Glee returned to television last month after a four-month hiatus, finally offering some answers to the questions that have been on fans' minds since December.
To help make sense of it all, we have a panel of musical theater buffs—Meghan Brown, Patrick Burns, and Jessica Reiner-Harris—to provide their takes on how realistic the show feels, how well the romances develop, and of course, how good the musical numbers are.
This week, they weigh in on the show's Lady Gaga episode:
Meghan Brown (co-founder of the Giraffe Hunt Theater in Los Angeles): As a huge Lady Gaga fan, I was looking forward to an episode that focused on the little Glee monsters letting their freak flags fly.
Unfortunately, they just weren't freaky enough.
Don't get me wrong, I thought the costumes were phenomenal. But that's the problem. The costumes were phenomenal. Everything else, from the (gasp!) High School Musical-ish "Bad Romance" to the strange duet between Rachel and Shelby (because obviously "Poker Face" is the perfect song to sing to bond you with your newly found birth mother) felt like Gaga Lite. I was hoping for something legitimately edgy and inventive, instead I felt like I was watching copycats.
And, uh, not to be a spoil sport... but why did they wear the costumes to school all week? And how did Shelby make Rachel's costume so quickly? And why did Finn's mom act totally shocked when Finn reacted poorly to being told that he was going to be yanked out of his house and forced to room with Kurt when we'd ALREADY seen this storyline play out in almost exactly the same way a few weeks ago?
The world may never know.
Patrick Burns (writer, composer, and star of the original one-man-musical, From Foster Care to Fabulous): Instead of relying on Lady Gaga's songs exclusively, this episode was smart enough to take the very essence of Gaga's music as its theme. Theatricality. Obviously this word must mean more than merely wearing plastic bubbles and singing flashy numbers. The great thing about Glee is, you can count on the above mentioned activities plus some teenage self-discovery.
When Will tells the club that the assignment for the week is Gaga, I expected "Bad Romance" & "Poker Face." I definitely didn't expect Kiss, but was pleasantly surprised by the gusto the guys brought out for this rocking number. "Bad Romance" was fun, but didn't come out of anything or lead us anywhere. This episodes strongest moments were those that were non-musical such as Kurt's dad (one of the greatest TV Dads of all-time) defending his son and Finn finally taking the lesson to heart and standing up for Kurt (in a theatrical manner, of course).
Jessica Reiner-Harris (member of the touring improv comedy troupe The Striking Viking Story Pirates): What kind of idiot would tell her newly discovered daughter that she doesn't feel like pursuing a relationship with her because it was "too late" for them? Last time I checked, a 16-year-old girl who sobs at the sight of her newly discovered mother isn't exactly an "adult" who "doesn't need" her mother.
The accepted selfishness of Mrs. Corcoran is infuriating, and it's simply a sign of weak writing. The storyline involving Rachel and Mrs. Corcoran could have and should have spanned several episodes if not several seasons. I suppose Idina Menzel only signed on for a few episodes, so the writers thought they would milk her presence. What they should have done is NOT INTRODUCED SUCH A POTENTIALLY EMOTIONAL AND IMPORTANT PLOTLINE, ONLY TO LET IT GO LIKE IT WAS NOTHING.
Glee has no attachment to any character development or plotpoint. The refusal to expand and invest in a plotline makes any event lackluster and meaningless. The one exception is their attention to Kurt's feelings and family life. Rachel's depth is gone in two episodes, and we STILL haven't met her fathers. Glee, look at what you are doing for Kurt, and apply it to the other characters. I BEG YOU.
Past Glee panels: