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+.




I really can't comment on the show much. My boredorm with all things Glee started last season and I can't even bring myself to watch it anymore. I absolutely detest Sue, Will is boring and they've gone with way too many show tunes. Big thumbs down on this show. Hoping it actually gets cancelled and they put something in that time slot worth watching.


I love that everyone is randomly telling the reviewer that he sucks, and when he brings up the VERY valid points, everyone ignores him. You can't just blindly love a tv show and then get mad that a tv critic might not like it. That is his job, it's not being a 'hater', it's being honest. I still watch glee in the hope that it will get better, but if Finn and Rachel actually get married I am done.


@Picazo I wonder, WHY ARE YOU WATCHING if you dislike it so much? Don´t know what else to do? Or no power over the remote?


This was the best episode of Glee this season. It was fantastic, loved it! The singing was awesome, I really enjoyed it. I loved the "Grease" scene with Mercedes and Sam (both very talented), and the water scene when Will proposed to Emma (very original) LOVED IT!!. I'm so happy they're finally doing storylines about some of the other cast members (sometimes its just too much Rachel-Finn). Overall, this episode was very sentimental and it left me smiling, keep up the good work.
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This show is sooo stupid, i don’t know why people watch it. The only thing this show is doing is ruining Original song for the rest of us.


Hey Matt, I have to say, I agree with you in most of the points you made. One of my girlfriends was over to watch last night and I can't tell you how many times we laughed at parts of the show. Wemma - We have known this was coming, but you are right. We do go episodes at a time without a real scene between the two. I didn't mind the Finn joins the Army idea. I didn't even hate the abrupt information of his father. But we couldn't help laugh that Finn goes ring shopping, and will be the best man, and be at the bachelor party. Don't forget. Mr Shue is his teacher/club adviser. it's weird. Finn proposing to Rachel? I get it. The singing? On par as per usual. I also agree about Sam and Mercedes. How can we root for a couple we have barely seen? I almost forgot she had that big football boyfriend because we haven't seen him either.

Matt richenthal

I also take exception to the argument that I "trash Glee every week." Please go back and read my reviews over the course of the series. You'll be hard-pressed to find a bigger Gleek. I've despised the last two episodes, no doubt, and I think the show has gone downhill (and I'm not alone, ratings have plunged on season three) since season one... but I don't follow the logic that I have problems with Glee now and therefore should not review it.
My job isn't to gush over a TV show. It's to assess it honestly. By all means, I welcome your feedback and various opinions - but to say writers on this site should only cover shows they like sort of misses the entire point of reviewing a show.

Matt richenthal

@BrazilianGleeLover: Why isn't it meant to be reviewed as a drama? Please go find quotes from the creator of the show himself, Ryan Murphy. Think back to Glee's bullying storyline... heck, just watch last night's episode!
You don't think Glee is trying to be a dramatic, impactful TV show? If it wanted to truly be all about music, then go ahead and cover 15 songs in an hour; that would be totally different. Just choose a path and stick to it. But my issue is that there clearly are many times when it wants to tug on our heartstrings, yet doesn't earn those emotional moments because there's no build-up, the storylines have no flow and they are all crammed together into one hour of television. This episode was a prime example.


I agree with Steve's comment. The reviewer obviously doesn't like the show and ends up trashing it every single week. I totally disagree. It's a fun, entertaining show and not meant to be reviewed as a drama.

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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.