A Reluctant Gleek Has Few Complaints about Season 4 Premiere
by Kelsey Manning | University of Notre Dame
Yes, I am a reluctant Gleek. I wasn’t always this way. I remember back in the good old days when I first discovered the magic that was the first half of the first season of Glee and chain-watched them all, smiling and singing and occasionally crying to myself in my bed. Three seasons later, I’m easily irked by the overblown, over-dramatized, character-for-every-possible-stereotype behemoth that Glee has become. In fact, I whined about Glee’s sex episode on this very website. But I still watch, for those shooting star-like moments that remind me of the Glee of season 1, the ones that usually make me cry. (Yeah, I cried when they sang “Shake It Out” to Coach Beast – so judge me.)
All that said, despite the changes, despite the two places at once, despite the addition of a crazy alcoholic bitchy dance teacher in Kate Hudson, and despite the “Call Me Maybe,” I loved Glee’s season 4 premiere last night.
I’m just going to go ahead and get all my issues out first:
1. Rachel and Finn: What exactly is going on there? Rachel says she hasn’t heard from him in two months, which – even if he’s “in the army” – sounds wildly implausible. If the last time they talked-sang was “Roots Before Branches,” I’m really not sure how either of them managed to interpret that as any sort of definitive conversation about the future of their relationship. I don’t kn0w; I if got in the car with my fiancee expecting to go get married and ended up alone on a train to New York, I think I’d have some questions. Maybe that’s just me.
2. Wade “Unique” Adams: I’m sorry, I just don’t like him-her. He-she was fine in small doses with Vocal Adrenaline last year, but I really don’t think he-she justified having his-her own spot in the New Directions. I understand he-she wanted to go to a school where he-she was accepted, but he-she got to sing lead for Vocal Adrenaline in drag – I would say they were letting him-her be who he-she is, no? (Not to mention the New Directions were all “save those clothes for performances,” which is so not what Glee is all about.) Sorry, but Unique is an annoying diva and I just don’t like Alex Newell‘s voice. Thank God Artie didn’t pick him-her as the “new Rachel.”
3. “Call Me Maybe” as a competition? My ginger Glee-watching partner pointed this one out, and I can’t help but agree. (Gingers do know best.) “Call Me Maybe” is probably the most carefree song in the history of the world, and you’re going to use it for one great singer and three mediocre ones to compete? Lord knows that when Carly Rae Jepsen and Tavish Crowe sat down and penned those immortal words, “Ripped jeans, skin was showin’, hot night, wind was blowin’” they intended them to be used for good, not in the midst of an argument. “Call Me Maybe” brings people together damnit, and that’s how it should stay. (I actually didn’t mind the version though.)
4. “You can’t really scissor a webcam.” Necessary?
5. Britney 2.0: Heather Morris is an absolute goddess and I worship her dancing. But no one wants an episode where she takes the lead on vocals. No one. Not to mention I didn’t like the first Britney episode in general. Anticipating many complaints next week.
Now for the moments that make it all worth it.
1. Kate Hudson can dance and sing? I actually thought Kate Hudson was awesome, and was sort of cringing at the beginning of “Dance Again,” but she pulled it off. I’m enjoying the Rachel in New York element so far.
2. Just Jake singing “Never Say Never”: I was very much one of the Glee girls drooling when Jacob Artist sang the first few bars of that song. Of course then it got weird, but so far I am definitely in favor of little Puck.
3. Marley Rose and her mom. Poor Melissa Benoist. Her first time on Glee and you have her sing “New York State of Mind” back and forth with Lea Michele as Rachel Berry who we’re all feeling sorry for and who is about to prove herself at her new school?? I’m sure she did a fine job, but … it’s Lea Michele. The power of her voice is second to none (at least on the show, but let’s go with it in real life too), and they just threw the newbie into the lion’s den. That said, at least they gave her another shot with “Chasing Pavements,” which she did a nice job with. Anyway, her storyline with her mom was actually sort of sweet and charming. Though I did not at all enjoy the line “This is your shot to sit at the popular kids’ table – don’t blow it,” I am fully buying into the plausibility of the plot line. It was a little bit heartbreaking hearing Mrs. Rose talk about the fact that Marley had no friends at her old school, and I believe the guilt she would have felt before that. Plus as a high school cafeteria worker, she knows full well how mean kids can be and so would understandably err on the side of “I’ll pick you up a few block away.” Sad, but sweet.
4. Blaine and “It’s Time”: Yes, I am a musical nerd. So when two characters are talking and all of a sudden some people at the other table start stacking cups to a beat and those other kids in that weird caged off area start playing guitar and then everyone starts singing and dancing and automatically know the choreography despite the whole thing being totally spontaneous? That’s what I live for. Plus the song is awesome (It’s by the Imagine Dragons in case you were wondering), and Darren Criss is a god among high school choir nerds.
5. Burt Hummel: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Mike O’Malley is one of the most under-appreciated talented and subtle actors on the show. While everyone else is running around throwing fits or falling in love for the fifth time or having unrealistically witty banter, Burt Hummel is just a dad. He’s relatable, he’s consistent, he’s real, and he’s made me cry probably five to six times throughout the show’s four seasons. When he said goodbye to Kurt, it felt like exactly how I would expect Burt Hummel to handle the situation. He’s one of the few characters on Glee that you can depend on to do exactly what you would expect him to do. And his moments are always standouts.
So it comes out to a five to five tie, but when all was said and done, last night the pros far outweighed the cons. Will be listening to “It’s Time” on repeat until next week for Britney 2.0, which will be watched horror-movie style, hand over my eyes. But if you’re thinking of dropping Glee from your television repertoire, watch the premiere. It might give you – like the show always does to me – enough to hang onto that the rest doesn’t bother you as much.Kelsey Manning is an NGJ Managing Editor and a rising junior at the University of Notre Dame majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies and minoring in Italian. You can follow her on Twitter @kelseyMmanning.