Glee returned to television last night 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 aficionados—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 talk about the show's sex appeal, dropped storylines, and strongest performances:
Patrick Burns (writer, composer, and star of the original one-man-musical, From Foster Care to Fabulous): There's one word to describe the return of Glee: sexy. That's right, this week's episode was not about musical numbers or crazy plot twists, but rather about gettin' sexy.
I watched Lea Michele (who plays Rachel Berry on the show) and Jonathan Groff (who is a guest star this season as a hunky singer from a rival glee club) stage fornicate in Spring Awakening in New York and felt a negligible tingle run up my thigh, but watching them sing Lionel Richie's "Hello" at the piano together made me want to impregnate both of them. That's right, both of them.
And can we talk about Matthew Morrison (the glee club's director) and Idina Menzel (the rival group's director) making out? The answer to that question is yes, because we all want to see it again. There's even something alarmingly sexy about Idina staring Groff down militantly as he made out with Michele.
However, this weeks true sexy trophy is awarded to Jane Lynch for Sue Sylvester's Vogue. That's gonna be hard to top next week!
Jessica Reiner-Harris (member of the touring improv comedy troupe The Striking Viking Story Pirates): Glee's premiere was disappointing in its choice of musical numbers—the opening song, Finn leading on the Doors' "Hello, I Love You", in particular was awkward, contrived and uninspiring. and negated every single plot point the show had established in the season finale. New Directions won sectionals! It means nothing. Sue Sylvester is suspended! She's back now. Rachel and Finn are dating! Nope. Why should we care about any character when there is no consistency? Case in point: Finn seductively tells Rachel "I don't give up that easily," mere days after he gave up on their relationship, pushing her into the arms of the show-saving Jonathan Groff, of Michele's Spring Awakening days. I hope Glee finds some New Directions of it's own.
Meghan Brown (co-founder of the Giraffe Hunt Theater in Los Angeles): Whether or not Glee's musical numbers succeed is deeply dependent on their set-up. Mr. Schu pulling Finn into the auditorium to help him find his inner rock star ("Oh, so that's why the band's here!") doesn't work. Rachel manipulating a relatively straightforward assignment to highlight her anger at Finn does.
The number ("I Hope It Gives You Hell") starts with Rachel being Rachel. She's about as subtle as a bulldozer, glaring at Finn with her hand on her hip and stalking forward with that famous fury that Hell hath none of. It appeared that we were in for another reasonably forgettable lesson in auto-tuned blatancy...until something great happened. The song stopped being about Finn, and started being about Rachel. She'd shifted from scored woman to rock star, her vulnerability giving way to pure exuberance. Who needs a wishy-washy teen boyfriend when you can sing?
The number highlighted Glee's most resonant thesis: that with performance comes power. As Rachel, standing on a chair as her classmates danced around her, flashed a secret smile, it was impossible not to see that Finn had made a huge mistake.
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