Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Five Cents: 'Glee' Edition...

So many of glee's episodes lately seem like after-school specials, but only one character arc (and character in general) that is actually developed into an actual person. And that honor goes to young Mr. Kurt Hummel, giving the equally young Chris Colfer cause for Emmy consideration. Seemingly serious story lines, like a teenage pregnancy for Quinn, could have turned this show into more than song-and-dance camp, but for whatever reason, they get pushed aside week after week, creating inconsistent pacing and tone and making the show fall victim to the Saved by the Bell conundrum. Kurt is the one constant.

Week after week Kurt emotes and evolves-- and Colfer does a stellar job digging deeper than any other cast member is asked to-- as the people around him just try to catch up. But why the imbalance? Recently I have been thinking that it might be because Ryan Murphy's sensibilities are as a gay man for himself. Therefore, he relates more to, and has more invested in, Kurt than any of the other characters. And he wants to do right by him, his struggles, and what he is representing on a larger scale for the youth generation. Murphy may even be getting to go back and "do over" his own experiences with slightly more theatrical versions through his show.

Don't get me wrong: I don't have a problem with how much time is devoted to Kurt. I think the amount of attention he is given is perfect because his story line is handled with care and with dimension, making him feel like the only real person in a choir room of caricatures. This week's "Theatricality" episode may have toned down the level of bullying a gay kid in middle America receives, but it soared when Mike O'Malley stepped in and stood up for his son, admitting that he, too, once used the three-letter F word because he didn't know any better but he hoped today's generation was better than that. I think we all did. And this show might help more of them be comfortable-- or at least understand-- those who are "different."

I just think the show needs to flesh out its other characters as richly and as emotionally as they have done with Kurt. They are trying with Rachel and her mama drama, but that feels much more like an attempt to soften an otherwise mostly unlikable character, and there is still a long way to go before she reaches relatability.

Other small attempts have been extremely inconsistent. Glee also attempted a little earlier in the season for Puck to embrace his Jewish heritage, but that was played off for the humor instead of evolving into anything touching. Then, in this week's episode, we once again got to see a slightly more sensitive side to him when he sang to Quinn and asked to be there for the birth of their daughter. But seeing as how the mohawk is growing back in, he will undoubtedly be back to shoving people against (or in) their lockers by season's end. Which is unfortunate on many levels.

The reason so many shows that came before glee were so successful even when relying on camp and melodrama (*cough, original Melrose Place, cough*) was because it had a fair mix of the serious and the surreal. Some stories dragged on for episodes, weeks, and even months, while others (like a plane crash and presumed missing Billy and Allison) were wrapped up well within forty-four minutes. So far glee hasn't found its comfortable mix yet and is instead relying on the latter for the most part. So when a character like Kurt sees longer-term stuff, it appears like playing favorites.

I believe the cast of glee (as a whole) can do more than just sing and dance. I believe the emotions they have to tap into musically will translate over into straight dialogue. And I'd like to see more of them have a chance to showcase their abilities. They don't all have to be super serious story lines like bigotry or racial sensitivity or overcoming a handicap (though, really, why the hell don't we know more about Artie?), but the petty high school rotating couples ever episode is starting to wear really thin.

Whatever the reason Murphy and his team haven't expanded most of their characters as of yet, at least I can take comfort in the fact that with only two episodes left and being unwilling to manipulate time for the sake of story, glee will have no choice but to blow the dust off the belly bump and bring it out from the backburner…and out of its mother in general. Because, yes boys and girls, Quinn's due date is finally about to arrive! I only hope we get to see a real moment with mother, baby, and maybe even father before the show dances off into summer and tries to forget this ever even happened.

1 comment:

Jaime said...

You've hit on a lot of my complaints about the show, the major ones being the character inconsistencies and the ridiculously over the top story lines that just conclude at the end of an episode and are never touched on again. I also think you hit the nail completely on the head with why Kurt is the only character that has been (mostly) consistent and has shown any sort of growth that sticks: because he's the one character Ryan Murphy relates to.

For me, though, the only actually believable character on the show is Burt Hummel. I think Mike O'Malley deserves an Emmy - or at the very least a nomination - for his performances as Kurt's dad. He's just phenomenal. (He's also great on Parenthood! Who knew Mike O'Malley had it in him?! Make this man a star, Hollywood!).