Written by Duana

I really want to be able to snark on this show but I am in from about minute three, when they get so excited about ‘Breadsticks’, the delicious all you can eat bread restaurant. Girls making out because “I’m like a lizard, I need something warm beneath me or I can’t digest my food”. It’s cheap, but it gets me in. So immediately I’m on a seesaw of whether to buy this or not.

Rachel and Finn decide they have to be good and throw the competition to be nice and save the regionals. Or the sectionals? Here’s the deal, whatever the hell it is will only happen in February sweeps. Because ‘Nationals’ will be in New York in May sweeps. Unless they keep these kids in their sophomore year forever. Which is a possibility. I’m on a down.

Still down: Lea Michele’s bangs have outstayed their welcome. What IS it with bangs like that? I’ve had them, I’ve seen it happen to others – they look totally fresh for three weeks and then they’re just exhausting and aging. Why?

Glee is walking aournd some pretty fine lines here. “If I pursued a girl the way you pursued me it would be harassment.” Yep. “I don’t have a problem with gay dudes, but they do, and we live in their world.” I would like to believe this isn’t true, but I bet it is in parts of the Midwest. A major up, and an up to Kurt, usually so unimpeachable, for playing the guilt just about right.

Also an up? The best part of this show is the relationship between Kurt and his dad. They talk openly, they always have. They navigate around each other’s poor points, but they are so sensitive to one another. Nobody tells Kurt to stop trying to drag people over to his way of thinking – which is just as bad as pushing the Christian right, as we well know – but it’s implied, subtly, sweetly. We get that this is a struggle this boy will continue with.

A down: how many showers do Teenage Boys take? I know it’s great that it’s a sexy place to set a scene, but realism wise, teenage boys never, ever wash. Right? I mean, isn’t that why math class always kind of reeked? Then again, no girls in any gym class I was ever in EVER showered, so maybe it was our fault. In retrospect.

An up: Realism check. Screw Gossip Girl and 90210 – these guys are excited about a free dinner at a chain, because that’s probably the reality for most kids their age.

BIG BIG UP: At this point in the show I realize we’re not going to see Ms. Pillsbury! Or any annoying adult plot! No SUE! (I know you’re preparing your voodoo doll of me, some of you.)

A down, disguised as an up: Chris Colfer is the reason all of this works because he’s ridiculously endearing, but let’s talk about how no high school kid is that self-posessed. I know we saw him get tossed in dumpsters early on, but where’s the hurt that happened to him somewhere along the way? What did he go through to be this self-actualized? Is this just what it’s like to grow up millennial with lots of media access? Glee the show seems to believe you still get tossed in dumpsters but maybe you’re OK about it because you wear Marc Jacobs. In this age of “It gets better” I would love to believe it’s true but I’m hedging my bets.

An up, disguised as a down: I delight in ragging hard on Quinn. Here are some of the reasons why. She’s bland. Her blonde simperingness does nothing for me. Her quest to ‘be on top’ never looks like anything except curling her ponytail right - and her voice is full of air. But -- she really does do a nice job when she’s required every now and then to emote, specifically as a character who doesn’t want to emote or feel. So I am acknowledging this.

A down: If you wanted me to root for Mercedes and Santana, could they have sung something with, like, a melody? Vocal Olympics sometimes just feel exclusionary.

An up: Mike Chang and Tina’s song was really really cute. Again, they’re acknowledging things. Like that he can’t sing. Which makes me impressed. Or maybe they’re just trying to get to all the jokes before all the critics can.

Up: Okay, fine. “I thought I was over somebody, but I’m not.” “The Clintons?” HEH.

An up: I really have to give it up to this show. As much as it drives me bazonks sometimes, it’s big ups to the differently abled actually being in the show. Artie isn’t just a setpiece – at least, no more than any of the others. He gets storylines, he gets action, they are not just making him a tertiarty figure.

Major down: Wait, what? Why exactly were Finn and Rachel eliminated? I get that they threw the competition, but…it was just because it was a nun and priest, in theory? As if anyone in the damn place cares about the maligning of the clergy? Are we serious now? Do you want me to believe that Santana has feelings about a priest, ever at all? Or that Mr. Schue cares? Quinn, OK, I can kind of buy. And Rachel and Finn knew this?

Down: Quinn and New Guy sing a song that gives us the exact season arc for the next five episodes. Fine, we get it, they will date, someone will get their heart broken, the end.

Another major down: ….and then they ruin it by having Artie get all emo about his sex being ‘important’. I mean, come on. Is he a teenage boy, or isn’t he? Maybe I’m totally out of touch, but come ON. I thought we’re supposed to believe he’s just like any other teenage boy.

And then, this one I can’t decide, up or down - Rachel and Kurt decide the best way to deal with themselves is to sing another duet, and I am so, so conflicted over this. Because the song is all jazzy swingy New-York-At-Christmas, and I am a cheeseball, and I LOVE that stuff, and yet it’s so utterly nerdy and they look like they’re in their early 30s in their satin outfits, and Lea Michele hasn’t learned to belt without giving herself a double chin that she doesn’t have, and I want to kill them both and this show for acknowledging that this kind of thing can even appear on TV. And that this is what teenagers care about

So….where does that leave us in the tally, again?

Here’s my final thought. I know the deal with being kind of a loser in high school. I know you’re shocked. I know the deal with thinking nobody’s ever going to understand you. But a friend of mine once told me a book editor said “show me a kid who had trouble growing up, and I’ll show you a potential bestselling author”. The idea being that suffering when you’re young (if you can call being slusheed ‘suffering’) makes you better equipped for the real world.

So is this show a one hour reprieve in a long hard growing-up process that is being a teenager? Or is it telling kids that you should only ever let your freak flag fly, dress up in your satin outfits and imagine that you’re headed for Broadway? I mean, Glee clubs make people happy. Is this American Idol disease disguised, or would a 14 year old me smack me for being so cynical? I imagine this is a season-long discussion, but still. Let me know.

Attached – Matthew Morrison at an event last week.

Photos from Wenn.com