September 20, 2012

Glee’s Back: Cue Internal Struggle

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I’ll admit it: I really didn’t want to watch Glee this season.

After last season’s myriad of trainwrecks — Finn outing Santana and getting praised for “helping” her, Mercedes’ only storylines ever being about her weight or ego, Kurt not getting into NYADA, Finn and Rachel’s ridiculous engagement, the horrible use of the kids who won The Glee Project, etc, I could barely bring myself to turn on the TV.

I figured since it was a new season, a few new characters and no more Finn (for now), I might be able to handle it. (Also, who can resist a good “Klaine” scene?)

The episode opens with a scene in a NYADA dance studio in which Rachel’s new dance instructor, Kate Hudson, is very tough on her, but it seems pretty stereotypical for a mean mentor. There was a moment later on where Kate Hudson’s character pours vodka into her smoothie before class and Rachel notices in class. If this becomes a storyline about this teacher’s alcoholism, they did not begin it very well. If it does not, it would just be another instance of Glee poorly setting up a dead-end storyline. Sigh.

We were also introduced to Rachel’s new love interest, who she “discovers” singing in the shower (see: Finn, Sam, etc.).

If you were expecting an incredible opening number, think again. It was just “Call Me Maybe,” probably the most overplayed song of the past six months. It was not even that good, and considering they were competing to be the “New Rachel,” you’d think the opening number of the season would have been a lot better. Again, sigh.

They introduced a new character, Marley — who I really like and whose mom happens to be the overweight cafeteria lady everyone makes fun of — and she turns out to be the “New Rachel.” She sings Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” as a duet with Rachel, who is singing it in a NYADA class. I actually thought this number was spectacular, despite the corniness of Rachel singing a song about New York in her class in New York (not even the first time Glee has done this).

Unexpectedly, there were some moments in this episode that tugged at my heart a little bit.

Sue Sylvester — who I usually think is way over the top — adopts a baby with Down syndrome, and it is handled it really well (surprisingly). Sue’s storylines are usually offensive, and I was impressed with how delicately and sweetly they treated this situation.

Kurt and Blaine obviously had their sweet scenes, and Blaine’s rendition of “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons was heart-stopping.

The thing that really irked me about this episode was the treatment of Wade, the character from last season who cross-dresses as a fabulous girl named Unique. When the glee kids sit down at the popular lunch table, they tell Unique he should maybe dress as Wade instead so he doesn’t embarrass himself in front of the “cool kids.”  So much of this show is about being who you are and being unique, and yet as soon as some of the characters get “popular,” they forget about all of that? Triple sigh.

So, I watched Glee. I think I will always have my issues with it, but this season does seem a bit more promising than the last.

And it did leave me with some things to think about: Is this double standard of “acceptance” present here at Cornell too? How often are you hypocritical about the messages you preach? Is every cute love interest discovered singing in the shower?

Sigh. And that’s what you missed…on GLEE! (Did you sing that? I did…)

Original Author: Samantha Weisman