It’s possible to appreciate the aims of Glee while critiquing the way it arrives at those aims. As an example; I very much appreciate the show’s intent to get a message out that promotes tolerance, acceptance and living life out and proud. However, it is perfectly fair for me to criticize the show failing to get this point across in a dramatically satisfying and coherent way.
Finn (Cory Monteith) in particular has arrived in his arc with Santana (Naya Rivera) with seemingly no motivation. In classically Glee fashion Finn has swung from being a borderline illiterate jock to being the most sensitive and understanding man on the planet with a modicum of dramatic build-up.
There have been times in this season when this storyline played as if Finn had been drafted at random for this storyline; as if the writers didn’t have a better plan for the character and decided to give him this story.
As for Santana, this story is perfectly natural as her dramatic arc for season three and Naya Rivera has done a phenomenal job giving the story emotional resonance. The only thing holding Rivera back are the Glee writers who have forced her story forward via a poorly motivated Finn and the ludicrous election plot.
It took super-human effort for Naya Rivera to keep this plot from devolving into ridiculousness and her performance of Constant Craving combined with the beauty of her coming out monologue opposite her grandmother have come amazingly close to rescuing the story as a whole.
Beyond saving is the Puck (Mark Salling)-Shelby (Idina Menzel)-Quinn (Dianna Agron) story which this week found Shelby giving in and sleeping with Puck. Naturally, Quinn found out about this and we will undoubtedly get a story in which Quinn attempts to blackmail Shelby with the information. The only suspense here is which Quinn the writers will choose for this story; dumb-Quinn who might be too stupid for blackmail or human Quinn; the version thatresembles a person that might actually exist.
The third track of this week’s Glee, titled “I Kissed a Girl” followed the much welcome end of the election stories. Both the Senior Class President and the congressional race came to an end this week with Brittany (Heather Morris) winning class President and Burt Hummell (Mike O’Malley) on his way to Congress.
Throw out the fact that Burt’s victory comes despite being a write in candidate with no party affliliation and a choir director for a campaign manager, this is Glee and logic need not apply. On the other hand, Brittany winning Class President made complete sense; her populist campaign was a winner from the beginning.
Of course, the series can’t resolve a storyline without screwing it up so throw in Rachel (Lea Michele) trying to rig the election for Kurt (Chris Colfer) and getting suspended. I get the dramatic complication of Rachel being suspended and prevented from competing at sectionals but the way the show arrived at her choice sucked. As has been the show’s M.O Rachel whipsaws between selfish and sensitive as she helps Kurt only out of her want to have her ‘best gay’ with her in New York next year.
Are we supposed to like Rachel or loathe her? She’s selfish and childish and out for herself one minute and yet, at the end, when Rachel is suspended, are we expected to feel sorry for her? To pity her? The show has botched Rachel’s character development so badly that it’s impossible decide whether we root for her or laugh at her misfortune.
There was a fourth story tacked on this week but since it involved Coach Beiste’s love life, including her take on Dolly Parton’s Jolene, there really isn’t much need to talk about it. It’s nothing against Dot Jones but the adults on Glee are rarely the most interesting characters and she is no exception.
This week’s music was inspired by Santana’s story. Finn brought New Directions and the Troubletones together for a joint assignment; singing songs by women about women. Finn’s balladic take on Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun was the stand-out of this set of songs, even if, as I mentioned, Finn’s motivation for the song was questionable.
The failure, surprisingly, was the most talked about of the night’s performances, the song that gave the episode its title, the Glee girls singing Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl. It’s not that it was a bad performance but rather the song flies in the face of the point the show was intending to make.
Whether intentionally or not Katy Perry‘s I Kissed a Girl goes a long way toward making the point of conservatives who argue that homosexuality is a choice. Katy Perry made a choice to kiss a girl but she’s ‘not in love tonight.’ Santana is coming out as a lesbian and while her sexual history is rather elastic she’s making a definitive statement. The song, while it may have been cute, is the opposite of a definitive statement about sexuality and what drives a person to declare a sexual preference.
If you want to argue that I am over-thinking this one song and performance, that’s fine. However, if Ryan Murphy and the writers of Glee are going to use the show as a political platform they need to be ready for just this kind of scrutiny. Otherwise, it’s just a sloppy example of using a timely topic and a popular song simply to drive ratings.
Sue Sylvester’s (Jane Lynch) list of sexual conquests:
• Todd Bridges
• Dan Quayle
• Stephen Baldwin
• Oliver North
• Matt Lauer
• Johnny Cochrane
Soundtrack for Glee “I Kissed a Girl”
Pink “Perfect” Kurt and Blaine (Darren Criss)
Melissa Etheridge “I’m the Only One” Puck
Cyndi Lauper “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” Finn
Dolly Parton “Jolene” Coach Beiste
Katy Perry “I Kissed a Girl” Santana, Rachel, Brittany, Mercedes (Amber Riley), Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) and Quinn
K.D Lang “Constant Craving” Santana and Shelby