An Open Letter to Glee

Dear Glee,

I’m writing this letter because, well, I don’t know how to say this, but I’m breaking up with you.  Before you get upset and stop reading this letter, I want you to know how much I treasure the good times we had and how much I have loved you.  I have never fallen for a TV show as fast as I did with you.  It was love at first pilot.  (You remember the love letter I wrote you?  Here it is.)  From the minute I saw you, with your Ohio-based show choir (harkening me back to my days in CHS Essence), your myriad of misfit characters I’d love to befriend, and the voracious wit exuding from Sue Sylvester, I was taken.  How can I ever forget the way I teared up the first time the New Directions burst into “Don’t Stop Believing” in simple red tees and blue jeans.  Husband and I said to ourselves that we’d never seen a show capture adolescence quite like this, and we loved it.

We were struck by the way the show took a more serious turn when Quinn’s pregnancy was revealed, as she began to grapple with her fall from fame and perfection.  We really believed you were going somewhere as Curt’s relationship with his dad developed, and we celebrated the complexity of them navigating their relationship and life together with love and grace.  We loved the wit of a high school football team using “Single Ladies” as a means to work together.  And we laughed inappropriately at Sue’s ridiculous featurettes on “Sue’s Corner.”

But Glee, you’ve let us down, even though you were always towing the line between funny and offensive…you’re not the same show you were who when we first met.  Our relationship just hasn’t  been the same since we returned for the second half of Season 1 and Season 2.  It doesn’t seem like you care about your characters anymore…all you seem to care about are the gimmicks, the iTunes EPs and drawing audiences through Top 40 musical reviews.  You’re no better than American Idol or Dancing with the Stars, flaunting over the top choreography, melodramatic fluff, and glamorizing some of the most sensational pieces of pop culture interspersed with tidbits of contrived character sketches.  You’ve abandoned musical numbers that advance the plot or enhance the characters in favor of theme-centric schmaltz: Madonna, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Rocky Horror Picture Show.  You’ve abandoned genuine character development for hollow hyper-sexual caricatures that gyrate and spew money-making instant downloads.

Where Mr. Shue used to be a man wading through a difficult marriage, finding hope in his students, and fighting for a cause, you’ve relegated him to the position of MC, a Jeff Probst introducing weak song selection after weak song selection.  Even though I hate some of the shows fantastical nature (Mercedes saying to a group of high school instrumentalists “Hit It” and somehow everyone can play a perfect accompaniment to a song they’ve never practiced) and the sometimes ridiculous song choices (and by ridiculous I mean, completely unrepresentative of a show choir or songs that would be performed at any public high school), I could set that aside and still love you if you’d at least stayed loyal to your characters.  You haven’t done that, and well, I hate you for it.  You are soon to be added to my shelf of betrayal, with West Wing Seasons 4 through 6.5, Lost Season 6, and anything in Battlestar Galactica involving Lee Adama wearing a fat suit.

I knew it was all wrong when Rachel met her mom, portrayed by one of my favorites (Idina Menzel), and I wasn’t moved to tears.  I knew it was wrong when all the song choices at Regionals had absolutely no connection to anything in the characters’ journeys, and I’d practically forgotten them by episode’s end.  I knew it was wrong when Quinn asked for Mercedes to join her in the delivery room and I felt nothing, thinking to myself, “I think the writers wanted me to find that touching.”  I don’t know what happened, but there is no longer the intensity and despair we felt when Mr. Shue finally discovered Terri wasn’t pregnant or the entire episode of Wheels, in which all of the following occurred: Curt and his dad dealt with anti-homosexual prejudices and grappled with how far Curt’s dad can go to be supportive of his gay son; the Glee club grows in their understanding of life from Artie’s perspective as they navigate the hallways in wheelchairs; tension escalates between Puck and Finn over Quinn; Artie and Tina develop a sweet romance; and stingy Sue Sylvester donates money for wheelchair ramps in honor of her love for her special needs sister, to whom we are instantly endeared.  In the last many episodes of Glee, I can barely articulate what happened in the story, if anything really did, because it’s become just a means of filling in the time between overproduced over-the-top auto-tuned dance routines and weak subplots.

Anyways, that’s not what I signed up for, and thanks to Netflix Instant Queue, I can watch a huge catalog of musicals to my hearts content and reflect on what a musical is and should be.  Glee, you are not it, you are a giant commercial for sex and crappy music, and, well, goodbye.

No longer believin’,

hbu.

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2 responses to “An Open Letter to Glee

  1. I suddenly realized how much you and my friend Amy would have to talk about. Her website is here: http://www.amywhipple.com/

    You would run circles around me in conversation, methinks. She and K do, that’s for sure.

  2. Renee,

    thanks for the link, it’s awesome! amy’s guest blog from Alex a few entries back is pretty much in line with the issue i’m discussing here. I particularly connected with this line: “I’m not asking for television wrapped in a neat little bow, but television writers need to consider the aspects of their show that attracted people in the first place. ” in this entry…http://amywhipple.com/index.php/2010/10/guest-blog-from-alex/

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