Sad Plus Happy Does Not Equal Sappy


Well, I’d say Glee has sufficiently redeemed itself after last week.

With a title like “Preggers,” there were only a few directions the writers could have been taking for this episode. Those little “plot twists”? Not surprising. (I mean, if I can see it coming two episodes ahead, it’s really not surprising.) But they didn’t have to be suprising, because the real value was in the delivery.

The major challenge for Glee is that it needs to separate itself from everything it is reminiscent of – and that is a long list, ranging from High School Musical and Hairspray to the teen dramas of our day (Secret Life of the American Teenager, all that stuff on the CW and the late WB, etc). I can quite put my finger on exactly what it is that is making Glee work, but the results speak for themselves. Yes, yes, Quinn is pregnant with her boyfriend’s best friend’s baby. Not an original idea by far. But somehow the characters and the writing and the acting make Glee’s version of this worn storyline so much more heartfelt than usual. I didn’t quite tear up when Finn went to Will, but it was a pretty close thing.

The one thing I have against this episode is that I really miss the music. Well done as it is, I would not have the same level of interest in Glee if it was just about the character drama. The comic relief and entertainment value of the musical aspect of this show are integral to Glee’s brilliance, because they keep it balanced and just lighthearted enough to counteract the issues Glee addresses, which are pretty serious. So I’m hoping that Kristin Chenoweth’s appearance next week is an indication that there’ll be a little more singing and dancing. In the meantime, though, I will say that Glee is the best thing to happen to “Single Ladies” since SNL. (And I’d really like to make a VMA/Kanye crack here, but I won’t.)

Kurt is growing on me more and more every episode. That first rendition of “Mister Cell-if-ane” was…we’ll say ‘worrying.’ But “Preggers” and last week’s “Acafellas” have developed him further. And, more importantly, he’s not even the token gay character any more. He’s an actual person. Glee’s other mastery is in the characterization. There is the token gay character (well, two of them, but one is also the token creeper), there are the token minority characters, but there’s no trying to pretend they aren’t what they are. Just acceptance of that fact and real, full development to make them more than what they are. Well, except Sue Sylvester. For the moment she’s still just the token villain. And she’s excellent (although I’m questioning the necessity of her little talkshow segment storyline).

Anyway, I don’t know what else I can really verbalize about my reaction to this episode of Glee. It was wonderful in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of emotional life to this show. There’s no cut-and-dry lineup of characters the audience is supposed to love and characters the audience is supposed to hate. Glee has a quality that is uniquely genuine. There’s an odd sort of beauty in its toned down drama, and a quirky charm to the comedy, which is not always meant to be as ha-ha funny as it seems the first time around. We’re only four episodes in, so Glee is still sorting out exactly how it is going to be in the long run. “Preggers” is my favorite episode since the pilot, and I’m fully expecting to be continually impressed as the show goes on.

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