Glee: A Graduation Dilemma
By now you’ve probably heard Ryan Murphy’s confirmation that the characters on the popular Fox show, Glee, are going to be seniors in season three. That means it’s impending doom, I mean, it’s graduation time for the core cast of the show. It’s understandable that they wish to prevent a Saved by the Bell: The College Years scenario, or become a live action Simpsons with characters that never age. Unfortunately for the show, I have a difficult time imagining a long life for it after all the fan-favorite students graduate from McKinley High. The show has adult characters, and in the interview Murphy goes so far as to peg Sue Sylvester and Will Schuester as the indispensable tent-pole character for Glee. This is unfortunate as in season two the limitations of these two characters in particular were highlighted.
Will Schuester was so much more relateable in season one as the teacher in a one-sided marriage whose involvement in making the students of McKinley High impassioned with a love of the performing arts awoke in him his long-forgotten passion for his own dreams. It also sadly woke up a fifteen year old boy’s mind in a thirtysomething’s body. Week after week, he went from a character to root for into a selfish, arrogant guy who made out with basically every female adult character on the show. Because of this crass backward step in character development, the only thing Will had going for him story-wise has lost almost all of its dramatic impact: his connection to Emma.
There was a time when Will and Emma formed part of the heart of the series, but his actions in season two have shown that Will certainly needs to learn to be single for a while. By season’s end, Will did start to make a leap back into maturity by deciding to be there for Emma in more of a friendship capacity. Perhaps a too little, too late scenario much like the development of Sue deciding she no longer despised the glee club.
As for that character, well season two showcased that you cannot always make a character out of a charicature, especially when there’s so much back and forth between the two even in the duration of one episode. But hey, I suppose that’s part of the allure of graduating the students of New Directions – if there’s a whole new slew of glee clubbers than Sue can go back to her over the top villainous roots. While I think Jane Lynch is an incredible performer even with the given material, she is worth more than increasingly predictable mean-spirited zingers and showing all the ways how one can wear a tracksuit for any occasion.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the next class of glee club members comes together. They’re going to find it difficult, I think, to get people to care about this new group of characters. Investing in a character doesn’t make much sense when they’re seemingly only there to be another voice on the pop song of the week. As it is ultimately not storylines that sell for Glee, storylines aren’t what the top-selling Glee compilation albums or concert tours are made up of. So it’s really no wonder they’re using a reality singing competition show to find one of the possible new Glee characters–a method you wouldn’t see being used for any other show during its casting process.
Let’s be clear, however, that they’ve only just assembled a new writing team (including Marti Noxon of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel writer’s rooms), and the plans for the characters post-graduation have not been revealed, or likely even figured out. There could be possible spin-offs, or check-ins with the more popular characters on the series. Glee really is a different sort of animal entirely from anything else on television and that creates a real challenge in the future for the creators and audience both as we prepare to say farewell to some truly memorable characters. Let’s just hope that by the season’s end we’ll have better stories for some of these characters than a crusade for their favorite cafeteria food, or single-minded pursuit of romantic affections. If you can give Kurt, Santana, and Lauren interesting stories than you need to be able to do so for all of the members of Glee club while you still can. Let us also hope that the adult ‘linchpins’ of the series will grow up.