What Went Wrong With 'Glee'?
What Went Wrong With 'Glee'?
It's always a funny, isn't it, when you pay a visit to the elderly.
Glee turned 100 last night. Rather, Glee aired its 100th episode last night, and visiting the series again on this milestone of aging was a lot like anytime you visit someone so elderly. You realize the person's become hopelessly senile, a fact you have to forgive if you ever want to enjoy your time with them. You see that they've lost their sharp wit and edginess, but you've long come to terms with that. And visiting them, as was the case with Glee Wednesday night, often turns into a walk down memory lane when, let's face it, things were a whole lot better.
Because while Glee's 100th episode was just the right amount of wistful and wacky and overflowing with crisp and expertly executed musical numbers, it was also really freaking sad. Not, like, sad because its content was particularly emotional (though a nod to the passing of former star Cory Monteith did cause those rusty tear ducts to spring a bit of a leak). But because it was a depressing reminder of how the steady, certain march towards death—only one more season of Glee left!—only illuminates the vibrancy and vivaciousness of the good ol' days: youth!
(In this case, "youth!" refers to "Glee seasons one and two!")
But alas, there we were, all sitting around the community room in the old folks' home—excuse me, the McKinley High choir room—knowing we were in for an awkward visit, but determined to grin and bear it and find the joy in it. The song-filled, tightly-choreographed joy. Mercedes (Amber Riley), Quinn (Dianna Agron), Brittany (Heather Morris), Mike, (Harry Shum, Jr.), and Puck (Mark Salling) were there. Hardly functioning—but buckets of fun!—drunk April Rhodes (Kristin Chenoweth) was there, too.
For us, the reason for the visit was Glee’s official entry into old age, the 100th episode. For the alumni of New Directions, it was fact that glee club was being canceled, for some godforsaken plot reason that's not worth typing out here, and each of them thought the dissolution of their high school chorus was occasion enough to drop hundreds of dollars on plane tickets to fly back from college and leave every obligation behind for an entire week. Glee!
Determined to make this a nostalgia-fest, the returning cast members sang songs that were their characters' favorite in earlier seasons. And they nailed it. They really did! Lea Michele and Amber Riley served up a Fourth of July's worth of vocal pyrotechnics singing "Defying Gravity," while Naya Rivera (Santana), Dianna Agron, and Heather Morris torched the screen during their scorching version of "Toxic." As Kristin Chenoweth pranced around the choir room with the glee kids like a deranged Maria leading a parade of emotionally needy Von Trapp children during the "Raise Your Glass" opener, it was impossible not to smile and bask in the nostalgic, well, glee of it all.
But as much as Glee's 100th episode cannily celebrated two important pillars of what makes the show special and worth watching—fierce talent and unabashed expression—it reminded us of all that's crumbled around those two remaining pillars—what we used to like so much about the show, what the show used to be, and what it used to represent.