Glee Review: Let's Hear It for Love!
As you might expect on a Valentine's Day-themed episode titled "Heart," Glee sent a message to viewers this week: Love conquers all.
Even eye injuries. Even scheming parents. Even long-held religious beliefs.
The only problem with the installment? We never actually saw what love had to conquer. Indeed, Glee skipped over every possible tense moment or conversation and just cut right to the sweet stuff, eventually concluding, appropriately enough, in The Sugar Shack.
Rachel and Finn get into a legitimate argument over cohabitating and possibly rushing into marriage before knowing important traits about each other? Eh, why bother showing us how this couple actually moved past the disagreement and cut to them in bed. It's Valentine's Day after all!
Mercedes breaks the heart of her boyfriend, to the point that she can't even be with the person she loves so dearly and it forces her to sing the world's saddest, most emotional ballad? Eh, why actually depict her chat with Shane? There's a song to sell on iTunes!
Joe - a character we're introduced to and who instantly anchors the heavy, profound topic of Christianity versus homosexuality - is initially hesitant to sing for a gay couple? Eh, why depict any kind of struggle or realization? Let's just have him get over it and croon!
As it so often does, Glee tossed out a number of potentially intriguing storylines here... only to simply skip past any kind of build-up or earned resolution in lieu of as many songs as it could squeeze into an hour. These people aren't characters any more; they're just a set of vocal chords and limbs, uttering a few lines of dialogue to try and set a tone before jumping into their next cover.
I really do not want this to turn into a biblical debate - please be respectful in the Comments - but allow me to say/ask this: Almost everyone who still loves Glee tells me the same thing: Relax. Lighten up. It's frickin Glee! It's not meant to be taken seriously!!! Now... I have never bought into that because Ryan Murphy has made it clear he DOES intend for Glee to have an impact on society (see Kurt, bullying storyline).
But let's say one accepts the premise that Glee is meant to be taken as nothing but mindless entertainment -- in that case, is it really appropriate to actually delve into Christianity and homosexuality? To throw around bible quotes and interpretations? That goes to the heart of my constant issue with the show; it's anything BUT mindless entertainment. It brings up MAJOR issues, yet doesn't take them seriously, or doesn't follow through on them, or wraps them up in a corny, unrealistic, obvious way (hey, let's make the high school bully gay, and then let's make him fall for Kurt!).
The response from Gleeks to my criticism should not be for me to relax; it should be for the series itself to relax and actually air light, fluffy, meaningless episodes, not ones that tackle religion, sex, marriage and monogamy. Glee wants to come across like its profound by touching on various buzzwords and topics - but then it just gives up and solves everything with a song.
Were there aspects of this episode I enjoyed? Absolutely.
I'll take as much Jeff Goldblum as I can get and I hope this isn't the last we see of Rachel's dads. Forget couple's nicknames, they formed the first ever family nickname in television history: HudsonHummelBerry. (Sounds like a Ben & Jerry's flavor I'd totally eat.) They also sort of stole Ellen DeGeneres' motto with Honesty. Respect. Dance. But I'll let it slide.
I laughed at Kurt asking if all Irish people carry around four-leaf clovers, and at Puck asking Rachel when the baby was due. Figgins made me chuckle with his "Finchel" reference and Sugar was also funny here and there, but like the food item after which she's named, this character is much better in doses.
There was far too much of her here, as well as far too much of many characters we barely know. Sugar. Joe. Karofsky. They all received a lot more screen time than Puck, Mike, Tina and Will, not to mention Emma, Sue and Beiste, who didn't even make an appearance, even though one of them is engaged, another is trying to have a baby and another just got married.
You'd think those facts would warrant some Valentine's Day love, wouldn't you?
But that would only be true if Glee was interested in any kind of continuity. When do you think we'll see Karofsky or Joe again? These guys pop in, dominate an hour because the writers conjure up some love theme for their characters and then just disappear for weeks.
And, yes, us viewers know Darren Criss was sidelined so he could briefly appear on How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. But Blaine wasn't actually on Broadway. Is there a reason Kurt acted SO shocked at his appearance? Do they not text and/or talk on the phone? Is he not allowed to visit? Why wouldn't Kurt have been aware of his well-being all along?
Is this a small complaint? Of course. But it goes along with the way Glee just insults its viewers by abandoning all semblances of logic.
So, yes, Gleeks, this is another negative review. I loved the performances, especially "Stereo Hearts" and "Cherish," but I fail to see why they can't be combined with consistent storytelling. If you're going to set up conflicts - such as Rachel and Finn's fight, and the God Squad's take on Santana/Brittany - is it really asking too much to depict how those conflicts are overcome?
What did everyone else think? Do you care about conflict resolution or merely about fun songs? Did you feel Mercedes' heartbreak or feel unattached to relationships (with Sam and with Shane) with which we've scarcely spent any time? And do phrases uttered tonight - such as Let's hear it for love! (Will) and That's what being Christian is really about. (Quinn, not long after she tried to set up her baby's adopted mother in a drug sting) - make you want to smile or vomit?