Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Glee: The Rachel Problem & More

Been a little busy with the kick-off of the semester, but I'm going to try for a minor new blog post.

So. Glee.

Sometimes cute. Often talented. And also quite often a piece of gooey, unkempt, poorly-defined messes.

I like Glee for some reasons, I really do. The cast is talented, there have been some stronger episodes (particularly toward the beginning of the first season), the musical numbers are usually quite entertaining, and lately when the show just gives in to its messes (i.e. Power of Madonna and last night's Brittany/Britney) it is quite enjoyable in that format. I mentioned earlier to a friend that if Glee just devolved into incoherent musical numbers (which, to an extent, it already does) I'd still watch it and truly enjoy it for the variety/cabaret like quality it could be and is best at.

There are also many problems with Glee. The writing is often weak, continuity is crap, the "realism" is pathetic, and the treatment of minorities often stumbles off the fine-line between embracing and exposing stereotypes, not to mention giving heavy-handed speeches hand-in-hand with satirical nonsense. It's these weaknesses that make me think Glee could be just as successful and twice as entertaining if it abandoned plot all together and just played with its cast of characters as is and ran it like the best, most epic variety show/cabaret. I've always wanted cabarets to make a comeback though...

Amongst my many issues with Glee, I'd probably say the biggest one right now has a name: Rachel.

Sure, many of the characters are mishandled, underused, overused, given too much credit for their lack of abilities (I'm looking at Finn's singing AND dancing), etc.... but Rachel really takes the cake for me.

The thing is, Lea Michele is undeniably talented. She's got a great voice. I'm not sure if it's my favorite voice, but it's definitely good. Clearly, it makes sense that Rachel is often the lead. She's assertive and talented. The problem? She's an unrestrained diva who never learns from her many mistakes. Rachel is not only annoying, she is often insufferable. All together, these two episodes in the second season, I think I may have liked her for all of about ten seconds, in the latest episode, when she tells Finn that she'll stop being controlling since she's discovered her own empowerment. AWESOME. GREAT. ...and then, she goes back to her crazy, dramatic ultimatums. And I think to myself, WHO DOES THIS? What kind of crazy pills is this girl on?

Rachel has no redeeming qualities. Her personality is horrible. She is controlling, obnoxious, rude, self-centered, and displays somewhat sociopath-like behavior (her "I'm doing this because I love you" shtick in the season opener, much?). Rachel also has an obsessive personality, which means when she gets on about something, she harps on about it incessantly, because she's also a loud-mouth. Sure, she "owns up" to her mistakes, sometimes, but then she goes and does another horrible thing next week. And whoops, again, and then another thing, and then she's got a clean-slate again. Seriously, I used to wonder what Rachel saw in Finn, but what the hell does Finn see in Rachel? She's pretty and talented, and that's about it.

And the show exploits this. The show is convinced that Rachel is our hero, that Rachel really does mean well, and that Rachel is worth loving despite her flaws... because why? Because she sings really, really well, and here, let's demonstrate by having her sing a big, dramatic number at the end of the episode (the modus operendi for this season thus far, and used a bit last season as well - Episodes 2, 17, and 18). We're led to believe that Rachel is redeemed because she sings a heartfelt song, but she still resorted to crazy-ass, selfish means to keep Sunshine out of the club, and she still gave Finn a crazy-ass, selfish ultimatum. I don't see how being talented makes up for being a shitty person.

Rachel is the center of Glee's problems for me, because Glee has disillusioned itself into seeing her as someone that she really does not come off as: a victim. In the first season, somewhat, when Finn was actively ditching her, I could see it, but now she's only a victim of her own behavior. Likewise, Glee has disillusioned itself into seeing its show as a well put-together, honest, real show, when it's really just a fun hot mess. The problem is that Glee has got an epic fanbase, a great appeal, lots of merchandising, and the ratings to keep going for years.

It reminds me of the second season of Heroes, however. I knew Heroes wasn't the strongest show, but I was in love with it anyways, in love with its possibilities and its conceits. Heroes too was a huge hit when it started, if anyone can remember that a few years back. But Heroes too lost itself in numerous characters, bad writing, weird plotting, and stock in unchanging characters (including, also, an unlikable heroine with Claire). Heroes fell off ratings-wise, however, killed by the writer's strike. Heroes also didn't have built-in merchandising. It was, however, also hailed for its originality. Heroes brought superheroes to network television, Glee brought the musical. Neither were first, exactly, but they were hailed as successes moreso than others, though. It seems odd, because Heroes and Glee are nothing alike in actual context, but I simply see a lot of similar problems. Glee is so in love with itself, so doting on its fanbase, and so inconsistent, doubting that it could ever go wrong. Maybe Glee will improve; I think it has the possibility, but I doubt it will.

I'll just keep on watching Glee until it's too much of a train wreck to stand anymore (give it another season). It's still enjoyable and has its moments, but I'm not recommending it to anyone anytime soon. I learned my lesson about corrupting my poor friends when Heroes was in a downfall. There I thought it would get better and was wrong. Maybe if I expect Glee to keep on descending in quality, it will actually get sharper.

And so ends my mega-long ramble on Glee. g'night folks. I'm off to watch No Ordinary Family! I also hope that is better than Heroes. >.>