When Glee returned on April 13 from a four-month hiatus, its fans (myself included) lauded the vocal talent and the snappy dialogue; its haters criticized the plot holes and over-the-top musical numbers. And many more middle-of-the-roaders (including one of our own) offered up some unsolicited advice on how to fix the show (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C). It seems that Glee's shiny, happy novelty has worn off; it's now one of the most divisive programs on television. But where is all this intense fervor coming from? Why can't everyone just let Glee be?
Yes, Glee is far from perfect, and last Tuesday's episode, "Home," proved it. Bringing back Kristin Chenoweth was pretty self-indulgent; her character, April Rhodes, was brilliant (and interesting!) in "The Rhodes Not Taken," but this time around she added nothing to the plot, save for her beautiful pipes. What's more, "Home" was heavy on the dialogue, an area where Glee often falls because most of its performers are better singers than actors. But like it or not, the show needs episodes like "Home" if it's going to accomplish its incredibly ambitious goal; can you think of another show on television that has successfully integrated musical theater and the mass-market platform of television? Because I can't.
Using cover songs instead of original scores was the show's first brilliant move; casting fresh talent instead of familiar faces was its second; and snagging Jane Lynch was its third. Sure, Ryan Murphy got in over his head when he started juggling so many different plot lines, but didn't we demand it from him? Didn't we ask for more Artie and Tina and Mercedes and Kurt and Puck and Santana and Brittany?
And why must we be so critical of Glee's cheesier lines? "I feel a duet coming on!" said April last Tuesday as she and Will launched into a very beautiful duet of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire," and I'm sure that many viewers' eyeballs rolled in unison. But have those people ever seen a musical? They're supposed to be a little campy! How would you transition from regular conversation to full-blown song?
There are so many more reasons to love Glee than to find fault with it. It's got a handle on tough topics like body image, sexuality, pregnancy, and popularity. It's got a cast full of big, beautiful voices and effortless dancers. And it's still in its first season! So let's all just sit back and enjoy the spectacle for a bit. Here are some of the interesting character developments from "Home":
1. Kurt's (Chris Colfer) get-close-to-Finn (Cory Monteith) plan backfired.
Kurt thought he could get more face time with Finn if he set up Finn's mom with his dad, but it turns out their parents really like each other, and Kurt can't exactly seduce his potential step-brother (even though his rendition of "A House is Not A Home" was a worthy effort). Plus, Mr. Hummel has taken a liking to Finn—and Kurt is jealous of their new bond.
2. Quinn (Dianna Agron) is not a huge bitch anymore.
After seeing Mercedes (Amber Riley) struggle to keep up with the dieting demands of being a Cheerio (which caused her to faint in the lunchroom), Quinn comforted her in the nurse's office and gave her the confidence to stand up for herself. Maybe all those grandmotherly teen-pregnancy clothes are having a nurturing effect on her mood.
3. Mercedes dropped the body issues.
And all in one episode. And she got to sing about it!
4. Will (Matthew Morrison) proved he's one of those guys who always needs a woman in his life.
Does he miss his ex-wife, Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig)? Does he want to hold on to Emma (Jayma Mays)? Does he dare test the waters with April? And what about that little makeout session with Shelby (Idina Menzel)? He's got four women on the hook—and no one to keep him warm at night.
5. Sue (Jane Lynch) is caught in a web of lies.
A supposedly-savvy journalist gave Sue credit for Mercedes' solo performance of "Beautiful," when in fact Sue had pressured Mercedes to lose 12 pounds in one week. While I doubt she'll own up to her onerous ways, I have a feeling that the truth will come back to Slushee her in the face.
And here are the episode's five best quotes:
5. April, to Will: "I just had a sex dream about you!"
4. Brittany, to Mercedes: "Sometimes I add a teaspoon of sand."
3. Sue, to Kurt and Mercedes: "How do you two not have a show on Bravo?"
2. Brittany, to Santana: "I'm pretty sure my cat's been reading my diary."
1. Kurt, to Finn: "I feel like the guy who set up Liza and David Gest."
What did you think of the episode? And what do you make of all the Glee talk?