Glee’s final season is about halfway through and I thought I’d add my thoughts on what is probably one of my all time favourite shows and how its final run is going.
Since the death of Cory Monteith, the show has been on a bit of a downward slide. Let’s be honest, the show really should have wound up after the original cast graduated at the end of season 3. The split between McKinley and New York in season 4 was pretty up and down partly down to the incredibly bland bunch of newbies – Jake, Marley, Ryder and Kitty were no Kurt, Rachel and Mercedes.
Season 5 was hugely overshadowed by Monteith’s death – although the tribute episode The Quarterback was very touching. However, it was clear they had no idea what to do for much of the rest of the year. The only decent episode was Opening Night, where Rachel achieves her dream of starring in Funny Girl. It was a rare highlight, but seemed like a complete waste of time when Rachel decides Broadway isn’t what she wants THE VERY NEXT EPISODE! Chris Colfer’s lame OAP episode and Rachel trying to get into TV ended the season in an extremely limp way. Glee’s ratings were way down and when the final season episode order was cut to 13 episodes only, it seemed everyone involved was ready to move on. Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story and his other film and TV projects seemed to be of more interest. There were stories about Lea Michele and Naya Rivera feuding, Amber Riley was off winning Dancing with the Stars. It seemed Glee had had its day.
So the question was, what would these last 13 episodes be like? Wisely, the decision was made to bring the story back to McKinley. While the core cast are who fans are most interested in, the New York setting never seemed to fully work. Instead we have Rachel and Kurt back running New Directions, Sue as the principal, Will coaching Vocal Adrenaline and Blaine running the Warblers. Kurt and Blaine have split, and we have more new students. Would it work?
Surprisingly, mostly yes it is working! The new kids are much more interesting than the bland bunch – indeed, I am sorry we haven’t had more of them! Brittany and Santana are getting married, Quinn and Puck have been back. We’ve had Tina, Mercedes, Artie and even Emma popped back this week. The mix of characters has been pretty good on the whole
One storyline I wasn’t sure about is Coach Beiste announcing SHE would become a HE – yep, after Glee is getting on the trans-train! With Orange is the New Black and Transparent (two fantastic shows I really must write about soon) having trans characters, Glee is going there too. Alex Newell as Unique had been a breakthrough character in seasons 3, 4 and 5 but Coach Beiste is going the full transitioning route and the episode this week Transitioning was notable for an amazing scene with a 200 strong trans choir (as well as the welcome return of Unique!)
Of course, not everything has worked that well. Samchel (Sam and Rachel) is not a pairing I’m a huge fan of. I really don’t see why Rachel HAS to have a love interest when really what we want to see is her going back to Broadway – the dream of her character since season 1 and so stupidly wasted last year. On the other hand, Brittana (Brittney and Santana) has been really nicely handled. They are getting married next week I think!
Another reason season 5 sucked was the generally awful music. There seemed to be a decision to go for modern music (which I know nothing about) and much of it was very straight karaoke type carbon copies. A musical highlight for me this year was the 3rd episode Jagged Little Tapestry, that mashed up Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill and Carole King’s Tapestry. Two albums I love and really imaginative musical blendings that worked beautifully. We also had 2 great introduction numbers from Roderick (Noah Guthrie has a GREAT voice!) doing a slightly predictable Mustang Sally and Jane’s scintillating version of Janelle Monae’s Tightrope. I didn’t know this song previously but LOVED her energy in performing this with the Warblers. Sadly Samantha Marie Ware hasn’t had another big song since this!
Who know whether they will manage to keep up the generally decent quality. Glee has been wildly unpredictable at times over the years. I know I will be sad when the doors finally close at McKinley, although my love for Lea Michele’s voice will last forever!