Diagnosis: 'Glee' Fatigue
When I caught Glee’s pilot episode, it was love at first viewing. If the quirky cast, each character more over-the-top than the next, wasn’t what won me over, then it must have been the unabashed celebration of cheesy pop music. My first topic of conversation amongst friends switched from How are you to Have you seen Glee? And if the answer was no, well, there went my interest in the conversation! Yet recently, I can’t help but wonder if the spark is gone?
Part of the initial appeal of Glee is that it is nearly impossible to first watch it and not be immediately reminded of some other piece of pop culture you love. The show has the comedic tension and neuroses of Election, not to mention that Rachel and Finn appear to be doppelgangers of the film’s ambitious Tracey Flick and reluctant but popular student leader Paul Metzler. There is also the joyful campiness of Bring It On and the absurdity (and great use of Jane Lynch) of Christopher Guest movies like Best In Show. Of course, American Idol is brought to mind as well when characters attempt to vocally one-up each other every week in order to win a solo or impress their love interest. You’ve likely drawn these or similar comparisons yourself. Those movies, however, with their caricatures and outlandish plotlines, all end within 120 minutes, and someone is kicked off each episode of American Idol until there is one winner left standing and cycle repeats itself. I’m beginning to think that what makes Glee so infectious at first is what may be it’s downfall.
As the novelty of the show wears off, the cast increasingly appears less like an ensemble of hilarious caricatures and more like a group of tired clichés. While Terri’s selfishness was amusing in it’s audacity at first—“I'm on my feet four hours a day, three times a week here. Now I have to go home and cook dinner for myself?!”—she quickly developed into little more than a nag. Rachel is entertaining because she is eager to the point of being obnoxious. But actress Lea Michele is so good at portraying the earnest overachiever, that once you stop laughing you begin to find yourself annoyed right along with the rest of the characters. While that is a compliment to Michele’s acting, as a result I find myself rooting against the female lead when she tries out for a solo, and disappointed when she comes out on top (again!). While it pains me to say it, I’ve even found Sue Sylvester’s wrath less entertaining and more plain ugly as of late. Worse still, even the premise of the show itself seems to have an expiration date. At the end of the season, the club will either win or lose at Regionals, and then what? Where will they go from there in following seasons?
I also feel that the show sometimes struggles with what, exactly, it is trying to be. I started watching what I had thought was an absurd comedy, but lately the show has veered into melodrama. Did they really need to go the teen pregnancy route, and so soon? Don’t we have 90210 for that? Speaking of pregnancy – on the one hand, we were expected to suspend our disbelief and accept that Mr. Schuester could actually remain oblivious to the fact that his wife was faking her pregnancy. I mean, even if the character was portrayed as an idiot, which he isn’t, it would not be believable, but that is ok because it’s a fun, silly show. Yet, the end of this farcical storyline is anything but comedic; Will appears nearly violent when he discovers the truth. Since no audience could be capable of taking any part of this storyline seriously, his explosion of genuine emotion seemed a bit incongruous.
We will have to wait and see how the rest of season develops. Perhaps Glee’s mid-year hiatus is a good thing. Perhaps when it returns in April it will seem fresh and new once more. Or, perhaps I will begin to view it as the other characters view Rachel— as something to be tolerated despite being annoying because of the potential it has to offer.
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