During the time of the show’s birth, I just saw Glee as some High School Musical knock-off that was allowed to be a bit more racy compared to the Disney original. But, now in its fourth season, this show seems to bringing in so much more depth, intelligence, and diversity–both in its plot and music choices–than what I first observed peering over its first couple episodes years back. With the clever instrumentation and “glitz-and-glamour” the screened-TV pilot is able to provide, it’s hard not to fall in love with what is has to offer.
I’m not entirely sure how I got myself into watching Glee, but thank goodness I was able to hop on during this special point of progression in the show.
Firstly, in this season, we are introduced to two different locations following characters in both the high-school sphere and the outside-world. We get a lot of relevant characters as we follow former Glee members tackling the bigger world of college at the made-up NYADA (New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts), a competitive performing-arts college where the members are challenged in pursuing their bigger dreams in musical theater. Just as in college, we follow the characters battling with long-distance relationships (“Don’t Speak” from S4E4 “The Break-Up”), tough professors who test your values (“All That Jazz” from S4E9 “The Swan Song”), and temptations which may be for better or worse (“Torn” from S4E12 “Naked”). Also, the show spices things up by testing new waters when former Glee members, now in college, are being sexually-curious (Quinn and Santana in “Come See About Me” from S4E8 “Thanksgiving”) and return to the Glee club to either “show-them-up” or because you just can’t let go (as is the case with Finn when he comes back to substitute and lead the kids–which he later learns he needs to leave and become a teacher after a heated duel with Mr. Schue in “Bye Bye Bye/I Want It That Way” from S4E16 “Feud”).
But, this show not only cleverly ties the narrative together with all the musical numbers it provides, it truly captures the spirit of genuinely talented singers, vocalists, actors/actresses, and dancers. They still manage to give off some breathtaking performances, as in Lea Michele’s “Being Good Isn’t Good Enough” from S4E9 “Swan Song”.
Although the show tackles a lot of serious, deeper-seeded issues this time around, it makes sure it doesn’t stray away from its natural charm and charisma from loving and performing songs just for the heck of it. And, just like all 80’s-era songs do to me, they just make me feel So Darn Good! It particularly surprised me when I saw this show bringing in songs kids my age probably don’t normally listen to–from Tears For Fears’ powerful ballad “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” (S4E3 “Makeover”), Peter Gabriel’s nostalgia-ridden “In Your Eyes” (S4E15 “Girls (and Boys) On Film”), to Wham!’s funky hand-jivin’ “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” (S4E17 “Guilty Pleasures”). But, you can’t help but root for those Spice Girls when they take on “Wannabe” from S4E17 “Guilty Pleasures”:
What probably stuck me to this show this season the most was the introduction of the “New Rachel,” better known as Marley, played by Melissa Benoist, who provides a shier, more reserved and insecure element to the show in which I can find someone I can really relate to. Known as the sweetheart of the bunch dealing with shame from her mom working in the school kitchen, having money issues, experiencing an eating disorder, and indecision when it comes to affections (how crazy relateable is all that?!), she provides a breath of fresh air to the bunch as she reminds us of all the joys, insecurities, and feelings we all had, or may still be experiencing, from high school. This is my absolute favorite performance this season from her, singing a simple, stripped-down version of Britney Spears’ “Everytime” from S4E2 “Britney 2.0”:
Blaine, played by Darren Criss, is an important frontrunner for the group as he holds up the power and charisma for the Glee members, tackling many songs throughout the season and giving off solid performances, whether it be baring his heart all over the floor, or pumping up the crowd with as much energy he could give. My favorite performance from him is of 80’s-legend Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)” from S4E17 “Guilty Pleasures”. But, you can’t help how cool and rock-ridden they mashed together Bob Segar’s “Old Time Rock & Roll” with “Danger Zone” from Top Gun in S4E15 “Girls (and Boys) On Film”. Talk about the perfect 80’s mash-up!
As fun as high school was, it’s important to remember the cheesy and romantic moments–and because this performance was just too darn cheesy and cute, I had to put this here. “You’re All I Need To Get By” from S4E14 “I Do”:
As goofy and cheesy as this show can be, it manages to hit some real home-runs with clever instrumentation and harmonizing, as in Rachel (Lea Michele) and Brody’s (Dean Geyer) last performance together in the utterly heart-wrenching Radiohead’s “Creep” from S4E17 “Guilty Pleasures”. As one of my favorite songs, this struck me as a real brilliant surprise and a must-see.
I’m not sure for how much longer I’ll be following this show, but for any music-fan and cheesy-lover of high school romances, dramas, and young pursuits and ambitions (this show strives to be utterly relevant anyways), I can be sure that my mind and ears will be glued to this show for a while, and, as I’m afraid to admit–I’m a fan. Talk about a real guilty pleasure, ya?