Glee: Season 3
The problem with any television series is a simple biological axiom; children grow older. If you are a show runner for such a series you have to deal with the advance of your cast from one grade to another. In its third season the popular Fox television series, ‘Glee’ faced that dilemma. In this case the series creators Ryan Murphy, and Ian Brennan face another quagmire more common to a continuing series; retaining sufficient elements of the show that garnered its acclaim while tweaking it just enough to keep things fresh and appealing. Glen hit the scene in 2009 with an incredible amount of media hype which was expertly backed up with a talented group of young performers. They became an instant success with their music breaking records on iTunes and s flood of downloads on You Tube. For a television series its effect on popular culture was more than most could have predicted. There in character concerts sold out all over the country as the cast members became overnight household names. That is an enormous amount of pressure on these men, professionally, financially and creatively. Murphy had already established himself with his two previous series, the high school comedy-drama, ‘Popular’ and the controversial plastic surgery series ‘Nip/Tuck’. Glee was unique as a multimedia Juggernaut with a lot of expectations for the third series considered here. Fox had announced that the series had drifted away from the original premise with flashy special guest stars and theme episodes devoted to a particular artist. Their announcement stunned a lot of fans in practice did not last long. By the end of the season both guest stars and special episodes were back. I don’t know where the programming executive got their research data but many of these theme specific episodes were among the most popular. While the content and direction of the series was being revised the other obstacle had to be addressed; the cast was on the verge of graduation. Either the format had to be drastically revised or a spin off considered for the cast members aging out.
Right in the first episode of the third series a couple of characters conveniently manage to state they are only juniors paving the way for a season extension in their contracts. Unfortunate the central characters were seniors and story lines had to be put in place preparing their post William McKinley High School careers. The usually rival divas, Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) and Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) set their sights to moving to New York City and attend a prestigious performing arts program. Senior year angst and relationship problems take center stage more than usual this season. life after high school looms heavily over most of the cast, Male lead, Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) realizes that he doesn’t have the academic proficiency for further education an may go to work with Kurt’s father, Finn’s stepfather Burt’s (Mike O'Malley) auto repair business. This would effectively put an end to his romance with Rachel.
One character that fell farthest from last season is Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron). She quit the New Directions, was removed as head cheerlead by their coach, the deliciously evil Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) and had to give the baby, Beth, she had with Noah 'Puck' Puckerman (Mark Salling). In a twist directly from any soap opera Rachel’s biological mother, Shelby Corcoran (Idina Menzel) has adopted the child. When we first see Quinn this season she has rebelled from everything. She has cotton candy pink hair, a nose piecing, and black clothing and is smoking. Now she only associates with the dregs of the school. She quickly finagles her way back into the Cheerios and the Glee club but is constantly scheming to get custody of Beth back. Shelby will allow Quinn Puck visitations only if Quinn cleans up but only Puck manages to measure up. Quinn plants items in Shelby’s apartment to make her look unfit to be a parent but Puck intervenes. This is part of this season’s personality shifts. Sue has always been the villain, the incarnation of evil but looking back in light of her actions this season Quinn was more self centered and malicious than Sue. While Sue is forthright about her evil machinations Quinn is deceitful. She does get a life changing moment winding up in a wheelchair after a car accident.
The scope of the series was expanded perhaps a bit too far. Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) and Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) feel that Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) is underutilizing their talent. After a new recruit Sugar Motta (Vanessa Lengies) is rejected from New Direction for a complete lack of talent, despite what delusional self assessment might say, she has her rich daddy fund another Show Choir, the Troubletones, with Shelby as the faculty advisor. As if two competing groups wasn’t enough they add the Warblers, a male group from the Dalton Academy. Their featured singer is Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) and Kurt’s boyfriend. As you might have noticed the sub plots were getting out of hand this season. It gets even more convoluted with the race for senior class president that pits Kurt against Brittany. Another major theme this season is Santana and Brittany openly coming out as a romantic couple. Every series created by Ryan Murphy has a strong Gay/Lesbian component to it.
This season was both a rebuilding season and preparation for a radical change being forced by necessity on them. While the cast and crew handled this better than I thought they would be able to the myriad of tangled plot lines adding somewhat to the confusion was the necessity to include the winners of a reality game show, ‘The Glee Project’ into the mix. Although undeniably talented the storylines containing them came across as contrived and superfluous. The season rambled its way to the predicable tearful conclusion emotionally mitigated by the fan’s knowledge than some if not most of their favorites will find some way back to season four. From a musical perspective there was a Michael Jackson tribute episode and a Latin theme episode featuring guest star Ricky Martin. Over all, this season did not rise to the previously set standards but it did not disappoint either.