To Glee or Not to Glee . . . – Some Thoughts on Glee’s Season 4 and “The New Rachel”

Eventually, everybody graduates . . .

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. .  . well, almost everybody . . .

It’s a fact of life faced by every television show that centers around a high-school aged cast of characters.

I mean, sure, you can make time stand still for a little while . . . waving that magic TV Land Wand that converts three years into one REALLY, REALLY, REALLY LONG YEAR.  You could never show a summer vacation . . . put that “Prom Episode” off indefinitely . . . cover up your perpetually 17-year old male character’s increasingly receding hairline, by giving him a sudden fondness for hats.  But, just like death and taxes, it’s inevitable . . . EVERYBODY GRADUATES . . .

So, what’s a show to do?

Well, as a television producer, you have three options really.  Option 1:  You bow out gracefully . . . end on a high note, with your cast of characters triumphantly tossing their graduation caps into the air . . . play a mildly wistful Top 40 tune about memories, as you quickly run through a montage of some of your show’s best moments . . . then fade to black as your television show shuffles off to that increasingly populated High School TV Graveyard in the sky . . .

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Option 2: You attempt to tackle the Dreaded College Years . . . the ones that . . . let’s be honest . . . for most of us, were about TEN TIMES BETTER than high school, in real life, but, for whatever reason, never seem to translate all that well on the small screen.  You try to explain away haphazardly, the reasons why your school valedictorian is attending the same four-year university as the Kid Who Almost Flunked his Junior Year, because he still quite hasn’t managed to master the art of “reading,” and the One Who Spent a Good Portion of his Senior Year in jail . . .

Well, OF COURSE, he’d go to the same college as certified genius, Veronica Mars!

You introduce a few new characters . . . but not too many . . . because everyone knows that nobody ever really likes the “New Characters” in shows about “The College Years,” anyway.  And besides, in TV Land, everyone is always meant to live happily ever after with their High School Sweetheart . . . right?

Option 3: You go the “Next Generation” route.  You give a couple of your most popular characters, long lost little sisters, brothers, cousins, nieces, and nephews they never knew they had.  You bring in an almost entirely new troop of actors .  . . ones who could actually still pass for 16, even if you aren’t filming them from across a really, really long hallway.  You basically create an entirely new series . . . except it’s not actually a new series, because each of the supposedly New Characters seems almost eerily similar to one of the Old Characters, who just graduated.

Unless, you’re Glee . . . in which case, you will proudly choose Option 4  . . . All of the Above . . .

That’s right, Gleeks.  In a move that will either end up being touted as ingenious, or derailed as ridiculous, the Glee writers have (1) ended their third season, in a way that could have easily been construed as a series finale; (2) created a College Years Show-with-in-a-Show for it’s lead ingenue, and a few of her most popular pals; and (3) returned to McKinley High to tackle the “Next Generation” of New Directions .  . . complete with a Long Lost Brother from Another Mother . . .

. . . and a “New Rachel” . . .

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I’ll be honest, when I first read that this was Ryan Murphy’s vision for Glee‘s future, I thought the idea was, at best, overly ambitious, and, at worst, just plain awful.  So, color me surprised, when I watched the season premiere and found myself enjoying it more than I’ve enjoyed an episode of Glee in quite some time.

By now, if you’re like me, you’ve probably already read about 25 recaps of “The New Rachel.”  So, I’m not going to bore you with another one.  Let’s just “The Good, The Bad, the U-GLEE” it, shall we?

The Good . . .

Cassandra, Jake, Marley, Brody . . .’s abs . . .

OMG!  I like most of the new characters on Glee . . .  like really them  . . .  I may even like them better than some of the old characters on Glee . . . though, I’m not going to mention any names . . .

In a world where teachers tend to be cartoonish . . .

. . . ineffectual . . .

. . . or downright irksome  . . .

I like that Cassandra July is a brand of teacher we haven’t seen on this show before . . . BITTER, EDGY, and KIND OF HOT, in a bitter . . . edgy, Lindsay Lohan Trainwreck, kind of way . . .

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Here’s the thing . . . I’ve never really been a huge fan of Kate Hudson’s.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  I think she’s a fine actress, and that she has really enviable bone structure.  I just always had trouble buying her as the Lead in a Romantic Comedy, Who Everyone is Supposed to Hope and Pray Gets the Guy in the End.  I don’t why . . . I think it has something to do with the fact that underneath those
“charming smiles,” and “witty one-liners,” she always seems SO MEAN . . .

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Enter Cassandra July . . .

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In my eyes, this is the role Kate Hudson was always meant to play.  And I just, hands down, loved her in it . . .Plus, I mean, who hasn’t wanted to pull the prissy, self-entitled, Rachel Berry down a peg or two, at least once or twice, throughout the course of this series?

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You know who else I love? MARLEY!

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I mean, sure, she doesn’t quite have Rachel Berry’s pipes, and that ridiculous cap she was wearing throughout the episode was like something straight out of a Dickens’ novel.  And yet, in a world, where every single character is LOUD, BIG, and OVER THE TOP, Marley has something truly special that you just don’t see anymore on this show . . . understated charm . . .

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Then, there’s Jake . . .

Boy, was I skeptical about him . . .

Puck’s Long Lost Brother?  The “Chip on His Shoulder?”  He “throws tantrums” . . . turns down help from the Teacher Man?  I mean, why not just paint a sign on his back that says, “I will be filling the role of Bad Boy with the Heart of Gold, thank you very much.”

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But, I don’t know . . . there’s something about this guy that I really like . . . something that screams potential . . .

Plus, I started shipping him with Marley, the minute they exchanged that WAYYY too obvious Slow-Motion-Longing-Look in the hallway, during the show’s second half hour . . .

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And then, there is Brody’s Abs . . .  Let’s just take a few moments to enjoy these, shall we?

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In addition to THESE new characters, I’m also enjoying Rachel’s and Kurt’s new journey.  For a show that’s often touted as being painfully unrealistic, I thought Rachel Berry’s homesickness, loneliness, and new-found fear of failure, coupled with the need to pretend with her old friends and family that everything was “cool,” touchingly real.

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I mean, who didn’t feel precisely like this, their first few weeks away at college?

And while Kurt’s “Glory Days,” storyline, definitely had a bit of a “been there, done that, bought the t-shirt” kind of quality, who out there didn’t get teary, when Burt Hummel told his son that he could always come back home from New York, but that he knew he wouldn’t?

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Speaking of Glee moments that made my Ugly Cry tears of joy . . . this happened . . .

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The Bad . . .

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but was I the only one who wasn’t bowled over by the musical numbers from this episode?

The cover of “Call Me, Maybe” was “cute,” but a bit trite for my taste.

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I found the “Chasing Pavements” cover kind of forgettable.  And though I loved Darren Criss’ interpretation of Imagine Dragon’s “It’s Time,” the musical number itself was something we’ve seen about a million times before, on Glee . . .

Conversely, while I adored “Unique’s” performance of “Boogie Shoes,” last season, I’m still not quite sold on the character of Wade / Unique, who kind of reminds me of Every Bad Drag Queen Impersonation I’ve Seen in Every Movie Ever . . .

Kitty . . . meh?

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I think I liked her better, when her name was Regina George, or, better yet . . . Santana Lopez . . .

And though I do love me some Brody abdominal action, the character himself seemed a bit milque-toasty, and too-good-to-be-true for me, which kind of makes me hope Ryan Murphy surprises me, by giving the character a sleazy underbelly . . . but I’m suspecting he won’t . .  .

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Finally . . .

The U-Glee . . .

Slushee?  That is not a slushee . . .

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They used to at least look like slushees, back in Season 1 . . .

And while we are on the subject of icky, if I have to spend an entire season listening to Sue Sylvester make Baby Poop, and Menopausal Mommy jokes, I think I’m going to hurl.  I don’t care how cute that baby is . . . CRAP IS CRAP!

All-in-all . . . though?  I think New Glee got itself off to a great start.  Intriguing characters . . . interesting storylines . . . newly shippable couples . . . and have I mentioned Brody’s abs?

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Until next time, Gleeks!

[www.juliekushner.com][Fangirls Forever]

6 Comments

Filed under Glee

6 responses to “To Glee or Not to Glee . . . – Some Thoughts on Glee’s Season 4 and “The New Rachel”

  1. Eli

    GOD I MISSED THESE RECAPS!!!

    It was an OK episode to me, though I miss Santana, maybe Kitty will try to compensate being a misture of Santana and Evil-Quinn… The best new character is obviously Brody’s abs ♥

    I must say that there were two scenes I loved and made me teary-eyed. The first one of course is Burt’s goodbye to Kurt (ACADEMY AWARD MOMENT). And the other one when we find out Marley’s mother is the kitchen lady. It was terrific! I’d have liked Marley to get more angry at ND for insulting her mother and postpone her entering to the Glee Club for at least one more episode. I think they could have played more with that bullying.

    All in all I enjoyed it; specially the performance of Cassandra/Kate for Americano/I wanna dance (not for her spanish, though), girl can you dance!

    You missed one tiny point I think… NO FINNDOUCHE!!!!!!!! ♥ ♥ ♫ ♪

    Huge fan of yours!!!

    • Hey Eli! Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m psyched to start talking Glee with you again this season (especially, now that I know I will, in fact, still be watching the show :)).

      Your in luck regarding Santana, I hear that she will, in fact, be featured in future episodes, and may even end up moving to NYC. 😉 That said, “Finndouche?” Also returning . . . Sorry! 🙂

      I have a feeling Marley’s mom is going to end up being the New Burt Hummel (though, of course, I hope the old one sticks around, because I’m pretty sure he’s my favorite character on the show). I can just see Marley and her Mom having these three tissue moments, throughout the series.

      Just so you know, I’m a huge fan of yours too. 😉

  2. Nina Lisa Tomlinson

    Hate to burst your Jarley bubble, Jules, but Jake and Marley weren’t exchanging longing looks. They were waiting to see if they’d been accepted to the Glee club. The way the camera kept cutting back and forth to the two of them watching Will post the list could’ve made it seem like they were looking at each other, and she did turn to look at him when they passed each other, but I think that was more because she’d seen he hadn’t gotten in and was wondering if he was going to throw something again.

    • I don’t know, Nina . . . I’ve read some things about Jarley. I think it’s going to happen (judging by the previews, possibly, as soon as next week). 🙂

      You’ve heard it here first. One month from now, Jarley will be the new Finchel only way less annoying, and that “longing look(?)” scene will be the first frame of many a YouTube Jarley fanvid. 😉

  3. Andre

    Well I haven’t caught up to the show yet, I am still at the Rocky Horror episode and so I cannot say much now. But I hope that I will be able to catch up.
    One thing I can say: I wanted to bring down Rachel so much, so often. I wanted to say to Mike and Tina to finally stand up for themselves. For Santana to shut her mouth if she can’t do anything productive with it. To tell Kurt to stop whining and take responsibility, to get Mercedes from her false diva attitude, to smack some realism in Shuster and to hit Sue with an anvil.

    One thing about Tina:
    Supposedly in some episode that I haven’t seen yet she states that “Asians” who have their hair died blond and carry blue contact lenses hate themselves, but isn’t her own hair much lighter now and wasn’t she wearing a blond wig in the first Gaga episode?

    • Good point about Tina, Andre. I’m not 100 percent sure I remember what she looked like during the first Gaga episode. (Though, I definitely recall recapping it, so there might be a screencap of her around here somewhere.) However, Season 4 Tina, definitely has dyed her hair a significantly lighter color, and may be wearing colored contacts, on a more permanent basis.

      One thing you will quickly learn about Glee: consistency between words and actions . . . and consistency, in general, has never really been one of its strong suits :).

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