Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Quit 'Glee' The Way 'Glee' Quit Continuity...

"Ugh, no...Your club is called New Directions. NEW!"
- My friend Jamie

My very first industry job out of college was being a Script Supervisor. Yes, nitpicking and anal retentive attention to detail landed me more than just rolled eyes but a paycheck and a short-term career in the exciting world of independent film and DIY TV. In that job, you not only have to pay attention to the dialogue actors speak in each new set-up and shot to make sure it is what is actually on the page, but you have to focus on movements and the placement of items in order to ensure they are consistent from one shot to the next. But most importantly, for a longer-term project like a television show, you have to pay attention to character traits from one episode to the next to make sure there is nothing left unexplained. Though I no longer work in this arena, there are little parts of my personality that still embody the traits. Add that together with my desire to constantly become a better writer, and I think it is officially...well, official: I can no longer watch glee.

This time last year I was still very much in the "bubble" of the series that was "unlike anything else on television." I looked forward to seeing what musical numbers the very talented kids of McKinley High's glee club would take on week after week, but more importantly, I looked forward to getting to know them all a little bit better. Only now it is a year later, and I really don't feel like I know most of them at all-- not only because only few have had front-burner storylines but also because when little bits have been revealed they have been just as quickly discounted. The show's baby-steps forward in progress are always off-set by a giant shove backwards. I don't think any two consecutive episodes better exemplify that than the last two that have aired: "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle" and "Silly Love Songs."

"The Sue Sylvester Shuffle" attempted to rewrite the history of glee while simultaneously reiterating the same damn conflict that we "met" in the pilot. Mr. Schue-- and later Finn-- ever the innocent sweetheart, wanted to bring everyone together for the big game, but once again there was tension because the big, beefy football jocks didn't want to be associated with singing or dancing or anything they see as feminine. The rules became simple: you don't perform at half-time with the glee club, you don't play in the big game. Even the football coach was willing to go along with this crazy scheme, ignoring the fact that a game this big is about more than just bragging rights for a school but could potentially mean scholarships and accolades for the kids. Making them play dress-up in the middle of it acts as its own major distraction, and those are things these kids can't afford to lose.

The same should be said for Sue's cheerleading competition. Of course the girls were going to choose to go with her: they were always Cheer-ios first. They only joined glee club to spy for Sue, and yes, they found they enjoyed it a bit more than expected, but no one, least of all Finn, should have been surprised by their true allegiances. Finn telling Quinn that she has to come back to perform because she loves it was a gross omission of the truth. Did they really think we wouldn't notice?

If you thought the first Cheer-ios number to the original recording of Katy Perry's "California Gurls" was out of place, you probably didn't last until The Blaine Show took on "Bills, Bills, Bills" out of nowhere. And that's another thing: Kurt used to be the golden boy, but it seems as if he has been replaced. Transferring to Dalton didn't merely allow Kurt to live his life comfortably, but it also appears to have allowed Ryan Murphy to push aside a character for whom he may have been running out of ideas and creativity.

Did Ryan Murphy get bored with Kurt the way he did with the Quinn and Sam relationship? Admittedly those two lovebirds are a bit vanilla for my taste, and I have never been shy about expressing my discomfort at seeing two blond people date, but Chris Colfer was supposedly his muse and his character was the one consistently interesting (and consistent in personality) part of the show. Now instead we get Blaine, who could not be more vanilla if he died his hair...and Karofsky? Karofsky who bullies, disappears, bullies and kisses Kurt, disappears, bullies, makes a fuss about wearing make-up (even if it's zombie), gives a good note about performing, and then disappears. It's hard to feel for someone's plight if they're never around.

But even more: it's hard to feel for someone's plight when they're a giant ignoramus who gets to be a part of the group even when he's a jerk and not even true to himself. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I always understood the "message"-- as much as glee has even attempted to have one-- to be that you must embrace yourself, your flaws, and your quirks and love yourself for who you are. But Karofsky does the opposite: he hides his self, he literally tries to throttle those who he deems a threat to his true self, and yet the glee club still actively convinced him to perform with them here. It's a mixed message at best, and it's unfortunate because he got to sing and dance underneath stadium lights while Kurt sat on the sidelines.

Everything about "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle" was supposed to be super-sized to go with its mega, post-Super Bowl time slot. And that's fine. There is nothing wrong with a little over-the-top gratuity every once in awhile. But when said gratuity works to undermine all of the solid character work being attempted in previous and subsequent episodes, it is a slap-- nay, a metaphorical Slushie in the face to all who come before it.

Then along came "Silly Love Songs," which picked up immediately in timeline but miles ahead in attitude of where the previous episode left off. For one thing, "innocent, sweet Finn" did an unexpected one-eighty and became kind of an egotistical douche. Suddenly he skipped confident and went straight for cocky. Maybe not Kanye cocky, but enough to decide he was going to cheat with the girl that once cheated on him-- the very thing he got so pissed at Rachel about. Enough to set up a kissing booth in the hall and charge people for what he was giving one of the biggest dorks in the school for free. Enough to think "peer pressure" would have kissing him be the new "it" thing to do in between classes. Mono is the least he deserved, and quite frankly, even if Santana wasn't scheming, mono was the obvious choice for what he was going to get. I mean, it is the "kissing disease."

Anyway, "Silly Love Songs" was like "Mystery Spot" (or Groundhog Day), in that it gave us the same old stories again and again. It did a 180 from the previous episode, but that in itself is a problem. No show should make giant sweeps in such short amount of time. It's like it can't figure out what it is, or what it wants to be. It is its own high school student in that regard. But this is mid-way through season two, so it should have it well figured out. Shows that new sooner have been canceled for way less.

The fact that Rachel constantly needs reassurance that she's a star; the fact that Kurt likes a guy who is emotionally unavailable to him; the Quinn and Finn push-pull. And it also reset the clock on Quinn in general. She started out kind of bitchy: the perfect, stuck up cheerleading do-gooder. She got knocked down a few pegs when she got pregnant, got kicked off her squad, and got stuck with the rest of New Directions. But now she is post-pregnancy, back to her starting weight, and apparently back in Sue's (somewhat) good graces. So she is free to let her inner bitch fly. And while it's nice that she's finally getting something to do, it's not like it was threaded all the way through as who she "really" is. Besides, she can be a bitch, but does she have to be a bitch who doesn't understand basic courtesies? If she wants to mess around with Finn, she can; she should just dump Sam first. And really, how hard would it be to dump Sam first? It would take two seconds (assuming she doesn't want to do it through song), and he is so vanilla, he'd probably be pretty agreeable.

Good God, what can next week bring??

But wait; there's more! Suddenly Artie and Brittany are all lovey-dovey again; Mercedes and Rachel suddenly hang out but Tina is nowhere in sight; Sam isn't nearly as mature or cool as he once seemed (but apparently assumed to be dumb like he's the male Brittany??) and gets jealous over nothing (because, you know, we have to hate him in order to root for Quinn and Finn, and apparently we are supposed to root for Quinn and Finn again); and Kurt...well, Kurt organizes a whole, really cool night, only to lose out on the solo again.

And "I spell woman Z-I-Z-E-S." Um, no one knew that was her last name, guys. No one knew she was going to be special enough to have a last name, let alone a story line. Clean up the scripts, or your Scripty can't even try to save you!

Just like I implored CBS or Warner Brothers or someone-- anyone-- in Charlie Sheen's life to stand up and tell him no for a change, such is what I am asking of those surrounding Ryan Murphy. Right now he is just doing whatever the hell he wants (and admitting it) for the sake of it. That is disrespectful to his studio, his network, and his fans. No one just seems to care because of the cash cow he has (also) become.


Jamie C. said...

Seriously, I miss Chris Colfer singing! I didn't even realize how much until you pointed it out.

And yea, quoted!

AB said...

I don't know what to make of this article. First it's Karofsky and not Kurofsky (and he's closeted! Just because the show is about embracing who you are doesn't mean that every character in it is already there). Then we knew from the first season when Lauren appeared for the first time what her last name was. Because they SAID it. And you complain that the characters don't have continuaty, I agree to that in some extent, but then you have this paragraph where you complain that Rachel constantly needs reassurance, well how is that not continuatity of character? Or Quinn's bitchy ways? She never WAS a nice person (hell she cheated before on Finn, apparently it's not that much of a problem for her. And Finn did kiss Rachel in season 1 while he was still with Quinn). Just like Finn always wanted to be the most popular guy. These things haven't changed. There are many things wrong with the show, I agree. Most of all the whole Blaine thing. I don't think the show is so bad that anyone should quit it - it's only in its second season! I think this is exactly the problem; as soon as something is not perfect, it's thrown away. I my opinion, i think this is what discontinuity and over-the-top plots as well as this constant parter change in tv shows is based on. Shows have to be scared to lose viewers, so they want to please everyone. Resulting in pleasing no one. Total fail.