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Glee Review: A Very Special Episode

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There's no way to properly review this as an episode of television. "On My Way," the final new Glee episode until April 10, was really nothing more than a Public Service Announcement.

I don't even mean that term in the derogatory sense with which I've often used it. It was, truly, literally - okay, almost - a Public Service Announcement, replete with mentions of Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation and The Trevor Project.

And, look, if Glee in general, and this episode in particular, helps a single teen see his or her life in a more positive manner, then that's clearly more important than its value as a piece of entertainment. Bullying is a serious issue, so is depression, so is suicide and there's a part of me that's glad there's a show out there tackling the topics in a serious manner.

Rachel Out Front

Moreover - while I remain the type of viewer who wants to be entertained, not educated - I appreciate how the hour really did focus on that one topic and actually did take it seriously.

Any regular reader of my reviews knows that my biggest problem with Glee is how it jumps around from one storyline to another, scarcely touching on serious subject matters - such as last week's insulting way it burned through religion vs. homosexuality - before it churns out a new song to wrap everything up in a tidy, iTunes-ready bow.

I applaud the series for not doing that here, for giving such a prolonged platform to such a heady problem in society.

Was it emotionally manipulative up the wazoo? Of course. The show just drops Karofsky back into our lives last Tuesday, conjures up this entire struggle he's apparently had way, way, way off screen and then yanks as hard as possible at our heart strings by having him attempt suicide.

There's no consistent, thought-out structure or plan at work here by the writers. There's merely the goal of making a societal point and making fans cry.

But, again, for an episode that clearly wanted to send a message about the struggles many teenagers face with identity and acceptance, it was very well done. It's simply up to viewers to decide if that's what they want from a television show.

And no matter what your answer is to that question, we can all stop and give props to Max Adler as Karofsky. Terrific work by the actor here.

Meanwhile, it was hard to tell if New Directions actually earned its victory because we saw so many more of its performances than any other group. I did enjoy Rachel's "Here's to Us," though the reaction by her dads was a tad over the top. Had they never seen their daughter perform before?

I also must wonder: why does the third place team always act so happy when announced as finishing in third place? There are only three teams! (And why are there only three teams in Regionals?)

Elsewhere: Sue is somehow pregnant? Ridiculous. But whatever.

And Quinn is involved in a seemingly life-threatening car accident? This clearly works as a cliffhanger, in terms of making viewers anxious for the next episode, but it's the epitome of poor writing. A good television shows builds to its cliffhangers. You want to be able to go back and see how a story came together, how it led from point A to point B and then to - whoa! - the suspense or emotion-filled point C that leaves you dying for more.

You don't want to think the show just stuck a character inside a car, had her send a text message and then rammed her with a truck because, hey, that will get fans talking! It's just very lazy, and is also likely leading to a Don't Text While Driving episode this spring. And maybe you'll look forward to it, that's fine.

As I said above, it all comes down to what you expect or want from a show such as Glee. In tonight's case, I can't say I expected Karofsky to try and hang himself inside his closet. But once the message of the episode sunk in, and I accepted the PSA theme as it was intended, I could at least appreciate the effort.

What did everyone else think of the special episode? Sound off in the comments and in this poll:

 

Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (475 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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I loved the episode. Rachel's dads were very funny as were Carol and Burt. Glee is not the show that I fell in love with season 1. A show full of humor, sarcasm, music, teen angst, group of kids finding themselves. Season 3 is so much better than season 2. All three seasons had their ups and downs. But Glee can't keep developing a back story anymore on the characters because they are who they are after 3 years. They are evolving some more than others. I believe in the show and its social issue awareness. As you and sometimes I call PSA announcements. Glee has turned to more serious and life changing social issues that affect teens more in today's world than I ever had to face. They are more affected by extreme peer pressure and scrutiny than ever before. The load that they have to deal with can be more than some can take leading those affected to downward spirals and altering their sense of self, self-worth, and to having thoughts of self-loathing making them choose dangerous and violent destructive paths harming themselves or others. Just look at the news. A lot more violence. So IMO, I honestly believe that this evolving little show about teenagers going through life changes, learning hard lessons about life, and enduring social issues of various kinds can reach teens by example. Maybe then, those teens can stop and think before they go off the deep end and do things that they would regret and that would be too late.

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As always, Matt and I share the exact same views on this week's episode of Glee. It was choppy, educational, and somewhat touching...everything that I'd expect from Glee, at least nowadays. But I remember a time, about two years ago now, where Glee was fun. Sometimes serious, had good messages, but...fun. The kind of show that families could sit around together and watch, without feeling uncomfortable about. But now, Glee is just a long string of teen problems, from suicide to homosexuality. And I know that that's all serious- I get that. But I don't think that's what Glee's about, and I think that's one of the reason Glee's losing it's charm so quickly. I'm remembering my favorite Glee episode now- "Funk", Season 1 Episode 21. "Funk" delivered everything I wanted in a Glee episode- humor, great singing, and some good Glee-charm. But that was almost two years ago, and I haven't experienced anything remotely similar ever since. (As a side note: to those getting angry with Matt for his opinion, that's what a review is for. Opinions. Not everyone is going to have the same one. That's what makes reviews so great- everyone can share different views.)

Matt-richenthal

@Guest: I am a critic who just writes my opinion. That's what a TV show review is, by definition. Of course it's all subjective and I welcome other takes on every episode. But my job is to write from my point of view only. As far as Glee being a "fluff" teen show, I mean... did you watch this episode? Do you really think it was meant to be taken as nothing but fluffy entertainment?

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usually I don't read the reviews, but I read this one and I have to ask - are all written so negatively? And why there's no word about the amazing songs in this show??

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Why does this reviewer not review the music on GLEE? We had two groups performing a bunch of songs in this episode, and the only one referenced is "Here's to Us." TVFanatic needs to get another person to critique the actual show and ALL of its elements. This "critic" is just a hater in disguise. It's like having someone cover Sunday night football who hates pro sports.

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Okay, I've never left a reply on these boards but these reviews are getting ridiculous. Please, please, please have someone review the show who at least likes it a little bit. In a way, nothing that was written was "wrong" per se, but the author really needs to realize that his views are subjective. What you consider ridiculous and over the top can be acceptable and entertaining to someone else. The author also needs to understand that this is a fluff, teen/pre-teen show that is expected to entertain. The harshness with which the author criticizes every episode is getting very tiring. Please stop using the adult lenses on this show. For example, I found this episode entertaining and surprising with a good message. I wouldn't say it's intelligent or artistically inspiring but I believe it has served its function. We need to bring in a reviewer who can at least appreciate the positive aspects of the show.

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GLEE is total fantasy with a touch of reality about the lives of high school students, but do we ever see any of them studying Math or History? The stresses of high school come from peer pressure and it's not only the Glee Club students who get "slushied"...it's all the kids who are different. I was in high school in the 60's and am a short guy, 5'3" and Jewish and gay. Of course I couldn't come out like Kurt or Blaine and nor could I sing like them. I had no talents per say I had to survive going to gym and being forced to play volleyball with kids who were already approaching 6'. experiences or has experienced in high school. It's and entertainment show and I wish it would stick to it and show us more of the great talents of Darren Criss, Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, Matthew Morrisson, Amber Riley...etc. I am interested in seeing where their careers go after GLEE runs it's final episode...which I have a feeling will be at the end of Season 4.

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You say that Rachel's dads' reaction to here singing "Here's To Us" was over the top, but if you actually watched the episodes and tried to understand them and not only critize you would understand that song is her dads' song. It was her way of giving them a huge present. In comparison, it would be like a billboard of a picture, that you want the whole world to see, being put up by someone close to you.
And the storyline jumps around but it is a show centered around singing the storyline is second to writers. They did have things leading up to the cliffhanger but again that meant you had to watch the show with any open mind and not watch to only find the things they could have done better.

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For those of u who believe this show was too much of a psa and that's a bad thing, let me say as someone who was so close to dying from suicide, this ep was a breath of fresh air. Its been 5 yrs since the day I. was locked up in my room and rushed to the er but this show reafirmed my decision that life can get better. It was so touching. I cried because it was too familiar. Suicide is nothing to brush aside, its a serious matter and I believe that an ep like this will change many minds

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I actually do think the writers built up to Quinn being hit by that truck. Earliar in the episode, during the god squad meeting, she showed how little sympathy she had for Karofsky and his close-to-death situation, and by the end of the episode; she got hers. Also, the injury will probably affect greatly on her being on the Cheerios, which was granted to her also earliar in the episode.

Glee Season 3 Episode 14 Quotes

In the last week, you either enjoyed a delicious curry or a hug from Principal Figgins.

Sue

You give the gay community cutting edge fashion that's usually only seen on Puerto Rican pride floats.

Sebastian
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