Warning: The following review includes spoilers on the first three episodes of the new season (and includes rumored future plotlines in the final paragraph).
Glee’s fourth season is now in full swing, and I couldn’t be happier—or more annoyed. The new season splits each episode between the continuation of life at McKinley High and the thrilling life that Rachel (Lea Michele) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) are leading in NYC. It’s a bold storytelling move, and it almost works.
The New York stories are awesome, and that’s because the writers have finally written something right. As someone who has recently moved to NYC—from Ohio, no less—I know exactly what Rachel and Kurt are going through (I, too, moved to Bushwick when I first got to the city). They make comedic observations about life in the city and in Brooklyn that speak to those of us who live here or are familiar with NYC.
But, even though they capture living here perfectly, they still tell outlandish stories—Kurt would never really get an internship at Vogue.com purely because he’s from Ohio and wearing a hippo brooch. Of course, if you haven’t learned to accept the ridiculous stories of Glee, then you should really just stop watching. At some point you have to embrace the camp factor and just enjoy the show and its few creatively genius moments—and ignore the rest.
However, back in Ohio, the stories couldn’t be less interesting. Since the show began I have greatly disliked 4 characters—Brittany, Artie, Tina, Blaine—and they are now the stars of McKinley. Brainless Brittany (Heather Morris) now gets more songs and scenes, making her the worst character of all. Whatever charm she had as a nitwit with a comedic punchline is forever lost. Artie’s (Kevin McHale) ego has become so inflated he clogs the hallways with his imagined bravado. Poor, uninteresting Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) still can’t catch a break when new girl Marley (Melissa Benoist) steals her soloist title (as if Tina stood a chance against drama queen Blaine) in the season premiere and pushes her out of the show entirely (did anyone even see her in “Makeover?”). And without Kurt around, Blaine (Darren Criss) feels even more completely useless as a character.
The only redeeming characters at McKinley are Sam, Sue, and Marley. Sam (Chord Overstreet) is growing into his role of big brother to the gang, even as he begs Brittany and Blaine to be his best friends. Sue (Jane Lynch) is on point with rude comments and becomes more enjoyable without her obnoxious plots to ruin everyone’s lives. Most surprising, though, is newcomer Marley. When I heard they were inevitably adding new characters, I rolled my eyes. But Benoist is charming as the new Rachel; she has a great voice that is exemplary in her stripped down performances (see: “Chasing Pavements,” “Everytime”). I was fully prepared to dislike her and newbie Jake (Jacob Artist), but I’ll take them over the old New Directioners any day (they’re acoustic duet mashup “Crazy/’U Drive Me Crazy” is playing on repeat at this very moment).
With stellar guest stars (Kate Hudson is hilarious; Sarah Jessica Parker is amusing as a reincarnation of Carrie Bradshaw); some much-needed breakups (goodbye Klaine! Finchel!); and Santana’s (Naya Rivera) supposed move to NYC, I’m excited to see where this season will go—at least the NYC half (I would love to buy a DVD version of this season that contains only the NYC scenes).
You can watch Glee on Thursday nights at 9pm on Fox.