GLEE Superbowl episode falls short of touchdown

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By Becca Seel

From the beginning of its disappointing second season, I have been skeptical of Glee. I knew before watching that the highly touted Thriller episode was bound to be full of stunts to pander to the Super Bowl audience.

The highlights of the series are usually when theatrics are added in, such as this season’s Britney and Rocky Horror episodes, so I was interested in seeing what Glee would do in the coveted, post-Super Bowl time slot. What we got was a heavy-handed, technically-sloppy parable about loving thyself and thy neighbor through the power of music.

[pullquote]It is rather disappointing to see a show that can use its platform for great music devolve into a top-forties jukebox.[/pullquote]

Though Glee can be cliché with themes such as staying true to oneself and the choice between popularity and self-fulfillment, even an initiate to the series could feel clobbered over the head by the message. I was tempted to start a tally of how many times a character said “I/you/we/ have to choose between [activity ensuring popularity and acceptance] and [musical performance].”

The Season of Kurt, while exploring relevant cultural themes, had been reduced to a playlist of the top iTunes downloads. Sure, they did a lot of Journey last season, but the Glee Club also performed Broadway standards, oldies, and plenty of off-beat tracks, not to mention a few inventive mash-ups. It is rather disappointing to see a show that can use its platform for social issues as well as great music devolve into a top-forties jukebox.

The performances in the episode were by no means the best of the series, and though the Thriller number may have been their biggest to date, the editing of the sequence itself made the performance frenetic and hard to follow. It was difficult to make out the quintessential MJ choreography and I’m still not sold on the concept of a mash-up for such an iconic song.

Do not get me started on the performance of Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills” by a group of privileged, private schoolboys. Not even dreamy Darren Criss could salvage that.

For all of the things I disagree with on Glee, most of which were present in the Super Bowl episode, there will always be something about the show that will prevent me from completely giving up on it.

Perhaps it is the message of inclusiveness, with endearing and relatable characters.

I don’t think I could ever truly hate a show that depicts the positive effects of musical performance.

Just like Sue Sylvester with her cannon, apparently Glee needed to find a way to top itself to feel alive. Future episodes will prove whether or not the series has jumped the shark (perhaps via cannon?), or if the heavy-handedness of Sunday’s episode was meant to keep football fans watching after the game. The heart of Glee is the music, and putting in the most popular songs of the week is costing the show its character development and coherent plot lines.

Though I may have issues with the series this season, I appreciate its presence on tv in a seemingly endless stream of crime procedurals and uninspired writing. Glee is original, genre-bending, and heartfelt. However, as the Superbowl episode makes evident, it has lost its way.

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