'Glee': Funkiness Falls Flat



Teen pregnancy! Feuding teachers! Long-lost-mothers! Impromptu musical outbursts! Glee is nothing if not complicated. 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.

Patrick Burns (writer, composer, and star of the original one-man-musical, From Foster Care to Fabulous): I love funk. You can only imagine a fraction of my excitement when Will told the Glee kids that "funk" was the assignment for the week. I will be the first to root for a cracka to show off some funky chops, so when Quinn challenged the world to accept her funkiness, I was ready. Here I sat, ready for her to knock me over with some Chaka-something when I was left with James Brown minus the "brown."

Thankfully, Puck, Finn and Mercedes brought some flava maximus with their rendition of "Good Vibrations." This number was fun, sexy, fresh and funky and the Glee kids had an amazing time performing it. This is what funk is all about! I was disappointed when Will informed the kids that this was, in fact, not funk. However, his rendition of "Tell Me Something Good" proves that he knows what a sex-filled funk song should be.

Meghan Brown (co-founder of the Giraffe Hunt Theater in Los Angeles): This episode was horrible.

It's like the Glee writers' room took every issue that I had with the show and mixed it into some horrible plotless amalgamation of interpretive dance, uninspired karaoke, and horrible, excruciating awkwardness.

The songs came out of nowhere, meant nothing, and then disappeared as abruptly as they'd started. Quinn and Mercedes had another obnoxious heart-to-heart (because being a pregnant teenager is somehow analogous to being a black teenager?). Everyone blithely chatted about the incredible importance of regionals without ever giving any real sense of immediacy (or, uh, practicing for them).

The first 13 episodes of the season, while not perfect, had a legitimate emotional buildup that led to a fantastic finale. When New Directions performed at sectionals, their victory really meant something. Eight episodes later, and this show choir has cried wolf about 36 times too many. We know that New Directions isn't in real danger because they're always in danger, and yet somehow everything returns to the status quo at the end of every episode. In a world without consequences it's hard to feel emotionally invested, and until Glee decides to consistently honor its characters with the feelings they deserve it won't be half the show it could be.

Jessica Reiner-Harris (member of the touring improv comedy troupe The Striking Viking Story Pirates): Was I the only one who felt not only awkward, but irreversibly violated by Matthew Morrison's "funky" Chippendales performance on Jane Lynch? What was the logic behind that again? That he'd woo her and break her heart to lower her morale before nationals? And we are supposed to buy that she was struck to her core by his masculinity? Which was severely lacking during his thrusting session?

These plot twists are getting more and more irrational. This week reinforced my anger at Glee's inability, or perhaps lack of desire, to keep a character/plotline/relationship consistent. Where before we had a show that allowed us to suspend disbelief, we now have a show that forces us to disbelieve because of the complete and utter lack of anything grounded in reality.

Also, Quinn can't sing funk or throaty belted songs. Her musical number was awkward, which was disappointing because the idea itself was interesting. It seems Glee's only consistency is giving songs to singers who cannot appropriately sing them. Can anyone say white boy rap?

AND SUDDENLY JESSE IS EVIL? LAST WE SAW, HE TRIED TO HELP RACHEL FIND HIS MOTHER. NOW, HE IS EGGING HER PUBLICLY? Inconsistent, and extremely condescending to the audience. Where on God's green earth did his complete and utter 180 come from? We will never know, because Glee refuses to care that its plot twists and character shifts make zero sense.

Past Glee panels:

'Glee' Does Lady Gaga, and Disappoints

'Glee': The Saddest Thing on Television?

'Glee': From Mellencamp to Ethel Merman

'Glee': 'Run, Joey, Run' Moves Things Forward

'Glee': Two Great Songs and One Ridiculous Plot Twist

'Glee': How Much Madonna is Too Much Madonna?

'Glee': 3 Expert Takes on the Show's Return