With awesome dance numbers, hastily resolved storylines, and a sketchy comment about a female character's virginity, last night's Glee finale showcased some of the show's best and worst qualities. So what does the show need to fix before season two?
Like the entire series, Glee's season finale last left me torn. New Directions' Journey medley and the "Bohemian Rhapsody" number by Vocal Adrenaline (more like Jonathan Groff and the Groffettes) lived up to a season's worth of Regionals hype. They even managed to weave in a non-cheesy birth scene. On the other hand, it seems Quinn's series-long teen pregnancy storyline was tied up by handing off the baby to a guest star we'll never see again, some favorite characters didn't even have a line, and the ending left the door open for Principal Figgins to keep threatening to disband the glee club. It's frustrating to watch a show so close to being truly great fumble week after week, but hopefully the people behind the show can work out these issues before season two:
1. More Well-Developed Plot Lines
Glee's storylines are totally inconsistent, which makes it hard to know how invested you should get in the kids' problems du jour. Though there has been a lot of criticism on the handling of Kurt's homosexuality and Artie's disability, their issues were addressed over many episodes and still aren't totally resolved. Kurt's dad accepted his homosexuality, but it's still ongoing issue. Artie stopped hoping for a miracle cure, but it's not like he made peace with not being able to walk. However, there are many other stories that didn't get the time they deserved. Shelby hatched an elaborate plot so she could forge a relationship with Rachel, then when Rachel finally reached out to her, Shelby realized she was actually only interested in having an adorable baby daughter. She tells Rachel she's quitting her job because she's thinking about starting a family, and about an hour later she learns Quinn has given birth and adopts baby Beth.
Speaking of Quinn, she and Mercedes were continually slighted. I was confused when Quinn asked Mercedes to be in the delivery room in last night's episode, then I remembered they had two random heart-to-hearts and Mercedes recentely invited Quinn to live with her. Apparently that means they're best friends, even though we've never seen Quinn at Mercedes house and I don't even recall the two of them sitting together at glee rehearsals.
Also, the writers should come up with some less obvious plot devices for season two, since it's hard to believe the weekly threats that the glee club will be shut down (particularly when the name of the show is Glee). Even though New Directions losing in last night's episode clears the way for a repeat of the "win Regionals or the club is over" storyline next season, I'm really hoping the writers have a more fresh approach. However, it's hard to have faith in them after last week's episode, in which Will suggested the kids get over their funk by performing funk numbers, including a song by Marky Mark and the Funky bunch.
2. Enough With The Preachy Lessons
Though I've grown to love Glee, I was initially turned off by its After School Special moments. This could also be filed under inconsistency; sometimes the show is a high school satire, and at other times there's a totally sincere and cliche lesson being shoved down our throats. There are jokes about Jessica Simpson gaining weight and the Cheerious being bulimic, then a few episodes later Quinn is lecturing Mercedes about body acceptance and curing her eating disorder with a granola bar. Will averages about 2.5 preachy speeches per episode, but maybe this is where the satire comes in — he always contradicts himself, sometimes within the same episode. So far, Mr. Schue has taught me that cheating is wrong (unless you're in New Directions and it's the only way you'll win), you shouldn't bully other people (unless they do a particularly intimidating rendition of "Another One Bites The Dust"), and you should always respect women (except for ladies you're interested in romantically.) Which brings me to...
3. Better Treatment Of Female Characters.
After Emma reveals in the finale that she's dating her dentist, Will's first response is "You two haven't..." He stops himself and apologizes, but why is his first thought, "But you're still a virgin, right?" And why does Emma validate the question by reassuring Will, a dude she isn't even dating, that she hasn't been sullied by her new boyfriend? And let's not forget Terri, who was last seen lusting after a 16-year-old boy after faking a pregnancy. She's a liar and a shrew, which apparently makes it OK for Will to grab her violently and throw things.
4. Stop The Rachel/Finn Fest
The show did a good job of focusing more on other characters in the second half of the season. We saw more of Tina and Artie and the solos were more evenly dispersed, so it was disappointing that Rachel and Finn got so many solos last night. Characters like Puck and Santana only got to sing a line or two, but Mercedes was back to "wailing on the last note." Also, since there hasn't been much development in Finn and Rachel's relationship recently it seemed like they only kissed and declared their love for each other because they're the two leads and it was the season finale. I would have rather seen more of Quinn debating whether or not to let Ms. Corchran raise her baby. (What if she loses interest once it's an obnoxious teenager?)At least Matt and Mike were finally allowed to talk last night, even if it meant Kurt had to sacrifice all his lines.
5. More Creative Musical Numbers
It's rare to see a birth scene done well, and even though Quinn's labor was oddly lacking in blood and sweat, splicing it with Jonathan Groff singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" was fantastic. Vocal Adrenaline's red costumes and emphasis on pushing in their dance moves wasn't ridiculously over the top like the Unwed Motherhood Connection's awkward lamaze breathing in "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World" last week. The musical numbers are what makes Glee fun, but they could be more creative. Too often New Direction's choreography consists of swaying or walking around the stage while singing a karaoke version of the song. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is a great song, but Will's rendition in the finale was boring because it didn't tell us anything new about him or the music. Hopefully next season will bring more meaningful music and storylines, while remaining the most entertaining hour on TV.