Yesterday I was one of around 640,000 people in the UK to watch the first episode of the new season of Glee. Today, while I regret nothing in the face of journalistic integrity and cultural curiosity, I may yet demur on deciding to make this a thing that I will presumably do on a regular basis.
First off, Glee is not a bad show. It is aware of itself almost to a fault, but even for someone who admittedly didn’t see a lot of the last season I don’t feel totally left behind by the in-jokes. In the grand scheme, there are so very many police procedurals, melodramas, sit-coms, semi-scripted reality shows etc that never come close to Glee‘s good humour and general right-headedness. It’s a show with a social conscience and a moral core, and even if it often wields these things with a ham fist, the fact that they are present at all forgives many minor sins.
That said, the first episode is a mixed bag. Spoilers ahead you guys, lots of spoilers.
New series, old set-up, the guy with the microphone is running around asking the cast what their character’s motivation is for the new season/year. A few characters have left, so I’m expecting this episode will involve recruitment shenanigans as this is something that Glee is just tickled pink about doing constantly.
To recap: Chord Overstreet and his lips have left forever; Mercedes is dating a football player who on no account will turn out to have a voice that makes angels weep into their holy soup; are Santana and Brittany dating? I don’t know and neither does Glee; Lauren has dumped Puck because of reasons; Lea Michele and Chris Colfer want a career on Broadway and we all drown in a flood of meta; Quinn got hit by a truck full of the 90s but she’s making some laugh milage out of it so that’s good; Finn is having a midlife crisis; Mr Schu and the pixie teacher are living together now but I’m not touching that one because gross.
Sue Sylvester has kind of a heavy workload being the character who brings the funny to almost every scene, and after hosting the Emmys is one of the big draws to the show. She has some pretty excellent lines that continue Glee‘s proud tradition of being tremendously self-aware and engaged with the fanbase. Actually it strikes me that this episode was about 75% throwaway lines hauled along by a plot that can be summarised thusly:
- Glee club is under threat of being shut down, to combat this they must prove they are worth keeping by singing better than ever and winning the Glee World Cup.
Sue is running for Congress, which has the potential to be pretty cutting once the Presidential race gets seriously underway in the States. Will Glee be the new West Wing? One way to find out! She is threatening to cut all funding to the arts until all children can read to an acceptable standard, which is an odd policy but I guess that’s the joke? Mr Schu’s editorial rebuttal is that kids in the arts record the lowest level of substance abuse and I think I would like to challenge that. Maybe humanities graduates are different in the States? Later Schu also quotes JFK, saying “the arts are the roots of our culture”, which probably made as much sense then as it does now.
There are a few really good moments in the episode – Kurt and Blaine are definitely The Cutest, Kurt and Lea Michele going to an audition and having A BREAKDOWN upon meeting thirty versions of themselves is pretty funny, and their talk in the car afterwards is one of the better-handled scenes. Also good to see the return of If You Cry In A Car On TV The Sky Cries All Over You. And everything that Brittany says is perfect. More Brittany please.
The show concludes with Santana being banned because she is disloyal to Glee Club, so she won’t be right back in the next episode, and Molly RingQuinn watching the final song/dance number like Angelina Jolie in Hackers. The end.
So not bad, not great, a solid B. Some of this episode had a same-old kind of feel to it, but pointing out that for a lot of the characters this would be their final year adds a nice layer of urgency to proceedings. There are a few points and people left out for brevity’s sake who may become important next time round, but I will leave that to your independent learning classes.
Tune in next time for more Glee round up. Same time, same place, same join the discussion below.