Television: Glee - Season 2 Commentary

Note: This is a post I wrote after the first 9 or 10 episodes of the season had aired. As the season has progressed, some of what I have discussed has continued to be true (Kurt's storyline being strong, the humour failing, even more Gwenyth Paltrow at the expense of the main cast), while other things have changed (less Bieste, more Quinn, less Sam). I'll likely write a full Season 2 Review as we get to the end, but for now, this is me re-posting what I originally wrote over at SpoilerTV. Enjoy!

This morning, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about the current season of Glee. She wasn’t a huge fan of the first season, but has more recently become hooked based on the strength of Kurt’s story arc. While I truly love the direction that that portion of the show has gone, I’m not really enjoying this season of Glee to the same extent as I was enjoying the first season.

I have both been impressed with and disappointed by Glee Season 2.

I’ll start with the good stuff. I have been really into two major character arcs this season. The first is the one involving Kurt being bullied. The second is the one involving Coach Bieste being insulted continuously by the students. Both actors are phenomenal at conveying vulnerability and strength in just the right proportions, while not being extraordinarily preachy or pretentious about their respective messages. Mercedes, though a wonderful singer, has never really had the gravitas it takes to sell the heavyset woman storyline. Coach Bieste has made a wonderful addition to the cast.

At the same time, I have to ask myself what it was that initially drew me to the first season. Sure, sad episodes with touching moments cropped up (the one where we meet Sue’s sister or the one when Will finds out about the baby drama come to mind), but that’s not why I watched Glee.

I love Broadway and I love me some silly dark humour. Season 1 had those in spades. Glee didn’t take itself very seriously back then. The Kurt and Bieste storylines, though important, aren’t why I watch the show. The writing hasn’t been nearly as sharp or as clever humourwise this season. I think one problem is that Sue has been humanized a bit too much. Still, I appreciate Brittany's increased screen time and amazing one-liners.

The majority of my disappointment stems from the original cast members being snubbed in favour of guest stars and new series regulars.

Gwyneth Paltrow! Britney Spears! Carol Burnett! Katie Couric! In season 1, the guest stars were often Broadway stars. This season has given us more mainstream celebrities. Glee started off as a story about a group of misfits and yet, if we want to get meta about things, this season has tried as hard as it can to be as mainstream as possible. I understand that ratings are what matters and fans seem to crave the presence of celebrities, but why do we need a fully developed character for Gwyneth Paltrow when characters like Tina, Mercedes, and Quinn barely get any lines? That leads me to my second issue.

We already have a talented cast of characters who get little enough screen time as is. Why do we need all of these new characters?

Many of the recurring characters completely overshadow the original cast members. I mean really, does anyone like Sam? At all? Creepy promise ring proposal much? Anyway, Artie is probably the most talented male student singer they have (minus Kurt, but he sings songs well out of Artie's range anyway) and yet he never gets to sing anymore. He never does much of anything. His presence has increased in the past few episodes, but that’s arguably due to the fact that he’s dating Brittany.

Then there’s Tina. While I appreciate Mike Chang’s increased presence, it seems to be at Tina’s expense. Once she got over her stutter plot, she was given and delivered the best one-liners of last season (besides those delivered by Sue). What has she done this season? She's enjoyed being Asian and shown us that she's unabashedly shallow for a social outcast.

Finally, with Kurt being so front and centre, where on earth is Mercedes? She’s supposed to be his best friend. Where’s the dialogue between them about Kurt switching schools? Why was she so intense about praying for him when, as his best friend, she’s supposed to know him well? Instead of anything meaningful, we get Kurt chilling with Blaine and Mercedes loving Tater Tots. As friendships go, they really don't seem to have a handle on how to behave appropriately in order to make it a strong one.

This season seems to be all about sensationalism and catering to mainstream fan demands. I say that they should back off the guest stars and the fireworks in order to concentrate on the immense talent already at their disposal.

As a final note, I want to express my displeasure at finding out that Glee will likely top the Billboard Charts with more number one hits than any other group or singer in history. I think that it’s unfair to compare a huge cast of characters to the likes of The Beatles or Elvis Presley. When they broke up (or died), that was that. Glee could replace its entire cast over the course of several seasons and still be at the top of the charts. *Tangentrantover*.

Thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments :D!

- Cadence


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