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April 24, 2014

Are We Over 'Glee'?

by Laura Prudom, posted May 11th 2010 11:00PM
Can we ever really have too much of a good thing? Is it physically possible for us to get tired of 'Glee'? The suggestion is pure sacrilege, we know, but before you release the hounds on us, let's remember that, thus far, only 17 episodes of the primetime hit have actually aired, and yet somehow, the cast have already sung the national anthem during the World Series, released three hit albums, scheduled a sell-out summer concert tour, received international syndication, won a Golden Globe and performed at the frickin' White House, not to mention the rumors that the series may soon be adapted into a Broadway musical.

After 17 episodes.

While 'Glee' is impossible to define and thus impossible to compare to any other series, in terms of cultural impact, programs such as 'Seinfeld' and 'The Simpsons' immediately spring to mind. And, to put things in perspective, 'Seinfeld' wasn't awarded a Golden Globe until its fifth season (nor an Emmy until its fourth, fact fans), and as far as we're aware, Homer and Bart Simpson have never been invited to serenade the First Family. All this glory for a little engine with an average viewership of 8 million viewers seems almost impossible to believe.

They say that the stars that shine the brightest burn out the fastest, and we can't help but wonder whether everyone's favorite rising star is destined for a similar fate. As tabloid mainstays Britney and LiLo can attest, overexposure just isn't pretty, and right now the 'Glee' publicity machine is working so fast that we can hear the gears grinding; TV Squad has already had cause to ponder whether the show is heading towards an epic fall.

Our biggest concern is just how rapidly the show is burning through story lines; in the first 17 episodes alone, we've witnessed a fake pregnancy, a real pregnancy, about a dozen make-ups, break-ups and romantic near-misses, an iconic staging of 'Single Ladies' involving an entire football team, and so many attempts to get glee club shut down it's a wonder Mr. Schue's (Matthew Morrison) curly blond locks haven't gone gray from the stress -- and that was all before sectionals!

Of course, every show needs its share of narrative conflict, otherwise there'd be no reason to tune in, but the constant back and forth of Will saves glee club/Will loses glee club/Principal Figgins shuts down glee club/Principal Figgins reinstates glee club/Rachel quits glee club ... etc., etc., ad nauseam, is already getting a little repetitive. If the show is destined for longevity, it can't keep retreading the same plot points in weekly cycles.

Similarly, when 'Glee' returned with the long-awaited 14th episode, "Hell-O," it seemed as though the fast-forward button had been hit on many of the show's story lines: Finn (Cory Monteith) and Rachel (Lea Michele) were already (sort of) an item, as were Puck (Mark Salling) and Quinn (Dianna Agron), and Will and Emma (Jayma Mays). Now we've witnessed the introduction of the delicious (but potentially dastardly?) Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff) and dastardly (but potentially delicious?) Shelby Corcoran (legendary theater star Idina Menzel) to spice up the romantic drama, but we kind of wish we were seeing more fall-out from Jesse quitting Vocal Adrenaline in favor of New Directions; it all seems a little too easy...

It's not like we're complaining about actually getting some resolution for our story lines instead of constant teases that only prolong the inevitable (we're still looking at you, 'Lost'), but we wonder how long 'Glee' can keep up this breakneck pace without running out of new ideas and falling back on old habits and genre tropes to fill up screen time.

Likewise, the show's overexposure in the media (which we're well aware we're contributing to with this article -- what can you do?) might turn out to be more of a hindrance than a help in the long run. Right now, the hype is starting to eclipse the show, with the last few weeks providing us with a Rolling Stone cover shoot and Oprah Winfrey special highlighting the show, while a nationwide search for the next cast members is expected to be turned into its own reality talent series.

Even genre-specific super-convention Comic-Con made an exception to give the decidedly sci-fi and comic-lite series a panel at last year's event in San Diego, with another Q&A session (in an even bigger venue) expected at this year's convention. If you're still unconvinced of the show's pop-culture stranglehold, how about some stats? According to Google Zeitgeist, 'Glee' was the No. 1 most searched for TV show in 2009, and ranked No. 6 on Google's list of the fastest rising search terms of 2009, coming in ahead of terms like 'Paranormal Activity' and Lady Gaga and behind searches for Twitter and Michael Jackson.

But have the latest four episodes lived up to the hype? Yes and no. While the show's super-promoted 'Power of Madonna' episode gave us a note-perfect blend of musical mastery and cohesive story line all at once, Kristin Chenoweth's return to the show fell a little flat, with overlong songs that had some audience members feeling bored or just plain bewildered.

The show has captured lightning in a bottle with the introduction of Groff, whose stage-honed vocal skills do give the show an extra burst of adrenaline, especially when he's dueting with Lea Michele, but we can't help but think he's being underutilized in favor of gimmicks and cameos. (He wasn't even in tonight's episode! Though I must admit I found it charming, even without him.)

The May 18 episode features the legen -- wait for it -- dary vocal skills of 'How I Met Your Mother' star Neil Patrick Harris, reteaming with his 'Dr. Horrible' director Joss Whedon for an episode that will doubtless have us dancing on our couches, but we can't help but wonder whether the continual stunt-casting and self-referencing is going to overshadow the story line (everyone from Britney to JLo is already campaigning to appear or have their music featured on an episode).

TV Squad editor Joel Keller believes it already has, pointing out that Sue Sylvester's new-found fame as a music video star is detracting from the plot, and we're inclined to agree. We're not sure if the rest of the season will have Sue tackling other infamous videos (surely a 'Bohemian Rhapsody' parody can't be far off), but for those of us that fell in love with our hapless Gleeks for their camaraderie and the constant threat of slushie facials, we think it's about time the show got back to the characters instead of the musical numbers.

It seems as though you can't open a magazine, Web page or Twitter feed without being bombarded with buzz for the show (whether you believe it's deserved or not is entirely at your discretion), but can audiences ever truly tire of such peppy, feel-good episodes, a unique, three dimensional cast of super-talented misfits and undoubtedly the best soundtrack in television history? Only time (and ratings) will tell -- for now, we're happy to ride the 'Glee' train wherever Ryan Murphy and company want to take us, slushie facials be damned.

Does 'Glee' still get your toes tapping despite all the hype? Do you think the cast deserves their new-found fame, or should they concentrate on hitting the right notes and not every event in town? Do you wish that dreamy Jonathan Groff could just be given a whole episode to croon at us solo? Give us your thoughts on 'Glee'-mania below!

[Follow Laura on Twitter @LauinLA.]

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Ruby

I love most to the singing and acting on this show and as with any show, there are characters I like and characters I hate. Unfortunately, Fox will milk this cash cow for all it is worth and then dump it. They are spreading the cast a bit then I think and there is definitely a danger of burn out and they haven't even finished this season yet.

May 13 2010 at 5:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CC

I think I'm close to being over Glee. I agree with a lot of posters here - somewhere over the hiatus, Glee lost something. Or my tastes changed. Or both.

Rachel has always been a bit of a diva (sometimes overcompensating for her insecurities) but now she is just grating. I don't care for her romance drama and I'm tired of hearing Lea Michele sing.

Mr. Schu just seems smarmy (maybe he was always a little smarmy?). They really ramped up that Sue character for a few episodes, and then she was pretty nonexistent in the latest episode. We need some of her snarkiness but it needs to be in mild doses.

I didn't mind the pregnancy storylines - they were over-the-top, but it's a tv show about glee club. Nobody looks for realism in a show like this. However, constant cries of "Glee club will be shut down, unless xyz happens" has gotten tiring. It's like the boy who cried wolf.

It's pretty bizarre that they are supposedly working towards Regionals, and yet they aren't working on any of their songs. In the first half of the season, they were figuring out what songs they should sing for sectionals. They had a performance here and there (the scrimmage with the other schools, the one show where April was there). And now when they should be working on their songs for regionals, they are instead doing little throwaway assignments. I feel like this is one of those AP classes in high school - once APs are over in the beginning of May, you spend the rest of the school year doing nothing. It's so odd.

I think I know what Glee is missing... football! (I'm kidding, of course!).

May 12 2010 at 10:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eugene

I am, the madonna episode killed it for me.

May 12 2010 at 1:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Benjy

Once upon a time, there was a great simple preview episode with lots of heart about a Spanish teacher who had a love for his old high school glee club and wanted to keep it alive with the help of a bunch of loser kids who realized that they needed each other to get through. While this was downplayed a bit throughout the season to keep the other major plotlines driving the show, it stayed as an underlying theme until it came up in a big way again with the brilliant "Sectionals" episode.

But when the show returned after a long hiatus, that underlying spirit that fueled the show just didn't feel the same. For example, the much-hyped "Madonna" episode, where Madonna was trumped up as the greatest thing to enter the world in the last century, was the ONLY episode this year where I actually FAST-FORWARDED through every musical number! The same goes for the over-the-top cameo by Olivia Newton John that led to the massively auto-tuned Jane Lynch "Physical" duet.

What happened in that super-long break to change the vibe of the show? Simply, the show became aware of its own success. As with many shows where hype blurs the lines between reality and show and the cross-marketing opportunities are plenty, massive oversaturation occurs. It's hard to watch this massively over-marketed show about a bunch of loser high school glee club kids and not see them as the over-hyped stars they have becaome as a result of the show spilling over the fourth wall. And gimmick episodes like the Madonna episode or the ONJ cameo only make things worse. Just keep the focus on these loser kids and their dreams and leave all the extra fluff by the wayside.

May 12 2010 at 12:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wulfn1

The on again off again romances and friendships are a staple of high school life. So I was never put off by those sides of the plot lines. It made the "we're highschool kids" feel more real despite the actual age of the kids doing the show.

The bizarre plotlines of the adults in the show actually bring it down for me. Yes it is conceivable that the gym teacher/cheerleader coach might have bad feelings toward the spanish teacher/glee mentor, but I think they've taken it to an unrealistic point and every time they reign it in and bring out the more human aspects of the characters it seems they have to spin something equally unrealistic at the same time .

I get it. Sue is diabolical, but remarkably compassionate in her personal life. Shue is a vain wannabe who missed his "chance"(if he really ever had one) and lives vicariously through his students. Sue and Shue are the adult versions of the highschool clique rivalry, taking their actions to adult levels. Really... I get it. Can we tone that part down just a smidge?

I really wish they'd tone down the autotuning just a bit. It's detracting from the songs, especially the solos. I can understand kicking that up for group numbers, and it doesn't stand out as badly there as the solos where you are focusing on one artist's voice. It is distracting at best though.

The introduction of Jesse into the show seems like a curve ball without any speed. What is he? Hopelessly in love? Spy reporting back to his original group? Really,...this week he went on spring break with his vocal adrenalin group?(if he had really transferred to the other school to be with his um... love interest, his original teammates would have totally ostracized him and would not have permitted his presence on such a trip.)

I'm still watching though, I've invested this much time in it, might as well follow through, unless something better comes along...

May 12 2010 at 9:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lee

I watched the pilot of Glee, which I found to be really funny, but I tuned out after that. Why? One of the creators is Ryan Murphy. I have no confidence in him. Look what ended up happening to Nip/Tuck. Mark my words, Glee will fly off the rails and, especially since it now has the hype machine behind it, badly.

May 12 2010 at 8:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nina-Marie

Although I'm addicted to Glee, I've wondered the same thing - that its running through the story lines too fast. Another concern is the age of the cast. How long can over 25 year olds play high school students and get away with it. How well would that play in three seasons?

May 12 2010 at 6:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dominique

I can't get enough of GLEE. It has been awhile since I've enjoyed a show this much. The first 13 episodes were great! I have found the first 3 episodes after it's return lackluster, but "Bad Reputation" and "Laryngitis" have been among the best episodes to date. I agree with a few points the author made though: No more "Sue videos" please. It was fun- ONCE. Also I wish the show would reconsider all of the gimmicks like "The Madonna Episode." I actually thought the Madonna episode was the worst in the series. "Laryngitis" though, was every bit as good as the "Wheels" episode that became so famous.

May 12 2010 at 5:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eileen

I refuse to watch it simply because of all the over-the-top, verging-on-hysteria hype. This is NOT the Second Coming or anything close to the best show ever done. Really.

May 12 2010 at 2:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
emassoni

I really haven't been in tune with the hype. I know the show is popular but without articles like this one I wouldn't know about their visit to the White House or the many magazine spreads they get. That said, I understand the concern.

However, I think the show will continue to be successful BECAUSE of the rehashed plot lines. Every week is basically Will giving the class an assignment that relates to current events and the students sing a bunch of songs and "grow". There's a million ways you can do that over and over again. People enjoy the show for the ridiculousness of it and the music. There's plenty of music out there to keep people watching.

May 12 2010 at 2:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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