Last night, I watched the season four premiere of Glee. As if it wasn’t obvious enough in my last post, I love this show. And I was very excited to see new episodes. Partly because of the introduction of new characters and, after seeing the trailer, I wanted to see how they would deal with the graduated cast members. And, despite the fact that she’s had the spotlight all the way through, I really, really like how Rachel is still a main character and, now, with her own storyline. It was good to see Kurt struggling, too – despite some plot flaws contained in the show, at times they manage to really dig deep and come out with something great. Here, it’s showing someone who hasn’t yet reached his full potential, at a loss as to what to do. Plus, well, Rachel meets a very cute guy – possibly the best looking guy the show has ever had. (A title I would have previously bestowed on Sam.)
It’s clear that none of the characters are going to have an easy time. Rachel – amazing, talented Rachel – meets her dance teacher, who looks set to destroy her, played by Kate Hudson. It’s done quite well, and waiting for ages to show a nicer side to her, there’s a short scene in this episode where she’s seen talking to another student, congratulating him on his first Broadway performance. Behind the harsh teacher, there’s someone much more vulnerable lurking – as the student leaves, she pours herself a drink, and you can see there’s one of two things happening. Either she’s living through her students, pushing them hard because, perhaps, she sees herself through them, or she pushes them because they have what she doesn’t – their lives ahead of them and the possibility of actually making it. Or maybe it’s a bit of both. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if, at a later date, she tells Rachel “you remind me of me”. (Hey, I never said I expected originality when it came to plot in this show.)
Another thing to mention…well, it’s Kate Hudson! She’s good. And she brings something new to the show, too. Gone is the support of a teacher aiming to inspire, replaced (for Rachel, anyway) by a woman determined to push her students, to possibly make them the best that they can be. And she can dance. The main reason I was excited for her appearing in the show is due to the film Nine. If you’ve never seen it, it really is worth checking out. Hudson does a brilliant number – my favourite from the film – and that energy, the same feel from Cinema Italiano is moved to Glee.
So, while Rachel is off having her adventures in New York, what are the rest of New Directionsup to? Well…they’re supposed to be heading in a (there’s no other way to say it) new direction, but I feel there’s a flaw.The show runs the risk of simply replacing the characters who have left, rather than letting new characters flourish in their own right. Firstly, you have Marley. She, like Hudson, has the possibility of bringing something new and fresh to the show, if she’s allowed to, that is. She has a different voice and style to Rachel, which should be enough. But she looks set to be the new Rachel, no matter what the other members want to believe. Still, her storyline should be an interesting one, but I’ll return to that in a bit.
Next, you have Jake. More importantly, Jake Puckerman. A kid with a chip on his shoulder, an angry kid, a kid who can sing…so, basically, his older brother. Sorry, half-brother. Who Noah never knew about. Convenient, right? He says “I’m not my brother,” but he really is. Except maybe slightly more intelligent. The truth is, he’s going to simply step into his older brother’s shoes – teachers will love him and try so very, very hard to help him, and he will just scrape through by the skin of his teeth…maybe. Hopefully, the writers will push him in a different direction. (Also, how can Noah not know about him? Is it a secret? Because if it is, the surname might be a dead giveaway.)
Unique….ah, Unique. Introduced at the end of the last series, and someone who could have had the potential to really rival the members of Glee club. Yet they insist on bringing Unique to New Directions, causing panic among the members as they fight for the top spot. Part of the point of the introduction is to show the club is still about diversity, still different, but again, it feels like there’s the potential for Unique to turn into an exaggeration of Kurt, though more confident and comfortable in their own skin. I do like Unique, and I think it’s an interesting thing for the creators to look at, but fingers crossed, like Jake and Marley, they’ll try to find a way of keeping these characters separate from Rachel, Noah and Kurt.
In terms of plot, the first episode kicked off with New Directions being the best club in school. Everyone wants to be a part of it, and the members enjoy, for the first time, a taste of real popularity. And they see what it’s really like. Popularity, for this school, means insulting the dinner lady and making fun of anyone who is different. It strikes a chord with anyone who has ever seen how bitchy and horrible you have to be to stay on the top, and rather than Artie, Tina and the others viewing it from the outside, they now get to see the pitfalls from the inside. And it’s great to see them come through at the end for what New Directions has always stood for; stereotypical diversity. Yes, the characters are stereotypes and at times, not very well thought out, but hopefully, as the writers hit the fourth season, they may just push slightly away from that.
But I’m not holding my breath. For all its flaws, Glee remains one of the happiest shows on TV, yet still has the ability to have me, at least, in tears at times. So I’m going to take it for what it is, and just hope it improves. After all, with Smash and Nashville, it now has competition for musical based TV shows, and competition can only be a good thing.