I have a big gay confession to make: I stopped watching Glee after the first few episodes of season two. I know, I know — it’s the gayest thing on TV and I work for the gayest website on the Internet; where the hell do I get off? But the show’s schizophrenia was driving me bonkers. But right around the time Brittany gave Santana that Lebanese shirt, Dorothy Snarker gently coaxed me back into it. I rewatched from the beginning and realized, “Ohhh, Santana makes it all worthwhile!”
It’s no secret that Glee hasn’t always been the most consistent show on primetime. Some weeks it teeters awfully close to the edge of white hot brilliance; other weeks it teeters awfully close to the edge of insanity (and not in a good way). But thanks to Santana, I’ve fallen for it again.
Glee returns to Fox tonight, and here are five things Ryan Murphy & co. need to do to help me stay in love.
1) Now you know what works. Do more of it.
When I’m watching Ryan Murphy shows, I always get the sense that he has no idea what actually makes them work, so he ends up throwing a lot of everything at the wall, over and over and over, to see what sticks. That’s been especially true with Glee, which is a bummer, because when it lands an emotional punch, it really lands an emotional punch. Buried in the absurdity are some organic character moments whose authenticity has scarcely been matched on network television. Instead of just wailing on the audience with tiny, ineffectual fists, it’s time to add some strategy to the blows.
Glee got themselves a full-time writing staff over the summer, which is a really good first step to making this dream come true. We need actual story arcs and consistent character development. More writing the story around the characters, less bending the characters to the whims of whatever theme is being churned out that week.
2) Keep the gay, lose the PSA.
There is no way to overstate the positive impact Glee has had on the LGBT community. And it works on two different levels: For one thing, it offers up lesbian, gay and bisexual characters in whom we can see our own struggles and our own victories. And for another thing, it unapologetically broadcasts those characters into living rooms all over America, promoting a culture of tolerance. I know a guy who called Glee “Gay” for the first half of the first season, and now he is Team Kurt through and through. Giving all of America — gay and straight — queer characters to root for is a Big Deal.
However, there are times when Glee skirts way too close to treacle-y PSAs. We don’t need to be coddled; we just need the writers to tell real stories about well-rounded gay characters. They are more than capable of giving Santana a story that follows her from self-acceptance into a relationship, all while keeping that Lima Heights Adjacent attitude we’ve all come to know and love. After Kurt’s first season struggles, he kind of became a saint. We don’t want that for Santana. We like her bitchiness.
3) Give us a Brittany we can believe in.
Brittany S. Pierce’s personal brand of earnest ditziness is an hilarious treat. She has dropped some of the best one-liners in the history of TV. But how dumb is she, really? There have been times when Glee has positively infantilized her. But there have also been times when she’s shown keen insight, especially about Santana. It’s time to flesh out her character and make her consistently believable (but still ridiculous). Whether or not Brittany and Santana make the leap to couple, there’s a powerful story to be told there if the writers are brave enough to make Brittany more than a stick figure.
4) We’ll take a full order of Glee with a small side-order of Glee Project winners.
Apparently Glee is incorporating not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Glee Project winners into this season. They barely have enough screentime to go around as it is, so that could be a problem. It would be a catastrophic mistake to give those guys their own storylines, especially in the first half of the season. I mean, gee whiz, Mercedes still hasn’t gotten her due, and she’s been a leading cast member for two solid seasons. Sprinkle in the winners, a little at a time.
5) Give Anne Hathaway a call.
This is Trish Bendix‘s special request. We know the Glee team is trying to steer clear of love ‘em and leave ‘em guest appearances this season, but it’s Anne Freaking Hathaway, and she is jonesing so hard to play Kurt’s lesbian aunt. It’d be a real missed opportunity if Ryan Muprhy refused to return her phone call. A missed opportunity for him, but especially for us.
What does Glee need to do to keep your love this season?