Idol Chatter

Thumbnail image for glee-logo.jpgLike my fellow Idol Chatter contributor Kris Rasmussen, I have been enchanted with Fox’s “Glee” thanks to its quirky blend of song and social commentary. But unlike Kris, who was left “speechless” by this week’s episode and declared it “perhaps one of the best hour’s of television I have watched – ever,” I was not impressed. In fact, I wondered what had happened to my favorite show during its two weeks in Major League Baseball exile. “Glee” returned from the World Series wilderness not the quixotic, agile composition of previous weeks, but a heavy-handed after school special.
As Kris notes, creator Ryan Murphy dubbed this episode a “game changer,” telling the L.A. Times that, “… writing this [episode] made me feel the responsibility of showing the truth of the pain that outcasts go through.” But I think it changed the game in the wrong way: the beauty of ‘Glee’ is that every episode is socially relevant and easily communicates the pain and awkwardness of being an outcast, but in a deliciously subtle way that works seamlessly with the partnering story lines. Viewers aren’t bludgeoned over the head with Gatling gun-style “teaching moments.”
It’s great that the writers have finally turned their attention to Artie and the challenges he faces every day as a wheelchair-bound teen, and I loved seeing the softer side of Sue Sylvester (In fact, I shed a tear as she read to her autistic older sister). But, we are also informed of the harsh emotional and financial realities of teen pregnancy as Quinn’s pre-natal medical bills piled up and the challenges faced by gay teens and their parents (Kurt and his dad). Additionally, we learned the contradictory message that it’s not good to fake a disability (Tina’s stuttering), except when it is (Finn getting a job to support Quinn and the baby by applying in a wheelchair)? And I haven’t even mentioned the “where did that come from?” romance between Tina and Artie.

The episode bounced so quickly among sermons, er … story lines, that it could have been one of those mash-ups that the glee club so often does, but not a fun, glee-filled “Walking on Sunshine”/”Halo” mash-up, more like Mr Schuester’s unworkable mash-up of “I could Have Danced All Night” and “The Thong Song.” Don’t get me wrong, I think each and every storyline presented in the episode is an intrinsic thread in the fabric of “Glee,” but give the stories the time they deserve to develop–an episode each?–and give the audience the time they need to process such important messages.

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