Friday, November 15, 2013

Sorry, Glee, I'm Done.

I've finally had it. I'm done with Glee. I've been a supporter from the very beginning, and even when the writing took many dips in quality I'd hold out for the time it bounced back. I'm a loyal viewer and I don't like to bail on a show. But after last week I find I just can't do it anymore. What used to be a smart, satirical, and enjoyable show for music geeks has lost almost everything that made it special. I find now the show is nothing but pandering to its tween audience or is Ryan Murphy's big gay soapbox. It tries too hard to be "relevant", the music isn't as varied. There were always problems with the series, but now going into its fifth season those problems have taken over.

This season opened with a two-part Beatles spectacle. I love that they were finally devoting time to the Beatles, but found disappointment in the first part when only maybe one song was pre-1965. And this was supposed to be when they focused on "early Beatles". But they only did songs from Rubber Soul and Help! Beatlemania hit the U.S. back in 1964 and the Beatles released at least four albums and a movie before that point. It was just a missed opportunity in a way. Then the episode ended with Blaine proposing to Kurt and I felt like the series was treating gay marriage differently from how it treaded other marriages on the show. Now, you don't want a show to repeat itself of course. But season 3's drama toward the end was all about whether Finn and Rachel should get married. Parents were against it. Friends were against it. They were too young, they hadn't thought about their future plans, etc. While I'm sure they were just dragging things out so Finn and Rachel could get together in the series finale, there was a certain reality to that reaction. So I find it completely false that when two gay teenagers make the same decision, everybody supports it. No one questions if they are too young. And Blaine goes out of his way to make an elaborate proposal because he wants to "send a message". Look, let's not even deal with the socio-political arguments for or against homosexual marriages. This was a teenage couple being treated differently from another teenage couple and the only real difference was that one was gay. I find that inconsistent writing. The show can be tolerant and inclusive without denying all drama just to "send a message".

I didn't even watch part two.

But then we got the episode dealing with the death of Finn because of Cory Monteith's overdose. And it was a good episode. Honestly, one of the best episodes of the past few years. I was bothered by the fact that the cause of death was never mentioned in the episode. Did Finn O.D. too? We are left not knowing, and I thought that was a mistake. But it was emotional and well-written. It only took 5 years and a dead cast member before we got a Dylan song on this show ("Make You Feel My Love"), and even that I suspect was more via Joan Osborne than Dylan. This episode also addressed one of my criticisms of season 1 (or was it 2?) when Kurt's dad lashed out at Finn for using the word "faggy". It's a seminal moment on the show and while I understand where it was coming from, I always felt like he was too hard on Finn there. And now he admitted that. I really liked that moment. As always there were songs I thought would be great that weren't used (like Alanis Morissette's "Simple Together"), but I can't fault them for that. There were very nice moments for all the cast, but sadly for me it is the last gasp of greatness the show has.

Two weeks later, the next new episode premiered and boy was it a mess. The central conceit of the episode was that there are two kinds of people in the world: sweet girl-next-door types, and brash edgy types. The show defined these as "Katy Perry" and "Lady Gaga" respectively. This is wrong on so many levels. First, the show has ALREADY DONE both Katy Perry and Lady Gaga to death. When I saw the promo for the episode say, "Glee does Katy Perry and Lady Gaga!" my first thought was, "do they do anything BUT Katy and Gaga? Not these days. It was concocted just to cover/promote the new Katy Perry single, "Roar" and the recent Gaga song "Applause". Honestly, I'm thinking the record companies are pushing stuff on the writers now in some kind of weird TV karaoke payola scheme. The lack of variety and the constant push of whatever the current hit song is has reached critical mass on the show and I can't take it anymore. I don't need to hear Glee do "Call Me Maybe" or that awful Rebecca Black monstrosity. I want to hear all kinds of songs in one episode. I want to hear arrangements that even better the song, which sometimes happened in early seasons. I had forgotten that "Keep Holding On" was an Avril Lavigne song for example. The series does less and less of that now; it's just about being current and outrageous.

The second problem with the scenario is the constant characterization of Katy Perry as the epitome of the "nice girl". Katy Perry is not the girl next door. Katy Perry is the slutty babysitter. The sugary imagery of her videos may make it seem that she's just a sweety, but she's all about double-entendres and sexual experimentation. It's about making vapid bubblegum pop that's primarily suggestive. She's a singer who couldn't cut it as a Christian artist and only found success in singing about lesbian kisses and going all the way ("no regrets, just love"). And lets not forget some of her other winning lyrics ("had a menage-a-troi last Friday night", anyone?). Marley is not a Katy Perry. She's sugary in a Julie Andrews way, not in a shoot-whipped-cream-from-your-boob-cannons way. The current pop star who maybe does represent what they were talking about is Taylor Swift. And I can't remember them every doing a Taylor Swift song; this was an opportune time. The episode was poorly written from the beginning. This central theme made me so angry that as they kept trying to hammer it I found I was just yelling at the TV.

I hate the way they write Marley now, who is my favorite of the new cast members. I miss when she used to wear hats. I hate that now everything just happens to her, she's never allowed to be happy. Her character is undermined in ways Rachel never was; it feels unbalanced. The episode had the "Katy" kids do a Gaga song and the "Gaga" kids do a Katy song. But Marley refused to go along with the Gaga number, saying she couldn't compromise herself. And then she was suspended. Can you even suspend someone for not doing an assignment? What kind of bizarre school is that? I couldn't tell if she was suspended from the Glee Club or from school. It was very odd. Besides that, she may have dressed like Katy Perry, but she was gyrating on the floor, so I don't see what message that sends about not compromising yourself (meanwhile in her personal life she was being pressured into sex, which is where part of this was coming from).

I flipped over to last night's episode briefly and it was about twerking. I'm done. The show is grasping at straws of relevance at this point. I sat through all last season's "catfish" storyline even though I knew immediately who the other person was. I sat through all the heavy-handed bullying stories. But I've had it now. The show has nothing left to say. Meanwhile other characters continue to be poorly written as well. I was glad when Becky was brought on the show and that they didn't try to pander and make her the magic Down Syndrome girl, but now they just write her mean. I don't want Becky to be evil. And poor Tina is one of the original cast and she still gets almost nothing to do! She looked particularly gorgeous that last episode, but she doesn't get many solos or storylines. In fact, now it seems the only Tina stories are when they need a "why do we keep ignoring Tina?" story. And every time, it's just Tina essentially saying, "Hey, stop ignoring me!"

I've had some good memories with this series, but I think back to those first 13 episodes when I was recommending the series to people. I think it had a great pilot. I got cast autographs. But if I'm going to spend each week yelling at the TV, I can't do it anymore. I'd rather watch The Michael J. Fox Show. I'll probably pop in next season for the finale, but I've given up on regular viewership. I just can't be a cheerleader for it anymore.

Sorry Glee, I'm done.

No comments:

Post a Comment