual “Glee” fashion, the writers messed it all up. This season, after the other girls of the glee club stick up for Santana, they all burst out in a chorus of “I Kissed a Girl.” Yes, they followed a scene meant to indicate that being a lesbian isn’t a choice Santana made with a song all about straight girls making out with other girls for funsies. For being a show that supposedly champions gay teen story lines, “Glee” is really missing the mark.
Ultimately, the greatest failure of “Glee” is its inability to adapt. Sue (Jane Lynch) is still trying to destroy the glee club, Will’s still the worst, and these kids still care more about popularity than supporting each other. And I can’t help but notice the lack of glee this season. None of these characters are happy. I thought this show was supposed to explore serious issues and provide some musical escapist fun.
I think this is the end for “Glee” and me … again. Though I used to be a bona fide “gleek,” our relationship has become far too tumultuous to be healthy. Full disclosure: I’ll probably never stop listening to Matthew Morrison and Neil Patrick Harris’s version of “Dream On” or Naya Rivera’s original hit “Trouty Mouth,” but in all other respects, I’m officially severing ties.