As Glee grinds down to its core cast’s final flings, it just couldn’t resist one more onslaught of message-making. This week’s confrontation with hard truths concerned domestic violence, for which I applaud Glee, just as I applauded its stern stare at teen suicides and the insanity of texting while driving.
But isn’t the show’s name Glee? I mean, those messages matter, certainly, but so does entertainment, and how much of this tearfulness can we take, including the add-ons of Rachel’s totally uncharacteristic and thus implausible choke in her big NYADA audition before guest judge Whoopi Goldberg, and Puck’s completely characteristic yet “what was all that studying for?” failure on his geography exam.
Well, Glee started out as a show about losers. But I suspect that, come senior prom, Nationals and graduation, we’ll have something to be truly gleeful about. So for now, let’s accept such substance — substance for which Glee rarely gets credit, despite so many moving and meaningful moments over its three seasons.
BTW, to the haters who rant Glee is just about “cover songs,” I say this: Anyone who thinks Glee’s inspired unplugged spin on Florence + the Machine’s Shake It Out was just a “cover” just wasn’t listening. Gawd, that was one of the season’s best performances. Nor was the boys’ rousing punk version of My Fair Lady’s The Rain in Spain the same ol’ thing either.
As far as faithful renditions went, the staging and showmanship made both Cell Block Tango (from Chicago) and Alice Cooper’s School’s Out wildly entertaining, especially the latter. And Kurt’s Not the Boy Next Door, while still too corny and disco-ish for my tastes, was one of Chris Colfer’s most complete performances, especially the dancing.
That leaves Rachel/Lea Michele’s Cry, from Kelly Clarkson, as a fitting finish to a tearful episode, what with Rachel seeming to lose her Broadway dreams (any chance Goldberg’s judge was observing in what seemed an empty auditorium?). But of course, her failure and Puck’s were trumped by Coach Beiste suffering the atrocity of her husband hitting her.
You will find few men as ardently supportive of women’s rights as me, and I completely bought into the domestic abuse storyline as being serious, significant and above any jokes or jabs. I also get why Cell Block Tango, as great a number as it was, did not properly address this subject.
I have mixed feelings about Beiste giving Cooter a second shot — as I’m sure she does — but I say two strikes and you’re out. I also say far worse cases of domestic abuse exist, so maybe they’ll endure. You never know — and that’s the problem.
But I am glad Glee raised this issue and made it real for viewers. And to Dot-Marie Jones, thank you for one of the most touching performances ever on this show.
I love Coach Beiste — love her. In a way, she is what Glee is all about — a misfit seeking acceptance and love — far more than the cute, charming and talented kids in glee club, each of whom may not be as big of an underdog as they claim.
Speaking of glee club, I’m weary of Glee’s awkward penchant for bizarrely disregarding members of the show choir from episode to episode. Last week it was Rory and Sugar. This week it’s Quinn. Where do these people go? Why are they not with the group? The answer may have more to do with contractual limitations and shooting schedules than any real narrative truth, and that’s a shame, because it just doesn’t feel right.
That said, now that we’ve had a good cry, let’s hope this season’s final four shows deliver humor, romance and fun. Certainly next week’s Promasaurus appears poised do some of that.
Yes, Glee is entitled to be heavy and meaningful. But it’s also about the joy and magic of music, not just the torch-ballad pain and bluesy anguish.
What’s next on my playlist?
I’m ready for some Big Girls Don’t Cry from Fergie.
I’m ready for some Love You Like a Love Song from Selena Gomez and The Scene.
I’m ready for a giant-reptile themed prom.
In short, I’m ready for some glee in Glee.
— Bruce Westbrook