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Glee: A Solid End

Glee Season 2 has come to an anti-climactic end with the solid defeat of New Directions at Nationals in New York (called it!), the budding and/or rebirth of two relationships (Finn and Rachel, which was expected; and Sam and Mercedes, which was definitely not), and the hasty wrap up of a couple different storylines (Sunshine Corazon, Schue going to Broadway, Brittany/Santana). But now that the season has come to an end, I think it’s pretty clear that there have been some distinct winners and some distinct losers this season, for some rather obvious reasons. To wit:

The winners of this season: the tertiary characters of last season.

Remember when Brittany and Santana were merely saboteurs, sidekicks to Quinn, sent by Sue to destroy the Glee club from the inside? My, how things have changed. Besides being easily the funniest part of the show—Brittany’s deadpan and Santana’s quicksilver tongue are hilarious—these two girls now have fully fleshed-out and intriguing storylines, and are an absolute joy to watch. Santana is no longer just the sassy latina; she’s intelligent, amazingly articulate, a leader, and is now dealing with coming out as a lesbian. And as for Brittany, her character isn’t a dumb blonde; she merely sees the world in a different and completely wonderful way. She’s carrying and compassionate, and she’s demonstrated that she is by far the most intuitive and emotionally understanding character on the show. And these girls’ relationship, while hard to define, is equally great; on what other show about the politics of high school are you going to see two girls in the hallway affirming each other instead of calling each other sluts? Plus, Naya Rivera and Heather Morris are incredibly engaging to watch. Santana’s rendition of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black easily should have won that diva-off in“Funeral” and it’s sad to say, but watching Brittany sing “My Cup” was probably the most likeable part of last week’s finale. It’s great to have these two girls there to distract from the ongoing Finn/Quinn/Rachel love triangle, because they’re actually, you know, interesting.

And then there’s Kurt, who was a winning and emotional part of the first season, but really became a driving force this season with the bullying he faced and his relationship with Blaine. Of course Kurt isn’t the best character ever(he’s at times one-dimensional and sometimes a bit whiny), and of course the gay community will always offer criticism because no character can ever fully represent such a diverse group, but Kurt’s struggles with bullying and the slow build-up to his relationship with Blaine were honest, interesting, and a large part of why we tuned inevery week. I challenge the writers to give Kurt some flaws in the next season (a little more depth would be a more positive representation of the gay community, I think), but I appreciate that they’ve created a gay character who is honest-to-goodness just happy, with a supportive parent, a loving boyfriend, and friends who care about him. It’s hopeful, which, really, is what Glee is all about.

And now, the losers of this season: the men.

I think it hit me when I was watching Schu sing that song from his own LP in that empty theatre: the men on this show are boring. Schu is now irredeemable (I hated when he acted like a child at the beginning of the season; I hate how sickly sweet he is now that he’s grown up again, and all of his storylines and love interests are uninteresting to me); Mike can’t sing; Puck has lost his badassery; Sam has no character traits that I can discern; and Artie is so focused on Brittany that he’s lost without her. (When I made that list of characters just now, I forgot Finn. That’s how beige he has become.) There’s a whole lot of boy-band-esque singing, a bunch of Jack-Johnson-like guitar playing, some classic rock appreciating, and a bit of falsetto, but there’s not a whole lot of performing. I’m tired of Schu’s ballads. I’m tired of Puck’s watered-down rockabilly. I’m tired of Kurt’s falsetto (because, I’m sorry, but Jesse St. James was right: Kurt just cannot fill the high heels of powerful women like Merman, LuPone, and Bernadette). I’m even tried of Artie’s rapping. And I don’t understand why, on a show with such a wide range of female talent, there can be such a lackluster cast of men. What I want from next season is a Nathan Lane, or a Kelsey Grammer, a man with presence, panache, and performance. And no, that doesn’t mean Jesse St. James.

But for a season that suffered a terrible start, this year has delivered with quality storylines, interesting characters, good music, and hilarious dialogue. And if the (kind of lackluster) season finale did one thing right, it’s this: I cannot wait for season 3 to start.

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  1. Blogger Jeffery Blackwell | 10:57 PM |  

    I second the longing for a stronger male lead - either a literate guy like Frasier, and/or a clueless/understanding guy like Craig Nelson from Parenthood or that other guy from the show about families (Modern Family). I disliked all of these shows (especially Glee) because of the stereotypical characters. Now I get it. I guess.

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