Last night’s episode of Glee was a bit of a wake-up call. As I watched “Special Education,” I realised that the rag-tag group of underdogs I loved in Season 1 has morphed into a pod of quasi-schizophrenic, unlikable brats. Where is the Glee that stole our hearts—and does it still have one of its own?
I've been hesitant to air some of my Glee grievances this season, because I think a lot of critics expect too much substance from a show that devotes most of its airtime to musical performance. And by the way, Glee is still nailing most of its performances—Santana’s (Naya Rivera) rendition of “Valerie” and Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Tina’s (Jenna Ushkowitz) duet of “Dog Days Are Over” were especially killer last night. But at this point, beautiful songs like those, accompanied by the incredible dance moves of Brittany (Heather Morris) and Mike (Harry Shum Jr.), are basically distractions from the show’s ever-growing problem: inconsistency.
I’m a staunch believer in the Three Glees Theory, which posits that the show's three writers (Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan, and Brad Falchuk) all have completely different ideas of what they want the show to be, and those disparate ideas rear their ugly heads in Glee’s disjointed storyline. Think about it: The characters’ opinions and emotions have been flip-flopping all season long. Will (Matthew Morrison) used to be an inspiring leader; now he’s a selfish man-whore. Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) used to be a hilarious bully; these days she’s a misunderstood mentor. Kurt used to be a unique hero; now he’s a self-centered martyr. Only Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Blaine (Darren Criss) still seem tolerable, and that's probably because I don't know enough about them to find them annoying. If it weren’t for the singing and dancing and Sue Sylvester one-liners, I don't think I'd have a reason to tune in.
And so I long for the believable misfits from the early days, not the caricatures we’re stuck with now. What’s odd is that Glee seems to be aware of its issues, but isn't necessarily trying to fix them. Watching Will reprimand the kids for their ego-centric behavior smacked of hypocrisy, because the show lost sight of its selfless origins several episodes ago when it placed Kurt on a pedestal. Glee used to be about teamwork and balance and sacrifice and fun, but now its focus has shifted to Kurt, shiny guest-stars, selfishness, and overly preachy lessons. New Directions might've captured another trophy this year, but I'm not so sure they deserved it.
I’m not mad at Glee, but I'm disappointed. I want to see these characters grow up and help each other achieve the dreams they established in the first few episodes. Of course there will be bumps along the way, but all we've seen lately are their egos inflating and their friendships getting beaten to a superficial pulp. Unless Glee gets back to its roots, and soon, things are going to take a turn for the worse.
What did you think of last night's Glee? And what are your thoughts on the first half of the show's second season?
Follow TV.com writer Stefanie Lee on Twitter: @StefAtTVDotCom