Another one of my guilty TV pleasures is Glee…maybe it should not be a guilty one given its popularity and crossover into pop-culture, but any show about a bunch of singing misfits is always going to be a love-it or hate-it watch. For those who don’t watch the show (intentionally or not), it revolves around a high school ‘glee’ club, with episodes featuring storylines mixed with songs sang by the cast. Currently in its fourth series, the action is split between the students still at school in Ohio and a few who have graduated and now go to university in New York, and has brought with it a host of new characters and plots.
I have taken to watching Glee in chunks, and over the last couple of days I’ve caught up with the 3 latest episodes: ‘Shooting Star’, ‘Sweet Dreams’ and ‘Lights Out’. A lot of people enjoy Glee because of the light hearted comedy which permeates most episodes in addition to the covers of popular songs, but these episodes feature very little of these elements and have instead relied on big-impact issues in each episode, I guess to give some focus to elements which have been in the news both in the US and abroad in the last few months.
To start with, ‘Shooting Star’ seems like a rehash of last years Mayan prophecy episode, with Brittany (Heather Morris) becoming convinced that she has discovered a comet hurtling toward Earth-it later turns out to have been a ladybird on her [fake] telescope. But from there the episode gets pretty grim…the students hear gunshots fired and subsequently lock themselves in the choir room, tensions high and phones at the ready they start making goodbye videos to their families. As somebody who knew that *spoiler alert* there was no real gunman and that nobody was in danger, even I found it hard not to be moved by some of the student’s confessions. Equally though, the over-acting of some of the students took some of the emotion away and actually made it funnier than it was intended to be. We learn at the end of the episode that it was in fact cheerleader with Downs Syndrome, Becky (Lauren Potter), who accidentally set off the gun, and as a result Coach Sue (Jane Lynch) takes the blame and ends up fired.
The episodes featuring the NYC action can seem pretty boring from my perspective, and ‘Sweet Dreams’ features a considerable amount of Rachel (Lea Michele) prancing around trying to gear up for her audition for some Streisand role. Obviously she gets it, especially after some help from her birth mother (Idina Menzel) and some singing. Back in Ohio there is the aftermath of the non-shooting…some of the Glee club have developed unfunny quirks as a result, Sam’s (Chord Overstreet) split personality/twin is probably the worst and wears thin quickly. Additionally we get to hear Marley’s (Melissa Benoist) attempts at songwriting, which may or may not have been any good…but nonetheless they caught everyone’s attention and I am sure we will hear them again in the series finale. Probably most interesting was the introduction of Finn’s (Cory Monteith) and Puck’s (Mark Salling) new adventures at the state college; topless water slides and Harlem Shake’s aside, I feel that this is a better setting for Glee as opposed to a NYC loft apartment, but given the fact that the storyline sees Finn accept the club’s invitation back to help coach them for Nationals, and also that Monteith himself has checked into rehab (and won’t be appearing in the rest of the season), we probably won’t see very much of Lima’s University.
The most recent episode ‘Lights Out’ revisits serious issues, but before I get to that I’ll sum up the rest of the episode; there is a power cut at the school (so most of the episode is in the dark), the NY gang help Santana (Naya Rivera) discover her love for ballet, and we also get a few flashes of the genius that is Sue’s replacement, Coach Roz (Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Nene Leakes). Coach Roz, like Sue herself, is one of the highlights of any episode she is in thanks to her hilarious uber one-liners and semi illegal demands of the Cheerios. Nevertheless, issues of the day preside and they are ‘Catfishing’ and ‘Molestation of Children’…pretty light topics huh. We have known for several episodes that Ryder (Blake Jenner) is being catfished by somebody, most likely one of the Glee-ers (for those who don’t know what catfishing is, effectively it is using fake pictures online to chat to/seduce somebody…go use urban dictionary!) My money is still on Unique (Alex Newell) but that might just be because he enjoys pretending to be a woman anyway, but regardless of who it is Ryder has told him/her his darkest secret about being molested by his 17 yo babysitter when he was 11. When he tells the rest of the group this they are actually very unsupportive, believing Ryder should be proud that he was seduced by an older woman. But normally bitchy cheerleader Kitty (Becca Tobin) reveals to Ryder later that she had undergone a similar experience, leading to her being accused of of lying and ultimately moving schools. This depressing turn of events ends when Ryder turns Kitty down for a date in order to stay chatting to the mysterious catfisher, even though he knows he/she is fake.
Anyone who watches Glee needs to watch these filler episodes in the build up to the season finale in 2 weeks time, but for those thinking that this sounds like a depressing mess, I would suggest you take a look online at the first 3 seasons and grab a slice of a cheerier and more catchy Glee…and if you want more then give season 4 a watch, its not half bad with some perspective