Last night I turned on the TV and something inside of me just said "No". I don't know what the final straw was but I can't sit through another hour of Glee (sober, taking notes). I didn't watch last night's episode (though it's called "Comeback" and I'm sure someone is gonna tell me I missed out). I don't regret it.
To those of you who've followed my Gleegasm updates since they began: Thanks!
Y'all know my issues with the show cuz I whine about them every week. I have never watched an episode of this show that I would recommend to a friend without a bunch of major caveats. "You should watch the Britney Spears episode, BUT....... a million things". And I think I've spelled those things out so many times that I'm sick of hearing myself think them.
So I'm not gonna write about why I stopped watching Glee. I'd rather write about why I started watching in the first place. The main responses I always get are either a) "Why even bother?" or b) "If you hate Glee so much go watch [something they hate but assume I'd like]?"
So here, in my last Gleegasm post, I want to answer those people. Short answer: Glee is one of the most important TV shows of the last decade. You don't have to like it - you don't even have to respect it - but I think you have to give it that.
Let's talk it out. Long answer after the jump.
First let's talk about cultural impact. Since big MGM musicals went the way of the dinosaurs nothing - not Moulin Rouge, not Chicago, not American Idol, not Buffy, not nothin' - has garnered the art form enough "cool" points to build a TV show around. You could give credit to High School Musical (and some is definitely due) but in a lot of ways Glee was a big gamble that came out of nowhere.
When I saw the pilot (which they aired three months before kicking off the first season) I was fascinated. Like every TV pilot it was basically just a jumble of ideas but I couldn't wait to see how those got glued together. I wanted to like the characters and I already loved the premise. What better place than a high school for musical theater; the most over-the-top, weepy, silly kind of theater? Think of a weekly show about, like, singing businessmen or people in a retirement home or something and it's a big stretch, but high school - especially as it lives in our memories OR as it probably seems to middle schoolers on the cusp - is an almost plausible time and place for fantasy and reality to get mixed up in a bunch of dancing and musical numbers. Everyone in high school is performing for each other anyway, trying to figure out who the hell they are. It just made sense.
But the Glee pilot promised more than that. Undercutting the after school special vibe was a really sharp sense of humor. It had a knowing quality that was basically acknowledging the silliness of the enterprise enough to get me to lower my guard. "I know this is stupid," it seemed to say. "But it's fun, too! Just enjoy it!"
And lastly, the thing that really sold me was an undercurrent of real sadness. Will Schuester in the pilot is a really poignant character: an artistic failure pushing against the school's bureaucracy to give outcast kids not only a safe haven but maybe a chance to pursue their dreams farther than he did. To succeed Glee couldn't just sit there showing pretty people singing the latest hits every week; it had to have an overarching story that people really cared about and the idea of dreams - those of the adults and the kids to be something more than they are and somewhere better than William McKinley High - was really powerful.
But... yeah, then everything went berserk. Probably because of its sudden popularity, Glee lost sight again and again of what it seemed to be setting itself up for. The horse was so excited to race that it lost it's rider. Even when I liked an episode or storyline I'd know that everything would be different next week and whatever was going on in the story would either be dropped or suddenly not make any sense. (Kurt likes Finn -> Kurt's a creepy stalker -> Finn's homophobic maybe -> Kurt has issues with his dad -> Kurt's dad and Finn's mom are getting married -> Kurt's dad has a heart attack? WAIT SLOW DOWN, HORSE!)
Whatever. It doesn't matter because Glee is a cultural juggernaut of Bieberian proportions. Other networks are already scrambling to greenlight their own scripted singing shows and Glee is contracted for at least two more seasons and a couple of movies. It's a big fucking deal and I'm glad I stuck with it. I just can't watch it anymore.