With Glee season four now complete, I decided to compile a list of what I believe needs to improve in the show’s future. While the show is far from unwatchable, it is undeniably past its prime. Glee has been renewed for a fifth and sixth season, so it still has a chance to return to the greatness of its first two seasons and remind us why we all became Gleeks in the first place. Check out my points below and let me know if you agree or not!
1. Fresh Story lines
Season four introduced a crop of fresh faces to New Directions. While the newbies are welcomed for the most part, their story lines pale in comparison to the original cast in New York City. Marley, Jake, Ryder and Kitty’s love square was basically a rehash of Finn, Rachel, Quinn and Sam’s from the first two seasons. Kitty and Marley’s feud was also just a duplicate of Rachel and Quinn’s rivalry.
There was so little leading up to the romances of the new characters that it just felt so contrived when the couples formed. We needed to get to know their characters more on an individual level before placing them in pairs and forcing us to invest in them. How ridiculous was it that the Jake, Marley and Kitty love triangle already formed in episode two?
A high school setting with a cast so diverse provides a wealth of potential story lines to tackle issues that teenagers go through. While the focus was mostly on the couples this season, Glee did take on some sensitive issues such as depression, transphobia, rape and a school shooting. But even those provocative issues were only placed in the spotlight for an episode or two, before quickly being dropped in favor of love triangles.
A perfect example of this is Blaine. The writers had an entire season to develop his individuality outside of being Kurt’s partner. Rather than delving into his troubled past and how it shaped him into the proud gay man he is now, Blaine’s story lines all revolved around Kurt: cheating on Kurt, feeling depressed about cheating on Kurt, looking for a rebound from his break-up with Kurt, and planning on proposing to Kurt.
Season five also needs to delve more on the original cast in New York City. With a setting that exciting, you would have expected it to have more prominence. Instead, they often played secondary to the McKinley plot lines, with multiple episodes being completely set in Ohio. Now that Santana is settled in New York City and Artie is on his way, let’s hope the focus does switch more towards it.
2. Develop Undervalued Talent
It’s obvious that certain characters are favored over others. Season four prominently featured Blaine, Rachel, Marley, Kurt, Finn, Ryder, Brittany and Santana. With a cast so large, the challenge to give each character a proper storyline and fair amount of screen time to satisfy the fans is understandably difficult.
However, when supporting characters are given a story line on the show, their characters are degraded in order to prop up one of the leads. What was the point of introducing Brody or Adam if they were just going to be used as plot devices for Finchel (Finn and Rachel) and Klaine (Kurt and Blaine)?
A major example of this is Tina. While she’s been an unappreciated character since the beginning, fans were given hope that she would finally get her due in season’s three’s “Props.” Rachel granted Tina the title of New Directions’ lead successor, but that role inevitably became shared by Blaine and Marley. What was once an unfairly ignored character for three seasons has become an inside joke over her lack of purpose.
Tina’s storyline this season revolved around a school girl crush on a friend (Blaine) whom she knew was openly gay. Why are they recycling a season one Kurt and Mercedes story line? it only made Tina look desperate and creepy. The scene in which she straddled on an unconscious Blaine, while applying vapour rub on his bare chest, is arguably the most awkward moment in Glee history. Oh wait, Emma and Finn’s kiss could rival that too.
Another character who is unfairly ignored despite proving to be a scene-stealer is Sugar. Even when she is in the background, she is always grabbing your attention with her feisty reactions. Like with Brittany and Santana in season one, the writers had a comedic talent that desperately needed a storyline to flourish beyond one-liners. Sugar’s romance with Artie had potential, but even that was quickly dropped.
3. More Faberry
One of the most popular friendships in the Glee fandom is Faberry, a nickname for Rachel Berry and Quinn Fabray. Spanning three seasons, their friendship began in the formulaic popular girl versus social outcast plot. While nothing revolutionary in the canon of teen shows, what made their friendship special was the amazing chemistry between actresses Lea Michele and Dianna Agron.
Quinn only appeared in three episodes this season and had barely any interaction with Rachel. The scenes in which she did share with Rachel, also included Santana. It seems that the writers were unfortunately more interested in Quinn and Santana’s dynamic this season than Faberry. That is not to dismiss Quinn and Santana, whose scenes together are always full of banter and wit.
If Quinn is only going to make rare appearances on the show from now on, at least make it have significance to the main story lines. Quinn’s final appearance this season had her involved in a one night stand with Santana at Will and Emma’s wedding reception. While it was fun and random, it became pointless since it was completely ignored afterwards.
4. Song Choice
The song choices this season were a mixed bag. For the most part, the songs fit the context of the characters’ story lines. However, there were some shameless moments where you knew they just wanted to sing a current Top 40 hit for the sake of sales, even if it had nothing to do with that episode’s plot. The biggest offender was Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” which New Directons performed at sectionals.
Like with season two, New Directions performed a Disney-esque original song in the season finale’s regionals. Those original songs are fine when sung in the choir room for practises, but at a competition they pale in comparison to the rival show choirs. Who honestly thought New Directions deserved to win over Jessica Sanchez’s amazing vocals for Hoosier Daddies?
Glee needs to get back to the basics of performing songs only within the context of the story lines. In those occasions when they do, it often turns out incredible. A perfect example of this is Emma’s performance of “Getting Married Today” in “I Do.” The song fit perfectly with her character’s dilemma and Jayma Mays gave a sublime performance worthy of an Emmy nomination.