Post finals, I started binge-watching Glee because I was feeling Darren Criss-deprived after seeing him in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but now it’s December 17th 2016 and here I am at 2 am in the middle of winter break, crying over Rachel Berry’s Broadway debut and the life debut of Mr. Schuester’s child. I resumed watching Glee because I really needed to understand how Glee ended, what actually happened to everyone while they were in New York, and what relevance the new characters had to the entire plotline of Glee.
I was introduced to Glee at the Glendale Galleria in 2009, where I saw tons of posters promoting season 1. I didn’t know anything about it, and when I saw Dianna Agron’s poster, I remember thinking she was Hayden Panettiere. (Side note: Isn’t it weird how the loser finger was only for promotional purposes and never really had that much of a purpose within the show or outside of fan photos? Also 2009! What even happened in 2009? That’s like the stone age of the 2000s!)
I started watching Glee the summer between 7th and 8th grade after checking out the season 1 soundtrack from the library and my mother continually asking why I insisted we listen to someone’s version of “You’re Having My Baby” in the car on my way to the grocery store. Awk, I know. But I loved that CD.
I didn’t watch Glee on TV, but to catch up I binge-watched season 1 with DVDs from Blockbuster. BLOCKBUSTER! I checked out five DVDs because they only had four episodes per DVD, and my binge-watching skills were terrible. I couldn’t go through them like Netflix. I watched them on downstairs DVD players, upstairs DVD players, and even this old portable DVD player I use to use in the car on road trips. I only watched season 2, 3 and part of 4 as they premiered on television, and that was it. It was much more difficult to binge-watch a television show back in the day. Kids these days don’t know what it is like.
After I caught up, I watched the premiere of season 2 in the living room with my parents. I was excited for the newcomer Sam Evans. I wrote “Sam Evans” on my 8th grade science class notebook. I pretty much spent my middle school and high school growing up alongside the kids from Lima Heights. We were supposed to be about one year apart age-wise, but compared to my actual experience in a small town high school, the difference could not be bigger.
I stopped watching Glee when I was a junior in high school because life was happening. (But it was nothing like Glee.) College applications were coming out, and my self-confidence tanked along with my grade in Chemistry. I put a pause on everything that I enjoyed to churn out mediocre essays about myself, and Glee was just something that I never resumed, except for when I plopped myself down on the couch one night with a box of tissue to honor Cory Monteith in “The Quarterback.” (RIP Cory).
This is what I have learned after catching up on three years of Glee in one month. These are my critiques of the show, written at 2 am in a rambling form over the course of a few days.
1. Tina knows it’s her time to shine.
The Lima Heights kids start to hate Tina because she tries to be the center of attention all of the time, but the truth is, Tina has a powerhouse voice, and until she got the lead in “ABC” at one of their competitions, it wasn’t being showcased enough! Tina can sing, and the fact that she is not the “star” like Rachel Berry doesn’t mean that she can’t have her own numbers! I personally loved Tina’s diva moments, because she really deserved to have her own moments after not having them for so many seasons.
“Diva” is one of the best musical performances on Glee that I have EVER seen (besides the senior’s performance of “You Get What You Give” – I listen to their version like ten times a day because it sounds so hopeful and Cory’s voice really shines), and “Diva” it really introduced me to how much Tina could rock. (Also Marley’s leotard is amazing). Tina also tells Unique “I have more diva in my little finger than you have in your whole angry inch” WHICH IS A HEDWIG REFERENCE foreshadowing Darren Criss’s run in Hedwig hehehe.
2. Santana and Kitty pretty much keep the show from falling apart in seasons 4 and 5.
I remember when Kitty was introduced with Marley and Ryder, and back then I didn’t like the new additions to the New Directions (did anyone?) but after binge-watching the episodes and understanding the flow of the show again, I think Kitty had the most personality out of the new kids and kept the high school plot line together by creating drama and then ending drama (until the last season, when her character was completely flipped for the sake of the end of the show). When Santana was brought back into the show, that’s when things got interesting, because it roped Quinn and Brittany back in, and I shamelessly love the unholy trinity. Santana’s anti storyline was a good contrast with Rachel’s immediate success story in New York. I think my favorite part of Season 4 or 5 (whichever it was) when Santana literally told Rachel “I want your show.” That was so epic! Because we see Rachel cry and get what she wants while Santana is bouncing around not knowing what to do with her life, and then Santana decides to almost pull the rug out from under Rachel’s feet. That was awesome. I love Santana.
3. All of the New Yorkers carry their glee club status into everything they do, and it gets embarrassing after a while.
I went to an actual high school in an actual small town and then moved to an actual big city and I don’t know anyone who has ever said “Well, I was special in my United Nations club and that’s what makes me special in this world.” Granted, Glee is the furthest thing from real life, but the Lima Heights kids seriously cannot let go of their time in glee club and it’s cringe-worthy when they LOOK 30 and say “I’m just 19, but in glee club…” At some point in every episode, someone says “When we were in Glee club…” and then literally any situation is listed at the end of that sentence. “When we were in Glee club I didn’t have to keep a loft apartment (that I share with ten people who come and go and I somehow don’t ever go broke in the city) tidy.” We get it. They graduated high school but they can’t move on.
4. The cost of traveling does not exist in the Glee universe, and it’s infuriating.
Again, I am from an actual small town and I moved to an actual big city, and I don’t go back and visit my old high school. The security guard would probably try to give me detention because I still look like a freshman in high school, so there is no point in me going back to my high school and walking down the halls singing about my time.
I can’t afford a plane ticket to New York and still have money to survive afterwards for like another two years. How the heck can they go from New York to Ohio every two weeks? And show up unannounced to each other’s homes? Sue Sylvester’s lines become the breath of life into the stale story of Glee, especially when she jabs at every inconsistency the show has produced. The kids are so anti-Skype. Quinn travels to New York just to sit down in front of Rachel and say “Don’t do it” (about the nude scene). It’s why Kurt and Blaine have issues. Bruhs. Just use Skype.
5. Blaine Anderson will always be a Warbler, but Glee tried to take that away, and maybe the show would have been better if Blaine never left Dalton.
In season 6 episode 1, Blaine returns to the Warblers and busts out singing Ed Sheeran’s “Sing” and he has returned home! After three seasons of singing along with the New Directions in tight, bright clothing, he truly lets the Warbler inside of him fly, and it almost makes me sad that he was taken out of Dalton to make New Directions more diverse. There is just no denying that Warblers were always better musically than New Directions. Maybe their performance was a little lacking in emotion compared to the New Directions, but The Warblers + Blaine made Glee exciting! You cannot deny the butterflies that happen when Blaine sings “Teenage Dream” for the first time! You just can’t! That musical performance deserves an EGOT. Darren Criss deserves an EGOT. It’s just unfortunate that Blaine had to be extracted from his (beautiful) natural habitat for the sake of McKinley’s “diversity.”
6. All of the new glee club members added after Sam and Blaine are completely pointless.
You know who I’m talking about. The Glee Project people and the others. (Oh gosh, I remember once when I went to The Grove a long time ago, the parking lot had gigantic Glee Project posters with Lindsay Pierce (the Gerber baby) on them, and I was so shocked because I had seen the episodes that made her look super rude and nasty. Why did that have to be such a dramatic show? None of them had good characters in the end!)
Marley, Ryder, Jake, and those one-episode debuts of The Glee Project contestants pretty much did nothing for the show. Case in point: the Gerber baby vanished after two episodes. She did have a good mashup of “Anything Goes,” (but she is no Sutton Foster, let that be known) and then POOF. She is a big threat to every show choir everywhere as a sophomore, and somehow her team loses, but then she disappears forever and New Direction win everything.
Jake gets a Cheerio pregnant. A Puckerman gets a Cheerio pregnant. Where have we seen that before? Quinn’s story line from season 1 was reused but shrunken into one or two episodes for Jake Puckerman’s girl. I don’t think the characters had time to understand their situation, which made that moment awkward and a few episodes later, totally unnecessary and forgotten! And look at the beginning of season 6! They were completely removed from the plotline of Glee after we had to sit through two seasons of them whining about being in a love triangle.
For so long I wondered how Becca Tobin and Lea Michele could be such BFFs when they had absolutely no scenes together for like two years, until season 6 came around and it turns out that KITTY was the only one loyal to the glee club and stayed at McKinley. We had to sit through like two seasons of Marley crying about having Ryder AND Jake competing for her love, and in the end, neither of them were her on-screen soulmate like Puck and Quinn turned out to be (disappointingly), or Santana and Brittany. It was weird that Kitty was the only one who could hold the glee club together in the final season, and that brings me to my next realization about the end of Glee.
7. The end of Glee is not about making sure that the glee club stays up and running. It’s about making sure that Rachel can have the best of both worlds.
Glee was always about Rachel. Always. Rachel wants to be the big fish in a small pond for her entire life, because she really does use other people’s failures to boost her self-confidence. When she gets to New York and miraculously becomes the best dancer in her dance class, gets a whole new wardrobe, lands a starring role in the revival of Funny Girl, lands a TV show deal, AND still has time to be a full-time student at NYADA, she isn’t exactly that successful because now she has to fight to keep all of that. In Ohio, she gets everything. The new glee club is anything but inspiring because the last season is not about the spirit of glee club in new people. It’s about the spirit of glee club staying with Rachel.
8. KLAINE IS LIFE AND SUE SYLVESTER IS SAVING THIS SHOW
Catch me ugly crying at 2 am because Blaine runs to McKinley in his little red shoes all the way from Karofsky’s apartment to tell Kurt “It’s YOU! It’s always been you!” even though they’ve only known each other for about 3 years and have been separated for about 3 months. THE PASSION. THE LOVE. Sue Sylvester’s storage unit of Klaine stuff is straight out of Tumblr and just as creepy (seriously, she had that thing wide open (FULLY DILATED) at the end of that episode and people were able to see inside the storage unit, but no one said anything) but you have to admit that Blaine and Kurt do a really bad job of hating each other. And boy did I shed some tears when Blaine showed up at The Lima Bean in their last flashback episode. #KLAINE4LYFE
9. Quinn always deserved better and the Glee universe was just not letting her live.
Maybe Biff McIntosh was not the love of Quinn’s life, but you can’t blame a girl
for trying. But no matter how hard Quinn tried to reinvent herself, the glee kids kept throwing her baby back into her face, like season 1 never happened. Like she didn’t perform in heels while 9 months pregnant at regionals (WHICH THEY WON) and then miraculously go into labor AFTER the competition, causing no conflict whatsoever. They would be lost without her.
I haven’t completely finished the entire show, but I’m really hoping she doesn’t end up with Puck for good because she deserves more than what Lima Heights is has given her to work with. She should get to live a nice life without being taken advantage of for once in her life. Hopefully her weird affair with her professor wasn’t too gross, and she can eventually become an actress or whatever she is pursuing at Yale and have the life she has always wanted. I read some stuff a while ago about how her character was never supposed to last because of differences between Ryan Murphy and Dianna Agron, but I am a diehard Quinn fan and I have been since I was a little doe-eyed 7th grader crying with her when she had to tell Finn the baby wasn’t his, and I will fight for her honor in every conversation about Glee that I ever have ever.
10. Season 6 Episode 9 is supposed to be an homage to when the New Directions performed “Don’t Stop Believin'” for the very first time.
How do I know this without going on Glee Wiki? Because the glee club’s first legit performance is when they wear the same color and same shoes. In season 1, they all wear red shirts and black converse. I know this by heart because in middle school I wore nothing but solid color polo shirts and converse of every color, and days that I wore my red polo shirt and black converse were an homage to the Glee outft. In season 6 episode 9, when the strange New Directions, now including 13-year-old boy, perform “Cool Kids,” they are wearing simple green t-shirts and green converse. Also, in season 6 episode 12, little Kurt says “You can’t go wrong with red and denim.” Do the colors represent the continuation of the glee club with a new set of kids? Yeah, it’s the start of another New Directions. But we probably do not get to see these baby New Directions grow, and that’s okay, because if being part of something special makes you special, then the original Glee cast is all we really need.
As someone who went to middle school and sang Justin Bieber songs in the choir room around a piano with my friends during lunch time, I basically lived Glee, and watching it end as a 20-year-old in college…LITERALLY watching the show end as a second year in college as the gang is in their second or third year in college, it’s hitting home again (and going all over the place…or whatever). I think my break from watching Glee was just me needing a break from Glee and TV shows about high school to grow up myself and experience high school for myself.
I have laughed and cried along to this show in my binge-watching so far, and I think that at the end of this binge-watching, I’m going to have a greater appreciation for Glee and what it meant to me as a kid in middle school and high school. I’m not musically talented, but I like to believe that I was Rachel with the gold stars when I was in high school, ready to fight for what I really wanted… Okay never mind… I was not as ambitious as Rachel Berry but I wanted to be! And I hope that I face the world with that same ambition, because Rachel Berry really did get what she wanted in the end (a Tony award). (And she also married Jessie St. James which is like goals).
This past quarter in college I wrote a film analysis paper on Glee: The 3D Concert Movie and it got an A, so go ahead and TELL ME that this is not worth my time!