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Oh ‘Glee’

Maija Gustin | Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When “Glee” premiered on Fox in May of 2009, it was the talk of the town. The show, about a high school glee club in Ohio, was clever, witty, featured great musical numbers by talented young performers and really captured the highs and lows of growing up in high school. However, now in its second season, “Glee” has gone stale, relying on popular music and tribute episodes to draw in audiences. Though still successful, I think “Glee” has lost everything that once made it great. But all hope is not lost. Though I am increasingly disappointed with where the show is going, I have hope that “Glee” can regain its status as one of the smartest shows on television.

Tonight, the “Glee” kids tackle the iconic “Rocky Horror Show” in a Halloween-inspired episode. “Rocky Horror” is a cult classic and could be a defining moment for the show. Will they do justice to a beloved musical (and movie) or will they drown it in the depths of mediocrity as they so often do? Only time, and a little Time Warp, will tell. But here are my suggestions for how “Glee” could return to greatness.

Stop creating plots based around music, rather fit the songs to the plot. In the beginning, “Glee” featured really creative and thought-out plots and then picked great songs to fit into them. Now, most episodes feel like they were written in order to highlight certain songs. And in my opinion, that doesn’t work. At all. “Glee” once had style, edge and finesse, but now, the storylines are hopelessly mundane. And tackling serious issues, like religion, doesn’t make you edgy and button pushing, by the way.

Enough with the tribute episodes. The Madonna episode was great. Really great. One of the best, in my opinion. But that’s because “Glee” made Madonna’s music fit in perfectly and they took great creative liberties with her songs. So do it right, or don’t do it at all.

Learn how to transition into songs. “I don’t want to say it. I want to sing it,” is not a clever way to transition into song. In fact, it’s embarrassingly uncreative.

“Glee” covers of popular songs are great because they take an already great song and rewrite it for the glee club kids in a really cool way. The songs are tributes, but they are also totally unique to the show. Remember “Don’t Stop Believing” from the pilot? That was amazing. But now, nearly every song on the show basically sounds like the original. What’s the point in having these amazingly talented kids on your show if you’re not going to let them show off what they can do?

Sue Sylvester is still funny. No complaints there.

“Glee” is still hugely popular and I’d be lying if I said I don’t watch it regularly. But I watch it because I have faith that it can return to its roots and become truly great again. So here’s hoping.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Maija Gustin at mgustin@nd.edu