Confession time. For someone who is reasonably educated and snobbish about pretty much everything in the world, I love my trashy TV shows. Indeed, guilty pleasure is a term lost on me, as I feel little guilt when watching them. Glee is probably at the pinnacle of this televisual mountain, and deservedly so. Yes, it is basically the drama equivalent of a Simon Cowell reality show, but that is why it works: the creators do not hide the fact that they are producing for a mass market rather than a discerning few. It is called being canny, and it has being going on for years.
This is why it is so painful for me to admit that I really am struggling with the third season. I have spent today trying to work out why. Sue Sylvester is as great a comic monster as ever (better since she picked up Lauren has her sidekick), so it cannot be that. And it is not the fact the show basically rehashes the same plotlines week after week, although if Finn and Rachel do break up again then there are two conditions: 1. he does not go back to Quinn and 2. it is for good- no doing calf eyes at each other over a Broadway ballad please. Repetition for the most part is fine- the soaps have been doing it for decades.
Then it hit me. Two major issues have arisen, both related to the other. The first is the new, moody Mr. Schuester. Gone is the high-fiving liberal teacher, someone who offered the saccharine to Sue’s salt. Instead, there is an ambitious megalomaniac, the kind who got parodied in the first two seasons. The fact is we already have one adult character who achieves through brow-beating, and Matthew Morrison just cannot compete with Jane Lynch at pulling this off.
The second problem is that this group started as a mixed bag of outsiders and people wishing to escape their stereotypes and cliques but has now become a vicious circle of egomaniacs trying to undermine each other either professionally or personally. This was fine when it was just Rachel’s arrogance or Santana working for Sue, but when it is virtually the whole group it becomes disconcerting.
In both cases, the issue is professionalism. Schuester and New Directions have both lost sight of what the group is about. Either this a plotline the producers are going with and everyone involved is going to come to the senses, or the producers are guilty of the same sins as the characters. This show is about feeling good and dreaming impossible dreams. This show is more fun when New Directions fail, because that makes them human. Hopes of success are tearing the characters apart, and doing the same to the show itself.