Was "Funeral" Glee's Worst Episode Ever?

I’m still trying to figure out why, after two excellent episodes that wove great musical performances into strong plotting, Glee went in the direction it did with last night’s downer, “Funeral.” The best I can come up with was: 1) The writers realized they hadn’t done a funeral episode yet, and 2) they wanted to write Jean, Sue’s sister with Down's syndrome, out of the series. So they killed two birds (including Jean) with one stone, in an episode that felt both emotionally manipulative and incredibly flat. It was bad. Really bad. Maybe the worst Glee ever.

Jean has always made me uneasy as a character, not because of her handicap, but because I've felt she existed as a device more than anything—to humanize a character who's become comically evil and grotesque. BUT THAT’S WHAT’S GREAT ABOUT SUE. And "Funeral" began with the Sue we know and love—giving a nerdy kid a racist nickname as he broke into the principal’s email account, so Sue could divert the glee club’s flight to Libya. LIBYA. She wants to kill the Gleesters. Kill them dead.

But things took a new direction (pun intended) when Sue dismissed Becky from her henchgirl duties, devastating the show’s other Down’s syndrome-afflicted character. That sent Becky and her mom to Mr. Schue, asking if Becky might join the misfits over there. And Mr. Schue said no! Wow. Just wow. What an a-hole. Like, REALLY, Mr. Schue? There’s nothing Becky can do for glee club? Costume inventory? Sets? Shake a maraca? Nothing? Okay, dude. Real prince you are.

Which isn’t to say Schue didn’t have a speech in him, though. He did! He confronted Sue, who then launched into the first of many monologues about her sister’s passing. It was written okay and Jane Lynch did a good job with it because she’s a great actress. That’s not the problem. The problem is that it was manipulative, and just a little out of character—considering that a few minutes before, Sue was plotting to have the entire glee club kidnapped and/or killed.

Meanwhile, newly hired choir consultant Jesse St. James and Mr. Schue were auditioning to be the featured soloist at Nationals in New York. Four songs—by Santana, Mercedes, Kurt, and, finally, Rachel—were squeezed into this sequence. Jesse criticized all of the performances (and rightly so), except Rachel’s (wrongly so). The songs here were rushed and terrible—particularly Kurt singing “Some People” from Gypsy. I was sure Jesse would have cut him off a few notes in, Simon Cowell-style, but he let him finish. Gah.

Sue agreed to let Kurt and Finn help her go through her late sister's things, whereupon they learned that Jean’s favorite movie was Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. This plot point lead to just about the most icky and unsettling performance of “Pure Imagination” you’ll ever see, performed at Jean’s funeral. The casket was surrounded by those paper-mache candy mushrooms and trees from the movie. Treacly, sickly sentimental stuff. Massive misfire.

Some more stuff happened after that, but who cares? I think Finn broke up with Quinn in the car. They’ve really milked blood from a stone with that triangle. I could not have been less invested. In what passes for a cliffhanger, Quinn hinted she has something planned for New York. The newly neutered Sue admitted to Schue that she was going to send the glee club to their certain deaths in Libya, but since they put on a nice funeral, she decided against it. Schue’s crazy ex made peace with him and said she’s moving to Miami, but before she set off she had time to make note of how friendly and clean American Airlines is. (I’m sure no one paid for that, no sir!) Finally, Sue gave Becky her job back and hugged her.

The thing is, a funeral episode could have actually worked! They’d have needed to kill off a character we actually care about—Emma's got my vote, because she continually contributes nothing to the series—and chosen funereal songs with an emotional punch.

A few that immediately come to mind:


“The Funeral,” by Band of Horses


Anything from Arcade Fire’s seminal album, "Funeral"
“Wake Up” would be good.


“Wish You Were Here,” by Pink Floyd


“I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” by Death Cab For Cutie


Those songs would have been great! But no, we got “Some People” and “Pure Imagination.” What were the writers thinking? Worst. Episode. Ever.


What'd YOU think?

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Jun 07, 2011
i didn't think it was the worst episode ever, i mean it wasn't the best episode but it was still good. i personally liked their version of pure imagination and the funeral was sweet. The break up in the car was kinda stupid coz quinn was trying to undermine finn and be like this relationship doesn't end till i say it does or until we win prom king and queen. i also loved santana, kurt, mercedes and rachel's solo's.
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May 25, 2011
I loved the episode. I guess I like treacly. Hated Jesse. He needs to go-now. The longer this group is together,the more warm and fuzzy they will gey. Get used to it or get over it. I will miss Jean.
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May 22, 2011
I actually liked the episode too. You cannot always have happy moments, it is a TV drama, you have to show all aspects of emotion. I think true Glee fans would stick by their series. If you are new to the show, it might have been a turn off however, I think it was a good episode. I appreciate your suggestions for songs below however I think their song choice of 'pure imagination' was perfect!
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May 21, 2011
I actually loved this episode. A lot of the things you complained about were incredibly stupid and mundane to me...but u are entitled to your opinion.

quite frankly, its obvious u are not a true fan
it's not like Price who reviews Vampire Diaries(mocking it) but is a fan still.
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May 21, 2011
Mike, you might want to stop watching bud...As long as Kurt is on the show
there will always be a gay theme...Especially now that Santana is a Lesbian
and Blaine is joining next season

GET OVER IT, THANKS :)
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May 20, 2011
\"Rushed and terrible\" ???????????????????? **** YOU! That was Lea\'s BEST performance! Shut up you whiny **** one gives two **** what you have to say!!!
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May 20, 2011
Meh, no worse or better than it's ever been. Glee has always been awkward and weird AND very manipulative. If I wanted to see someone fake the pregnancy to keep her boyfriend (season 1) I'd go back to watching my Soap Opera. Most of these characters are caricatures and over the top. So it makes sense that they would humanize Sue by killing off her Down-syndrome sister. See, Soap Opera.
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May 20, 2011
@Angelica: my point was that there's a stark difference between the WAY Glee approached character death and the (much more successful, in my opinion) way BtVS did. Glee's seemed so maudlin, uninspired, and done-it-before, where BtVS was very visceral, realistic, and gut-punching (as most deaths are). I realize the two are very different shows, but that doesn't mean quality comparisons can't be made, does it?
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May 20, 2011
I enjoyed the show. I was sad when Jean died. It was much better than you gave them credit for.
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May 20, 2011
The songs you recommend are way too cool for Glee.Anyway i agree,the episode was rubbish.
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May 20, 2011
you know it's a TV series?, do not have to create perfect characters to do good things and care about others is true that some characters are boring, and many of them contradictory, but this is how we are in real life we often do something and then we repent. This season was not as good as before, but this episode has been one of the few who have had a good story, the songs were not very good, but the story itself. I just hope the final episode that much better than everything we've seen so far and that next season will give more importance to characters like Artie, Mercedes and Tina and many choose not commercial songs but songs of quality.
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May 20, 2011
I didn't one hundred percent love this epi mainly bc I though one of the main characters was gonna die ( Santana ), but I LOVE Willy Wonka and any excuse to sing pure imagination ( my fav song) is a good one for me.
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May 20, 2011
wonderful
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May 19, 2011
Not sure why people are honestly comparing Buffy to Glee. First of all, Buffy's mom was there from the VERY BEGINNING so of course we would have a very emotional episode regarding her, but come on, Sue's sister wasn't on all that much.
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May 19, 2011
Maybe not one of the best episodes, but it was alright. Not all chapters have to be brilliant, we need a good season finale though :)
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May 19, 2011
Where have you been ALL season? This show has been nothing but hollywood commercialism all season long!
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May 19, 2011
It was a great episode, It's about time they got off all the gay stuff, I'm about to drop the show...if they don't drop the gay theme...
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May 19, 2011
I can't agree with you Seth. It was a great episode. Why you say no one cares about the sister of Sue? I did. I actually liked this character. This character gave Sue a different side and I like most of the scenes with here. So I was really said that she passed away. Firstly when I read someone will die in this episode I thought it would be Pucks girlfriend. I find this episode well written. It let a lot of open spots.
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May 19, 2011
Two words. Grilled. Cheesus.
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May 19, 2011
Glee used to be my favorite show. I'd fill my iPod with the songs and record the episodes so I could watch the music numbers over and over. Then season 2 happened. Don't get me wrong, there have been some really great moments this season and I'm a huge fan of Blaine and the Warblers, but the magic is gone. I don't know if I agree that this was the worst episode of the season - there are many contenders for the title - but yeah, Glee has some reworking to do over the summer if they want to keep their fans.
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May 19, 2011
Cancel this garbage now!!!! -- all this show has displayed this year is that its writers have absolutely no range or originality and I think its probably due to its casts', with the exception of Jane Lynch who has just become a charicature rather than a character, inability to do comedy. That episode Tuesday evening was just garbage from 1st to last gasp. They have no original ideas so lets just dig up old material and beat the audience with it. Mary Tyler Moore showed years ago you can do a funeral in a comedy show and it can be, gasp, a funny episode but this was too serious and melancholy to even attempt comedy. Why has this show become so bad so quickly? Just a flaming pile of s$it is what this show has become. THEY CANCEL "HUMAN TARGET" AND "LIE TO ME" BUT CONTINUE SHOVELING THE S^IT ON WITH THIS WASTE OF TIME, GODDAMN THIS NUMBER 1 NETWORK SURE DOESN'T ACT LIKE IT.
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May 19, 2011
Seth, I think I'm the only one who agrees with you. This episode was incredibly contrived, and just didn't seem emotionally genuine. The rendition for "Pure Imagination" was truly disturbing, and if that makes me a cold-hearted, soulless, monster for saying it then I suppose I must be evil.
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May 19, 2011
i think the worse episode has got to be rocky horror and britney ep (only the music was good but no plot advancement at all). both are just filler episodes to pro long the season.
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May 19, 2011
This was definitely one of my favorite episodes from season 2. Not only because I cried (yes, manipulation often works on me), but also because this twist of events made the real, plausible, Sue Sylvester come back! Finally! Lately she'd been way out of line. Her character was so hateful that the once hilarious and inventive bully had become a real show killer. I used to love Sue's character! Her sole appearance used to make me smile, but lately, I feared her appearances on screen! This entire show is about caricatures and forcing the traits, but Sue's character was NOT heading the right way, and only something this dramatic could make her come back. I liked Jean's character and I think I'll miss her a bit, but I'm so glad Sue's finally back!
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May 19, 2011
Seth, are you ok. do you want to talk about it? Its clear something is bothering you on a deeper emotional level.
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May 19, 2011
what is glee
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May 19, 2011
Personally I loved it. Almost every episode where they focus on the kids not forget the celebrity guest stars rate high with me.
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May 19, 2011
I don't think it was the worst episode. I really liked Rachel's solo. She has an amazing voice and she is wonderful. Didn't like Jesse though. Hope he and Rachel don't get back together.
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May 19, 2011
where you watching the same episode? it was wonderful!
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May 19, 2011
It may not have been the best episode ever, but it certainly was not the worst. Seth you are insensitive and most of the performances were really great, especially the 4 solos.
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May 19, 2011
I cried...
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May 19, 2011
This show was AWESOME...have you NO SOUL??? I cried, my husband cried...I think my cats cried. Perhaps having someone in your life that has a disabitily might change things for you. Go out and love someone, Seth. You need it.
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May 19, 2011
Glee like other quirky shows (Ugly Betty, for example) started off as refreshing, edgy, surreal and new. But, like Ugly Betty, it has slowly started to slide into the absurd (in a bad way), weird, unpleasant and downright unpalatable. There have been several questionable moments of late: Karofsky's emotional apology to Kurt, the whole prom episode, Kurt as prom queen etc. The Funeral show hit rock bottom. The breakup of Finn and Quinn was a tacked on afterthought that ranks high in bad-timing. It's still my favorite show. But, it is now on 'first warning'. If it doesn't get back to its roots, soon, I for one will find something better to do on Tuesday night.
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May 19, 2011
clearly seth u do not no what ur talking about. funeral was a fantastic episode. it was both funny an sad. an got people hook. i do agree with the killing off the character bit but seriously saying this is the worst episode is a bit to far. clearly the worst ep ever is a night to neglect.
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May 19, 2011
I tend to agree with Seth here. I do think Sue's rant at Kurt and Finn in her office had some good philosophical questions about life and death, but then the funeral scene was just dripping with sap. Shows need to learn the difference between heavy-handedness and understated realism. If you want to see a real powerful, emotionally draining character death, check out Buffy the Vampire Slayer's season five episode "The Body," and you'll see what tv can really do.
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May 19, 2011
i loved that episode!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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May 19, 2011
I really enjoyed this episode....but then I am pregnant and incredibly hormonal so this played to that nicely. That said, I thought when I heard they were doing a funeral episode that Karofsky may be the subject of the episode. Having him commit suicide because of his fear of his own sexuality could really have open up an inspiring and emotional episode
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May 19, 2011
Manipulative or not, i cried like a baby. And "out of character"? SERIOUSLY? DUH! There's not a single character who has stayed loyal to itself. The writers on this show tend to write plots that don't make any sense, just because. How many times has Sue said she's going to change and be supportive? I've lost count. Jean was just a device, as Becky is, and also as all the gay parafernalia has been. I'm really supportive of the gay community but i'm hating the all-on-your-face message they're giving on the series. They're saying "we're gay and you must accept it and bullying is wrong and Kurt is too cool for school and there's a magical school where no-one discriminates and everyone is happy", but it cannot be further from reality. Of course i want that in real life, but instead of throwing it to your face, i'd like a message that allows people to draw their own conclusion about the issue.
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May 19, 2011
I actually think that showing Sue to be human is a good thing, and enjoyed those parts of the episode. I now officially see Jessie St. James as a despicable human and irredeemable. I found him annoying before this episode and did not like how judgmental he was but his comments when Finn and Kurt were talking about the funeral prove he is an evil person whose character should be cut from the show forever in my opinion. .
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May 19, 2011
I really can't compare one bad episode of "glee" to another bad episode; that said, it was definitely bad in my books. I zoned out midway and just started surfing the net because I couldn't care less. What was the League of Doom even for? They introduced it and the whole thing deflated with a death of a minor character that seemed tossed in to wrap things up before the finale. What about Coach Bieste, where has she been for the last 8 episodes? And Jesse just appears so conveniently in "Prom Queen"? Sloppy developments, just sudden guest appearances and disappearance whenever the opportunity arises.
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May 19, 2011
It was lame but I'm glad Finn fianlly dumped Quinn. It's about time. I love Finn and Rachel!
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May 19, 2011
I really disagree with your opinion for me this was one of the best episodes that Glee had, it showed Sue in a better light plus I believe that the song choices were awesome Pure Imagination wasn't meant to make people cry or make everyone sad but it was used for it was Jean's favorite song and I believe that it was sung pretty well. Regarding Schue not accepting Becky was due to the fact that they were week away from Nationals and its really not the right time to have a new member join in.
on the other being the critic that I think you are I respect your opinion that being said I just think that you give out harshly negative reviews
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May 19, 2011
they didn't pick a song to be sad at the funeral, they sung a song that Jean liked.. but i didn't really care for any of the songs, they just seemed to be randomly thrown in. it wasn't the WORST episode but it was on the bad list.
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May 19, 2011
pure imagination was effin awesome! as was the whole episode...FAIL!
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May 19, 2011
hell to the no...This is episode is goddamn perfect
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May 19, 2011
I beg to differ! This was one of the best episodes ever. For someone who has a Down Syndrome person in the family, the beautiful way they treated Jean's funeral was inspiring. I cried for 15 minutes through it, as did half our family. As always, Kurt and Rachel's performances were awesome, and we would love to see Sue become softer in the future. Enough with the horrible Sue. it got stupid and childish. Lets leave some semblence of credibility to the story line. Love the music, but the story line mostly sucks, except for last night.
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May 19, 2011
you think this was the worst episode of glee? did you even watch night of neglect? that episode had terrible choices, even worse songs and coming off the high that was original song was just godawful. this episode was NOT that bad. and im sorry people don't watch tv to see caricatures, even the most evil characters have to have a humanizing side or its not tv, its a cartoon. you could do the same thing to anything on glee and call it a device, but they're trying to make it seem like real life and not having that stuff because thats how it usually goes is just as bad as putting that stuff because that's NOT how it usually goes. wasn't it you who wrote a few weeks ago they've never had a trans kid on glee? wouldn't that be conceived as a device? besides, the sue we all know and love to hate was still in there. she was rough on kurt and finn planning the funeral at first because she didn't know how to deal with her sister's death. and other than that, i was relieved finn broke up with quinn, who is a controlling, manipulative status-obsessed witch. this wasn't the best episode of glee, but it was very, VERY far from being the worst.
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May 19, 2011
I HATE WHEN PEOPLE TRY TO RUIN THINGs THAT ARE SO GOOD AND A REALLY GOOD EXAMPLE AND THE ONLY REASON PEOPE TEASE GLEE IS BECAUSE THE SHOW IS ABOUT THE TRUTH AND REALITY AND PEOPLE SHOULDENT JUDGE SOO MUCH LET THE SHOW BE IT WAS A GREAT EPISODE AND WHEN SOMEONE DIeS THATS UR SISTER IT HURTS AND IT CAN SHOW APART OF U THAT NO ONE KNOWS IT WAS AN AMAZING EPISODE AND I HOPE THEY CONTINNUEE ,.. this show is my favroite show because its not perfect and perfect dosent excist soo back off glee haterss !!
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May 19, 2011
i think it was a good episode compared to season 2 episode 17 "Night of Neglect" i mean come on man what the hell was up with that episode it sucked it was the worst ever in glee.
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May 19, 2011
I have no idea what Glee is all about anymore! It has morphed into something that usually happens to a show in season 4 or so.
That being said, it just doesn't hold the excitement it did in the beginning, nothing ever seems to fit or make sense, and who they decide to "tribute" every week is just off the wall!
It was emotional, no doubt, but come on!!!!!
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