The vibe we’re getting from clips and stories about the season finale of “Glee” is that it’s of a piece with the show’s midseason ender, focusing on the characters and New Directions’ journey to the regionals.
That’s a good thing. Because the spring episodes have been all over the place, at times wonderfully grounded and emotional and at other times nothing short of a hot mess. These aren’t new complaints — we’ve seen an undercurrent of frustration with the more-bigger-crazier direction of the show among critics and fans — but we’re wondering too: Has the show gotten a little full of itself?
For us, the biggest issue has been that where the story tended drove the musical numbers earlier in the season, it’s been the other way around since the show’s return in April. The Madonna episode was pretty much a complete write-off in terms of plot or character development, and in the Lady Gaga-centric show a couple weeks ago, the two strongest moments — Kurt’s dad (Mike O’Malley) confronting Finn (Cory Monteith) and Rachel (Lea Michele) and her mom Shelby (Idina Menzel) singing a duet on “Poker Face” — had almost zero to do with replicating Gaga’s costumes or big production numbers.
In the course of putting together these show-stopping numbers, “Glee” has too often literally stopped the show. Vulture is calling this tendency “Ryan Murphy syndrome,” noting that Murphy’s last show, “Nip/Tuck,” was also a buzzworthy hit out of the gate before its more out-there elements, which at first added an unexpected spice to the series, completely took over. We’re not sure it’s as dire as that, but things like Quinn’s (Dianna Agron) pregnancy, whatever went on with Rachel and Jesse (Jonathan Groff) and pretty much any plot thread involving Emma (Jayma Mays) were pushed aside for more music and more guest stars.
In short, “Glee” hasn’t felt like quite the same lovingly created, underdog show it was early in the season. The members of New Directions may still be outcasts at McKinley High School, but the show as a whole is the pop-culture equivalent of the prom queen. The disconnect between the down-to-earth nature of the story “Glee” is telling and the super-sized trappings it’s using to tell it has grown wider this spring, and it hasn’t served the show well.