Glee Review: Messy Love, Storytelling

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New year. New Glee! Following a Christmas episode for which I could not hide my disdain, that was the attitude I adopted heading into the winter premiere, "Yes/No."

It lasted about .07 seconds, I'm sorry to say.

Within the first five minutes, this was the random sequences of events thrown our way: an immediate cover of "Summer Nights" from Grease; the announcement that Beiste and Cooter eloped; a Becky-based narration by Helen Mirren because people with Down's Syndrome can apparently sound however they want to inside their head and because, hey, isn't it hilarious to hear a British Oscar winner say the words "bitch" and "reals?!?"

Oh, and the most ridiculous, hardest to believe storyline of all: that Will Schuester plays fantasy football.

Singing While Swimming

Look, I get the argument that Glee is simply meant as a fun distraction for an hour. It's just about singing and laughing and dancing and people like myself shouldn't bother to analyze its lack of storytelling or direction because that isn't what the show is about.

I don't buy the argument - because Ryan Murphy and company have come out many times and said they have grand, societal messages in mind when it comes to the show, meaning the creator himself has said this is really intended as the polar opposite of a carefree, mindless experience - but, hey, I have no problem with those who want to sit back and let the music wash over them.

But an episode such as this made one haphazard effort after another to try and tell multiple stories, to try and develop various characters. It wanted fans to be fully invested in supposedly heartfelt moments... but I couldn't have been the only viewer shaking my head when the plot wanted me to be wiping my eyes.

You know how we're always talking about moving toward marriage? Emma asked Will at one point and I wanted to scream: NO! WE CERTAINLY DON'T KNOW THAT AT LEAST! THE SHOW GOES WEEKS AT TIMES WITHOUT GIVING US A SINGLE WEMMA SCENE! WHY WOULD WE HAVE ANY CLUE YOU TWO WERE HEADED IN THAT DIRECTION?!?

After spending two seasons actually planting decent seeds for this potential couple, Glee held down the fast forward button, just got them together in the offseason, ignored them for months and asked us to believe they were each other's soulmates. I was incredibly impressed by the choreography of the proposal scene, but I couldn't have cared less about the proposal itself. You can't just decide to tug at my heart strings one week, Glee. You need to earn it.

Moreover: come on. Are we meant to believe that Will really doubted his future with Emma because of her disease? Or that he has zero friends? (What about his pals in his fantasy football league?!?) Finn takes him ring shopping? Finn is his best man? Why not develop Will as an actual human being, not just a prop through which New Directions can sing and whine? That's really all this proposal was about, an excuse for the club to take on a new assignment.

Yes, Will used his proposal as a school assignment. What a complete tool.

Relatedly, Finn asked Rachel to marry him. Some may have taken his gold star-inspired speech as beautiful; I took it as pathetic. It's not a romantic notion to propose because the only meaning you have in life is your love for someone else. Your love should not define you, it should complete you (right, Jerry Maguire?). Yes, it does make sense that Finn would feel so lost and confused after hearing such news about his father, but about that:

WTH?!? I see no reason to believe everything about this story wasn't written the day before shooting. From Finn wanting to join the army, to the out-of-left-field admission by his mother, to his question for Rachel... again, no build-up, no investment. Just an utter lack of quality storytelling all around, and all in the name of trying to shock viewers with an ending they can talk about the next morning.

When was the last time Finn even mentioned his father? Now he wants to follow in his footsteps... wait, now he learns some seriously horrifying information... wait, now Kurt is somehow turning this into a sob story about his future at NYADA... and wait, now Finn is proposing. Seriously, that ALL happened in this one episode and that was just one of maybe six storylines the show spewed forth. What's the rush, writers?

This could have been a fascinating arc for Finn if the show possessed a shred of patience. It could have felt like actual character development, stretched over the course of multiple episodes, instead of a series of random events crammed into one hour at the last second.

It's just the same for everything else about the episode. We literally saw Mercedes holding Sam's hand for one second at the end of one episode. Now she's singing about him and fantasizing about him and Glee wants us to root for these two because... because it's in the script, that's pretty much the only reason.

And did NeNe Leakes really make a pun about 40 Acres and a Mule, the post Civil War act that provided land to former slaves? What the heck is going on here?

I know it isn't fun to read a critic bashing a show you like. And my intention is not to belittle those who still get enjoyment out of Glee each week. But it's my job to write an honest assessment and, my goodness, the wheels have fallen off here faster than whatever storylines the show will burn through in two weeks when it returns... with a random Michael Jackson tribute episode. Sigh.

What did you think, Gleeks? Did your heart burst at Will's proposal? Or do you wish we had spent more time with this couple prior to the big development? And what about Finchel? Will Rachel say yes? Should she? Debate these questions now, browse through my favorite Glee quotes from the hour and also check out the following Glee music from the episode:

  Song Artist
Glee cast moves like jagger Moves Like Jagger Glee Cast iTunes
Glee cast wedding bell blues Wedding Bell Blues Glee Cast iTunes
Glee cast without you Without You Glee Cast iTunes
Glee cast the first time i ever saw your face The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face Glee Cast iTunes
Glee cast summer nights Summer Nights Glee Cast iTunes
Glee cast we found love We Found Love Glee Cast iTunes


Editor Rating: 1.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.8 / 5.0 (396 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


S1 was amazing...downhill ever since. :( Too agenda driven for my taste. So now I just sit back and let the music wash over me...and the occasional gem from Sue and Beiste. I'm just glad that it felt like RM took a night off from his soap box.


This review said everything I was thinking! Glad I wasn't the only one who thought this was a messy episode. It was way to jumpy and a lot of the stories could've definitely been separate episodes. Glee was amazing the first season, but now it's becoming painful to watch! The show has gotten weird and there are too many characters! If each character was given their own episode, Glee could have enough material for like 2 more seasons! Think about it.


The problem with Glee is that it has such a huge cast, and has added so many more cast members this season, so the writers are stuck between focusing on a few characters and getting bashed for not including everyone, and focusing on most of the characters and getting bashed for not getting in depth for any one plot. Personally I prefer the former because it provides more actual plot development, and I would love to see these characters as actual people and not just part of a whole. The writers do need to calm down and give time for these plots to progress. Also, even though we all love Glee because of the songs, I feel like the songs are planned first and then the plot is planned around it, while it should be the other way around. As much as I loved "Summer Lovin'" it felt completely out of place and they could have saved it for a more opportune moment.


I was really disappointed by this episode. It was stupidly crammed and I thought it was really really weird that FInn is going to be his best man like does Will not have any friends what so ever? This review was completely right. Glee has moved way too far from the 1st season format of story lines!


I like a critical,ballsy, and honest review whether I agree with it or not as lng as its mostly objective. One of my favorite quotes is 'The problem with most of us is we'd rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.'-Norman Peale.
The episode wasnt great and there was too much crammed in for words.Glee operates on either spending too much time on a storyline (anything involving my dear Kurt) or not spending nearly enough on a storyline (anything involving the backseat characters).Wemma did move fast because we havent really seen it much this season we've just been told about it. Id love a thorough samcedes story they somehow manged to take a step forward with an unorthodox couple but 2 steps back by not having the balls to actually show them as a couple.They have decent ideas but crappy execution.I liked having it back on and enjoyed many parts of the episode but it was too much going on at once.


The music was great.
The plots were coherent.
I predicted that Becky would hook up with Artie and Will and Emma would get engaged.
I wrote that I wanted Sam to compete with Shane all season for Mercedes. I hope it takes all season and Sam wins.
I'm glad Blaine didn't say a word, but neither did Puck, Quinn and Britney. Rory got one line in a song. Mike had one line. Tina got two lines and a stanza.
Rachel sang three times. That balances her non-singing episodes but was a bit of overkill.
When does Burt go to Congress? They started their session yesterday and he should have been sworn in. The one spinoff I'd follow would be Burt in Washington. Of course a new campaign will start for his seat presently, and since Ohio loses a congressman this year he may have to challenge an incumbent. Let's get a debate between him and the real congressman from that district by summer.


You're right. It isn't fun reading on a critic who does nothing but bash on the show. I don't care if you didn't like it. I enjoyed the episode. I need to stop reading all the haters because of all the negativity brings me down from a high in watching the episode.


Well, I appreciate a subjective review on any TV show.
In fact, I find it preferable to "reviews" whose gist are: "OMG! I f-ing LUVED this epi! Best show EVAR! YAY!"

Miranda wicker

I'm so, so conflicted about this episode, and this season at large. I love this show and I'm faithful to it, but this is far from the show it was in the first season. I agree that far too many story lines were crammed into last night's episode. BUT--had the writing been tweaked slightly, all of it except Becky/Sue could've worked. For instance: They could've balanced the heaviness of Finn's story with Will's proposal to Emma. Her parents are assholes and he knew that so why care what they think? Oh, right, to give Wemma a poignant moment. It could've been written so that he proposed and she had second thoughts about burdening him with her disorder. Finn's proposal even could've stayed. Having Sam join the swim team for a letter jacket to get Mercedes back and having her think of him when she sang would've been enough build up to them getting together in an episode or two.


What do I think? I think they need a new reviewer...maybe someone who actually enjoys the show for what it is. If you couldn't see where Will and Emma's relationship was heading, I have to assume you don't really watch the show but then how would you review it? Seriously, if you hate the show, resign and let someone who likes it write the weekly reviews.

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Glee Season 3 Episode 10 Quotes

Is that a mohawk, Puckerman, or did someone glue a squirrel to your head?

Betty: I, Betty Faye Jackson, am the hottest bitch at McKinley High School... you may be wondering why I sound like the Queen of England. It's simple: in mind, I can sound like whomever I want. So lay off, haters.