Glee "New New York" Review: Appreciating the Realness
Glee made its full-time move to the Big Apple this week, and while the voiceover in the "That's what you missed on Glee!" segment—with its odd focus on Mr. Schue's post-McKinley career—made me wonder if we won't be back in Lima in some capacity eventually, Ohio's newest refugees are finding themselves in surprising places. The result is a show that suddenly feels exciting, fresh, and BIG.
I have a confession to make: DVR is my precious and sometimes, if I'm watching Glee on a delay and a musical routine doesn't snag me right away, I totally fast forward because ain't nobody got time to waste sitting through songs they don't like and choreography that mostly consists of sitting in a bland beige choir room while the camera pans to all the smiling, lip-syncing faces. "New New York" was the first episode in a long while where the urge didn't rise at least once. Not once. The performances felt sophisticated and glamorous and fun with their extended dance sequences, toned-down color schemes, and sweeping scenery. This is everything I thought New York was supposed to be when I myself was but a hopelessly tone-deaf musical geek at my bumfuck meth-ville high school. I know better now. Yes, the city kind of smells and getting around can be a migraine and this one time we got lost on the subway and it sucked and there were tears, but all that came later—and for Artie and Sam it came a little sooner that that—but you never forget the first time you step into Times Square and think you made it.
And in retrospect, getting lost and ending up well off the beaten Zagat's path was awesome.
I have no doubt that the endgame for Kurt, Rachel, Blaine, Mercedes, Sam, and Artie (and everyone else, when they inevitably show up) is happy ever after (though I was wrong about New Directions being saved, so who knows WTF is going to happen). But in the meantime, Glee's new direction appears to involve bumpier roads than its key players are accustomed to—and that's great. I know we're all still a little conflicted about the How I Met Your Mother finale, but regardless of how we feel about where everyone ended up, I think we can certainly appreciate the notion that the most important part of any destiny is the journey, the how, more than the where. With adulthood staring most of McKinley's star pupils in the face, many of them are just now realizing that yes, their time in Lima was a means to and end, a journey from point A to point B, but their stories are far from complete. Yes, Rachel is on the verge of Broadway stardom, Kurt and Blaine are living the Bohemian dream in Bushwick, and Sam cut his hair and got a job, but those destinations are merely layovers until the next leg of their respective trips—trips that, in actuality, have already started without them. That's the scary part about life after high school: the wide-open potential of it. Sometimes, that kind of freedom can feel more like a burden than a blessing. For many of the New Direction-ers, there was only one true route out of Lima: via New York. Now that they've arrived, they see that there are more roads in, out, and all around than they thought, and it's overwhelming.
Still, our fledgling New Yorkers have just about everything they could want. Even Kurt and Blaine's vocal disappointment with their less-than-swanky digs was constantly usurped by the attitude that the apartment itself doesn't matter because they're in New York and they're at NYADA and they're getting gay-married and life is great... so it very quickly began to fall apart, through no fault of anyone, really. I'm not the only person who's pointed out the delirious WTF-ery of Blaine and Kurt's relationship in recent seasons; it's been so shallow and contrived for so long, with Blaine and Kurt being reduced to primetime television's poster boys for progressive marriage politics. In theory there's nothing wrong with that, but as Glee has become a caricature of its former self, so have some of its best messages. Representation is important, and there was a time when Glee really was a groundbreaking, trailblazing show in that respect. But then we get into the old "quality versus quantity" debate and, well, you can see the problem.
There was also a time when Blaine's paranoia and Kurt's anal-retentiveness and their shared inability to communicate with each other about the realities of sustaining a long and successful relationship would have driven them apart; in fact, it has driven them apart. That Glee took the time to clarify that Blaine moving out of the loft is not a break-up, but a natural and mature response to the realization that maaaaaybe he and Hummel didn't think their co-habitation through and that doesn't meant that they aren't totally soulmates and future husbands and perfect for one another was thoughtful and, more importantly, it was real. The PSA mentality is ingrained in every fiber of Glee's showtune-spouting soul, and it's been pretty obnoxious about its messaging in the past, but the move to New York revealed a new (or maybe vintage, if we compare recent episodes to Season 1 episodes) subtlety to the preaching.
Sam and Artie's stories could have been equally explicit and admittedly, Artie's flirted with the line between tugging on the ticker and tugging on the gag reflex—but that's the price of sharing a storyline with Rachel, who managed to turn Artie's very serious concerns about his safety in the subway into a means of rediscovering her gritty starving artist side so that she feels less like the poser that she is.
Sam's brief stay at the supermodel halfway house, however, could have gotten really annoying about the dark side of professional modeling—and maybe it still will, and maybe it should—but for now, the fact that Sam handled the situation without turning it into a full-blown morality play is a testament to Glee's new grown-up approach.
Anyway, the move has been made and the gang is (mostly) together and they mostly have it together despite the inherent panic that dominates those first few months after high school—or, you know, the rest of your life. Overall, the kids are alright, and it's becoming increasingly clear that those "kids" aren't really kids anymore at all.
– Playlist o' the week: You know? I actually kind of liked everything.
– "HEY, I'M ROLLIN' HERE!" Yessss Artie sass. <3
– Yeah, macing a dude on a crowded subway car, I'm sure that ended well for everyone.
– I think Glee is turning me into an actual Adam Lambert fan as opposed to someone who neither liked nor disliked him, and I don't know how I feel about it.
– Really sad we didn't get to see Blaine or Sam in the man-bootie boxers.
– So how long until Mercedes and Sam hook up, do you think?
– So many STFU RACHEL moments this week. So many.
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