I stick with things to the bitter end. I was, for example, that guy who kept watching Heroes from week to week, even when my wife started saying things like, “Well, we have three now. We may as well watch them and get it over with.”
Granted, in the end we got a few good, but not great, episodes. An interesting story here and there. And surprisingly, a fun setup for a fifth season that never happened.
And then the show was gone, and we shrugged and got on with our lives. Though I do enjoy the occasional internet poster who jokes, “It’s too bad Heroes was cancelled after its first season, it had such potential.”
Fox has gotten a little weird this year, racking and stacking their sitcoms for season finales, and maybe other reasons, I dunno. But I had to laugh when my mother-in-law informed me that the season finale of Glee was last night. Not because she was wrong, but because she was the fourth person I had encountered who was wrong.
Nope. Rest assured, whatever Glee fans are still out there: Next week is the season finale.
A few months ago, I wrote a long essay that detailed the various problems with Glee, what might fix the problems, and listed the reasons that the problems won’t get fixed. And most of my thoughts have proved to be more-or-less accurate. But now we’ve had a couple of really good episodes, and I think it’s worth talking about what they’ve done with the show, and what they’re going to do to the show.
And how they haven’t fixed the show, but they patched up bits of it, so that maybe you’ll notice the wear a little less.
So let’s start with last night, where they gave us two episodes, one of which was a culmination of something they’ve been working for over the last three years. They won nationals. They won because they had to win, really. That was sort of the point of the show.
But to the show’s credit, for a minute there, I thought they might lose. Even after they won, I was waiting for it to all be one long dream sequence, and really they lost again and now they were seniors and they would never get to win, and that’s life.
(And that is life. My home school football team didn’t build and build until my senior year, and then come out on top. And even if they had, it meant that 10 or 15 or 20 other teams were NOT the winners that year.)
I kind of liked that ending in my head. But no. They won. And Rachel, who lost her shot at going to the only school she tried to get into, never mind that there are probably two dozen schools just as good that she didn’t bother to audition for, got another chance to “audition,” which is something I figured out weeks ago.
Granted, I had a whole different direction I wanted that to go, too, where Rachel DOESN’T get what she wants, and spends the next year of her life in New York watching her man and best friend succeed in numerous ways while she works as a maid.
And then, at the end, she begs April Rhodes just for a chance to work backstage at her still-a-smash show. And it’s humiliating, yes, and it will be years before Rachel gets anywhere at all, yes, but she finally knows that she doesn’t get to be a special snowflake in New York, and things are not magically handed to her, and that you can break your back working at something and still fail.
I’d be more interested in that show than the one we’re going to get.
Let’s go back to what they did right.
The thing about Glee is, a lot of times the show forces its characters into various weird situations and then refuses to let anyone do anything an actual human would do. And then we get something really nicely written, and we get to remember that these actors are really good at what they do when they get to do it. This time around, we got to see Dot and Puck have this huge wonderful moment, and even if it got a little weird (Dot has a knife under her pillow? Puck gets to retake a test because he showed passion? Or something?) I didn’t care because they tapped an actual emotion.
And as far as I’m concerned, they’ve been on fire with the Mr. Shu storyline, as he’s come to realize his first real batch of kids is heading out into the world now. I only taught for a year, but when you see a group of kids that often, you get enmeshed in what’s going on in their lives whether you want to or not. There was a picture going around Facebook not long ago, about how teachers aren’t in it for the income, they’re in it for the outcome, and that’s true.
You meet these wonderful people and you become a part of their live for five hours a week, and you give them information and you root for them to succeed, or to do something cool, and then one day, they’re gone.
Glee is capturing that. And Shu is a little over-the-top on that score, and is reaching a point where he could use some adult friends, but otherwise? Nearly note perfect.
And Sue has gotten a fresh coat of spackle, which almost covers the dings, though not quite. They got another character to slap her around a bit, and are trying to humanize her, using this weird baby thing. I think they’re trying to pretend her bizarre run for a government slot never even happened, at this point.
And now there’s talk of what comes next.
Truth be told? I wish there wasn’t a next, because I can’t see it ending well.
Because we’ve had our three years now, and it adds up to a complete, if somewhat random, story. The team has won, and people are graduating, and the ratings have slipped quite a bit. This week was pretty lovely, and next week will almost certainly tie up a few more plot threads before everyone goes off to live the rest of their lives.
It would be, as the saying goes, a good death.
There’s already retooling talk, as well. The big three, Kurt, Finn, and Rachel, are all headed to New York, and now there’s babble about how instead of letting them leave, because their time is done, there’s going to be a “show within a show.” There has been discussion about how this has “never been done before.”
But, um… No. Degrassi did it for several seasons. Kids graduated, and went to University. And we followed everyone, and sometimes they intersected, but mostly they didn’t.
(Also, both shows used Perez Hilton, which to me is the final wink to the audience that, yeah, Glee is just wholesale taking ideas from Degrassi now, like the religious character struggling with faith issues, and the transgender character.)
I think in everyone’s mind, Glee was going to continue to be a huge hit this year, and next year the trio would get a show, and the Glee folks would keep their show, and sometimes they’d cross over. It would be like Buffy and Angel, in a lot of ways.
But… The ratings slipped, and now everything is all jumbled up.
And now Glee is being moved to Thursdays, where it will sit behind the results shows for The X Factor, which didn’t do all that well, and American Idol, whose ratings had eroded somewhat this year.
And with the last season being so downright bizarre, I wonder how many people are going to exit the Glee train after next week Tuesday?
You’ve got me.
One of the creators of the show, Ryan Murphy, has a new sitcom coming on the air next year, and another show besides. If he’s smart, he’ll call up Fox and quietly ask to pull the plug.
If he doesn’t, I see a slow bleed, and maybe the show makes it through its fourth season and into syndication. And yay if it does, I suppose.
But I imagine that a lot of people will stop now and, much like Heroes, go, “It was nice the way it ended. Graduation, a passing of the torch to the next group of people. Too bad we never got to see that…”