An Open Letter to Ryan Murphy re: Glee Season 5

Dear Mr. Murphy,

Hello!  I was hoping we could have a chat about Season 5 of Glee.  Well not so much a chat I suppose since this is a letter, but more of a one-sided conversation where I tell you my unsolicited opinion.  This is the internet after all.  Firstly, I’d like to say that I think we are moving in the right direction.  We’ve gotten more into the New York storyline.  We’ve added characters there even though so far they’re all limited-arc guest stars.  We’ve started up a great friendship dynamic between Santana, Kurt and Rachel that is fun to watch and ripe with storylines that can be explored!  Our progress, however, seems to be lagging.  Especially in these past few episodes.  I mean I couldn’t even muster up the rage that I expected to be seething with after hearing that you were having a teacher perform “Blurred Lines” with his students.

This is most definitely not appropriate.

I read once somewhere that the show was originally intended to be just about the highschool Glee club with Mr. Shue and Sue as the only consistent characters to a revolving door of students.  I don’t know if that’s true, though I can see elements of it in what you have going on now.  The problem is: people don’t care about the New Directions.  People don’t care if the New Directions win Nationals.  People wanted Rachel and Kurt and Santana and Artie and Brittany and Quinn and all the other specific characters to win Nationals.  And they did.  They won Nationals and now that storyline is over.  I don’t care if they win it again.  Now I want to know what happened to all of the characters I fell in love with after they won Nationals and graduated.

And please no more puppets.

I realize it puts you in a bit of a difficult position, because half of your characters are still in school, but let’s speed the year along and graduate them already!  There is no need to stretch a boring storyline over two full seasons.  I’m going to be frank with you.  The new characters (except for Unique) don’t work.  They are generic caricatures and their storylines are boring.  Glee takes so many long breaks that it sometimes feels like multiple seasons within a season.  Set up graduation as a finale before one of these breaks and then jump forward in time a bit.  Flush yourself of the characters and storylines that are dragging you down and jump headfirst into the exciting and wonderful world that is New York in your early 20’s.

Especially if you are gay and sassy.

There was so much talk before Season 4 about how revolutionary the new setup was going to be.  Sadly, it was just talk.  There is only a season and half left of the show.  Do something revolutionary now.  Flip the show on its head and make it better.  I believe in you.

Truth.

Sincerely,

Jen

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Gleefully Apathetic – Season 5 – Episode 4

Two years ago, I would have been counting down the days till Glee was back on the air.  I would have excitedly planned a dinner themed to the episode and snuggled in with my best gay.  I would have rewatched all my favorite parts and followed the episode with some Glee karaoke.  And it would have been glorious.  As it stands now, I was pleasantly surprised to see Glee taping on my DVR tonight, though that quickly faded during the “Here’s What You Missed on Glee…” recap.  There was maybe one thing that I cared about in the entire montage(Kurt’s band) and even that was a maybe. My plan was to write up a similar article to what I’ve done in the past (a list of what worked and what didn’t work), but this episode was so bad that it wasn’t even worth that.  There were maybe three funny jokes and all of the songs were either boring or just weird.  I did feel bad for Lea Michele.  Though limited in use, the few scenes she was on it seemed a bit like she wasn’t ready to be back.  Let the girl grieve, Ryan Murphy!

Anyway, I am a Gleek and will forever be a Gleek.  I will watch this show until it gets cancelled, but the truth of the matter is that this episode was downright bad and that is not okay for a return episode in an already down season.  I’ve heard rumor that they will be expanding the New York portion of the show and dumping the high school.  Honestly, that can not come fast enough.  The high school portion of the show has long outstayed it’s welcome.  The music numbers are garish and boring, the storylines are convoluted and boring, the acting is stilted and boring.  (I think you can see where I’m going with this.)

What Glee needs, what is has always needed was to stop and focus on the characters.  To do that it first needs to cut a whole bunch of them (I’m looking at you Marley, Jake, Kitty, Ryder, Tina, Sam and Unique) and perhaps do a time jump.  Let’s get the few interesting characters from the high school version out of Lima and into New York.  Then let’s focus on what it’s like to be a theatre geek in your early 20’s in New York.  It is a unique fun and interesting experience.  Let’s see it!  Though one thing to note – just because they can sing and dance doesn’t mean they all need to be actors on Broadway.  Let’s get some (organic) variety up in this place when it comes to career paths.  Also, please send Kurt back to the fashion world.  Enough with my rant, but after seeing the preview for next week my expectations are very low.  (Mr. Shue singing Blurred Lines with the kids, are you kidding me?)

Seasons of Glee – Season 5 – Episode 3

To say that this episode has loomed over Season 5 is a bit of an understatement.  Since the news first broke that Cory Montieth had died there was incredible pressure on the Glee writers to make his character’s departure work within the context of the show.  There were early talks of mirroring Montieth’s real life over dose to make a statement about addiction, but the idea was quickly abandoned (hopefully because the writer’s realized that Season 3’s twist that Finn’s father was actually a drug addict and not a decorated war would make any drug abuse totally out of character).  They instead chose not to focus on how he died, but rather the grief of those he left behind.  Because I was out of town Thursday to Monday I wasn’t able to watch the episode live, but was unable to escape the buzz around it.  It seemed almost universally positive (unusual for Glee) and I had high expectations for the episode.  I certainly wasn’t disappointed, but as Rachel requested I’m not going to treat the show with kid gloves.  Like all episodes of Glee somethings worked and somethings didn’t.

Things That Worked

–       Limiting the newbies.

I understand that the newbies connected with Finn as a teacher, but let’s be real, the audience doesn’t care about that.  What we do care about are the original characters and how they are coping with the death of their close friend.  The writer’s innately understood that and the episode was much better because of it.  I don’t think I could have handled Ryder crying over how Finn helped him realize he was dyslexic without throwing my shoe at the TV.  Does that make me a bad person?  Probably.

Pretty much the only time you saw the newbies. As it should be.

–       Santana Dealing with Grief

Finn and Santana had a rather complicated past – she took his virginity, he forced her out of the closet – so there was no way that she could simply cry over his death and get over it.  Instead she grieved true to character, by lashing out and lobbying insults.  When she confronted Sue about her treatment of Finn, she was also projecting all the anger she had towards herself about her own treatment of Finn.  Naya Rivera did an excellent job portraying Santana’s violent meltdown (though girl needs to eat a sandwich).  I was very anti-Finn for much of Santana’s storyline (I mean he outed her to a hallway full of people, because she called him fat), but I thought they did a good job reconciling his faults with his underlying good intentions.

Santana projecting so much it hurts.

–       Sue Dealing with Grief

Similar to Santana, Sue’s relationship with Finn was rocky.  Her grief was right on character and Jane Lynch, as always played it perfectly.

–       Kurt/Burt/Carole Scene

This entire scene killed me, but extra gold stars to Mike O’Malley and Romy Rosemont.  I do wish they would stop downplaying Burt’s reaction to Finn’s initial homophobia, but otherwise the Burt monologue was spot on and O’Malley delivered it with the perfect amount of regret.  Carole’s monologue broke my heart into a thousand pieces and then broke those pieces into a million more.  I think the gif below speaks volumes.

–       A touch of Rachel Berry

I think it was probably best for Lea Michele as a person that her participation was limited, but I think it also worked best for the episode.  We know that Finn’s death will forever change Rachel.  We will likely see the effects through the end of the show.  It was much more interesting to see how Finn’s death affected the characters that he was less intertwined with.  However, the amount that she was in the episode was perfect.  I don’t know how she got through it, but it was painful to watch.  I really hope this somehow helped her grieving process.

–       Tina’s Grief Counseling Session

In an otherwise pretty serious episode, this was a lovely comedic break.  Also, Tina continues to be the writer’s favorite human punching bag.

“I’m supposed to be mourning who?  Did we date?”

Things That Didn’t Work

–       Puck’s Storyline

I’m not sure if it was the writing or the acting that was to blame here.  Puck’s storyline was the same basic idea of Santana and Sue, people grieve differently and sometimes they do destructive things, but this was just laughable.  I actually laughed out loud when he was “drunk” and screaming at Beiste in the locker room.  Also, it’s a little awkward that he decided to join the military as a result of Finn dying since Finn’s own Army attempt was a big old failure.

I started crying from laughing so hard at the bad acting in this scene.

–       Beiste

Usually I’m a fan, but, like I said with Puck, everything about this was terrible.  Bad acting.  Bad writing.  Just all around bad.

This gif makes it look much better than it actually was.

–      Introduction to Rachel not coming

I respected that they established in the first five minutes that they were not talking about the cause of Finn’s death and that Rachel was not coming to Ohio (at least for the first part), but the weird blurry lenses-ed point of view shot made it seem like Rachel was drugged or something.  They could have easily had Kurt stand outside the curtain or just shown him and not shown Rachel in bed.  Small nitpick, but it bothered me nonetheless.

She’ll come when the drugs wear off.

–       Mr. Schuster is an asshole.

I’ve always hated Mr. Schuster (he is weirdly obsessed with his students and he treats his OCD wife like crap, among many other things), but the jacket thing really takes the cake.  The fact that he stole the jacket is pretty creepy in and of itself, but two things really push it over the edge to pissing me off.  Firstly, he decides that Santana is unworthly of the jacket.  Sure he doesn’t stay it out loud, but the fact that he stole it from her then told her to back off and go home when she was putting up Reward posters speaks volumes enough.  Secondly, when everyone was accusing Puck of stealing the jacket Mr. Schuster didn’t defend him and then WHEN THEY WERE ALONE basically told Puck that he needed to give the jacket back, because it wasn’t his.  Mr. Schuster knew Puck didn’t steal the jacket, because HE HAD STOLEN THE JACKET and yet he went out of his way, when they were alone, to make Puck feel like shit.  Right after his best friend died.  Way to be a great teacher and all around upstanding guy, Mr. Schu.

Asshole

Let It Glee – Season 5 – Episodes 1 & 2

I must admit that I wasn’t a Gleek from the beginning.  When I first heard the concept for the show I was sure it wouldn’t sustain itself beyond Season 2.  I was confused by the pilot, finding it difficult to figure out who I was supposed to be rooting for.  (It doesn’t help that I really don’t care for Lea Michele or Matthew Morrison.)  By the end of Season 1, I was done.  Convinced that I would never care about the show, I wrote it off completely, not even bothering to DVR it and pretend I was going to watch it later.  However, somewhere around the third season a friend explained his theory that Glee was so ridiculous, because it was a heightened version of reality, a campy satire.  I don’t know why this had never occurred to me before (my wife says it’s because I don’t listen to her), but that, combined with the top notch Adele mash up, got me to give the show another chance, and I was hooked.

Once I became a Gleek, I was all in.  I devoured Season 2 and 3, watching episodes three or four times.  I received all three volumes of Glee Karaoke as a Christmas present and used them on a regular basis.  I was not shy about my intense love for the show, giddily recounting jokes and sending videos of performances to my friends.  Season 3 was a bit rocky, but I didn’t care.  I loved every second of it and craved more.  Unfortunately, rough doesn’t even begin to describe Season 4. The quality of the writing had declined steeply, and I was hesitant about Season 5.  A lot of my friends had stopped watching and, quite frankly, I watch way too much TV to waste my time on shows I don’t actually enjoy.  I refrained from broadcasting an opinion until after the first two episodes, because I felt that they seemed like a two-parter, and I wanted to give the show a chance.

I am very glad I did.

I found the season premiere “Love, Love, Love” terrible.  I almost thought I had made a horrible mistake committing to another season, but “Tina in the Sky with Diamonds” proved that Glee still has it.  While this season will likely be hit or miss, I am really looking forward to seeing what’s in store.

Things That Work


  • HummelPezBerry Friendship

This was a big part of what was missing in Season 4.  Firstly, they took half a season to get Santana to New York.  Then, once she got there, they spent way too much time having the three of them fight.  One of the best things about living in New York is forming your own little family of friends.  I’m hoping they really explore that this season.

Evidently their pot dealer is amazing.

  • Dantana

I am a Santana fan, so there is a pretty good possibility I would ship her with anybody, but I thought that Naya Rivera and Demi Lovato were super adorable and had some palpable chemistry.  I know a lot of Brittana fans were unhappy, because of Santana’s comments about Brittany straying for ween (grossed myself out there), but I think it was just the Glee writers misguidedly trying to give us what they thought we wanted.  The lesbian community was up in arms when Brittany called us out in relation to Bram last year, now we’re mad that Santana is weary about dating another bisexual girl.  I’m not bi-phobic, but considering Brittany originally refused to get together with Santana because of Bartie then within a week of breaking up became Bram, I can understand how Santana feels a little less than.  They’ve never handled the lesbian love stories well, but I have hope for this one.  Even if Demi Lovato is only contracted for six episodes.

Adorable, but this is TV so one of you is going to end up dead or pregnant by season’s end.

  • Santana’s Commercial

Everything about this was perfect.

  • Bree

Please, please, please don’t try to redeem her, Glee writers.  Keep her bitchy and perfect.

I’ll punch Kitty in the face!!

  • Sue as Principal

They needed to do something different with Sue, and this was the perfect solution.  Her write off last year was awkward, and I’m happy to put that behind us, but have we forgotten that she has a baby?  Also, BRING BACK BECKY!

A beautiful, golden haired monster.

  • Prom Carrie Parody

They really knocked this one out of the park.  The only thing I wish they would have done differently was somehow take it further and play on Carrie’s telekinetic powers.  Alas, Tina just sadly limps off the stage then is somehow revitalized by Blaine’s wide-mouthed rendition of Hey Jude and a rather unattractive dress that magically changes sizes like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

This is her best look yet!

Things That Don’t


  • Sam/Nurse Romance

Don’t care. Next.

I couldn’t find a gif, because gifs can’t support the size of Sam’s mouth.

  • Klaine Engagement

Didn’t we do teen engagement two seasons ago?  Also, weren’t they broken up a hot second ago?  A couple can be endgame without getting them engaged before they’re 20!  Also, public engagements are the worst.  The only way they can redeem this storyline is to ignore it and then let a real proposal happen naturally.

Yeah that’s a great way to start an engagement.

  • Funny Girl Storyline/Rachel as Fanny

I literally cringed during the Hard Day’s Night sequence.  Yes, let’s confront the lead actor and director of the show at our place of employment.  What a great way to prove that you’re mature enough for a role.  Also, no producer in their right mind would put a 19-year-old college freshman in the lead role of a multi-million dollar production.  If I were writing the show I would have made Rachel the understudy and cast Sutton Foster as a super bitchy diva version of herself.  Then later you could have a Shirley MacLaine moment where the understudy takes over the lead role at the last minute and becomes a star.  That’s a better story, and you could have had so much more fun.  The only reason I’m at least a little forgiving of this is because they needed to give Rachel a win before the devastating blow that will be Finn’s death.  Not looking forward to that.

Of course you did. Ugh.

  • Kartie Songs

Not a fan of them, at all.  They don’t have any chemistry and do not blend well.  Let’s keep them both away from the Beatles please. Thank you.

Going in circles is not making me as sick as this song. Also, Kitty that is not the proper way to ride in a bumper car.

  • Tina the Human Punching Bag

What personality will Tina show up with today?  Who knows, but we do know that she will be taught a very important lesson!  However, her half performance of Revolution, where she was cut off by the bell, was simply priceless.  Also, in what universe would she be nominated for prom queen?

Or be some other girl. We don’t know, we’ve lost track of your personalities.

  • Lima/New York Psychic Connection/InstaTube Transportation

Dear Glee Writers, I hate hate hate when you do a final song that through some weird psychic connection they are singing in both New York and Lima.  Let just New York end a show for once.  I promise it won’t kill you.  Also, it’s a 9 hour drive to New York from Lima and the closest airport is an hour and a half away (assuming Columbia is closest, correct me if I’m wrong).  Stop making them instantly travel between the two!  Let’s make the New Yorkers’ trips to Lima special, like for Christmas or Finn’s funeral.  Otherwise keep the New Yorkers in New York!

If you squint you can see the time vortex.

To Sum It Up