Can ‘Glee’ Fix Its Own Bad Reputation?

May 5th, 2010 // 12 Comments

Last night’s Glee episode “Bad Reputation” hit the 70s, 80s and 90s, featuring only-ironically-enjoyed songs like MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby,” incredibly dated karaoke mainstays like “Physical” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” and “Run Joey Run,” an over-the-top, cheeseball song we’re pretty sure only creator Ryan Murphy had heard of before making Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Mark Salling perform it. At least we got a still-hot Olivia Newton John dueting with our favorite tracksuit model Sue Sylvester. Watch the blondes tearing up an updated, Auto-Tuned ”Physical” below.

“Physical”

As entertaining as it is seeing these two together… does your average Glee viewer even get the reference? The original “Physical” video is from 1981—almost 30 years ago! We’re not saying that the Glee cast should be remaking clips only to come out in the last year, but to spend a good chunk of screen time remaking a music video that is more than likely double the age of most of your viewers is a bizarre move.

Then again, we’d prefer if Ryan Murphy and the writers would stop remaking classic music videos altogether and spend that extra time fine-tuning all the things wrong with Glee. And yes, there are quite a few things that this addictive show could work on to make it move from a guilty pleasure to just a pleasure.

The Atlantic posted a comprehensive write-up of the three main things Glee does wrong. And they are:

1 - Reality is completely ignored on the show. ”The club’s gone through so many fancy costume changes and elaborate sets that the story just seemed like a tired retread of the choir-cheerleading rivalry Glee has come to rely on all too heavily. And as Mr. Schuester’s divorce and Quinn’s pregnancy have progressed, questions of money have largely been forgotten. The stakes in both plots have declined dramatically as a result.”

2 – Lea Michele sings too darn much. “By relying so heavily on Lynch, and Lea Michele’s Rachel and Cory Monteith’s Finn, and underdeveloping large swaths of its big and talented cast, the show is at risk of making its leads boring and overexposed.”

3 - There are too many plotholes and unanswered questions to count. ”Is Quinn, kicked out by her parents for getting pregnant, still living with her ex-boyfriend? Who was making harassing phone calls to Kurt, a gay glee-clubber’s, father? What happened to Finn’s worries about a college scholarship? And Rachel’s desire to have sex, so memorably articulated in early episodes? Also, are her dads just never home? How old are these kids anyway?”

Head on over to The Atlantic to read the rest of their gripes. Are you Gleeks just as frustrated with the show you love (or the show you love to hate) and hope it wises up? Or is Glee just straight-up fun to watch no matter how many “problems” it might have?

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  1. Bobby

    Glad you people don’t write for Glee. It’s perfect as it is and if you pick it apart while watching it, maybe you should move on to shows like CSI and Two And A Half Men.

  2. I actually liked “Total Eclipse” on the show, and thought it worked the best of all the songs last night. That said, “Physical” was pointless, and just another case of the stunt-casting/songing that’s ruining the series in the second half of Season 1.

  3. Cassie

    I know OF the song “Physical” but I’m too young to have heard the song back when it came out and I definitely never seen the video.

    I have to agree about spending less time on remaking classic videos. Maybe if it was a side thing (like how some shows have webisodes?), that would be fine, but putting them in an (tv) episode is just weird.

  4. Raff

    Right on, man!

  5. smidget

    It’s campy.

    If you tried to explain every little thing that doesn’t jibe with reality, you wouldn’t have a fun, campy show….you’d have a pile of crap that spent more time explaining things than it did exposing crazily random tunes.

    As for the remark about the “Physical” video. Please don’t insult those of us who aren’t 30 by assuming that we have lived in some shelter in which historically classic things have never managed to find their way.

    Would you assume that those of us not born in the 50s or 60s have never heard of The Beatles?

    I notice that no one mentioned that “Like A Virgin” was released in 1984, making it older than your average viewer, and thus doomed to be without recognition by “those crazy kids today.” If anything, you average teenager today is more likely to know these things because they have all the info on it they could ever want stuffed in their pockets, available with the flick of a finger.

  6. Raff

    Sorry about the ambiguity. My reply “Right on, man!” was to Bobby “Glad you people don’t write for Glee. It’s perfect as it is…”

  7. TJ

    There is NOTHING perfect about Glee. The initial 13 episodes were great and all, but the show’s hit a full-blown tailspin since then. The music on the show went from being a method of commentary and advancing the story to “which demographic are we going to shamelessly pander to this week?”. The Madonna episode was creatively stillborn, and opened the floodgates for Glee to become little more than a method for artists to whore their music out to an audience that can’t be bothered to go discover the music on their own.

    And then there’s the part where the show tries so hard to be for anyone, but the minute they try to do a good rock n’ roll number it gets AutoTuned into a cheap bastardization. Bon Scott is STILL spinning in his grave over the atrocity that was “Highway to Hell”.

    In short, focus more on telling a story with interesting characters, then make the music more interesting (both in sound and in bolder choices).

  8. Kevin

    @TJ:

    Tell me about it. Been watching Glee for a while now and loved it but when I heard Highway to Hell starting up, I immediately hit the proverbial Fast Forward button. I’m all for showtuning songs that suit it, like Dancing With Myself worked great, but let’s leave AC/DC out of this!!

  9. kevin

    Glee is great as is!!! We love to watch this show in our family! All of us ( parents, kids, and grand parents). Don’t change a thing!

  10. jade

    Totally agreed on number 2, particularly “Lea Michele sings too darn much.” and “making its leads boring and overexposed”. I love Glee but for more episodes I can count near the end, I got annoyed everytime Rachel sang. Yes she had a powerful voice… however the other cast members are talented too with individually interesting and different singing voices – and with variety creates interest. I am SO bored of every song being rachel’s, with that same dramatic face no matter what kind of song it is, and sick of watching her overpower Finn’s. (Finn’s voice is fine… more realistic for a high school glee club’s… however not so good I want to hear it every time there is a male part! And he actually sounds quite weak paired with Rachel).

    By the last group of shows I found myself just bearing through Rachel’s songs hoping for someone else to get a shot. Some of my favorite numbers are ones sung by others – Kurt, and Mercedes… as well Artie, Puck, Quinn and even Santana have all shown themselves to be quite good. Variety truly creates interest – no matter how good Rachel is, shoving her down our throats all the time is making me sick of her – imagine if you were actually in high school seeing such a blatant monopoloy on parts! (As well, by the end of the season Finn’s singing was grating… frankly, it’s questionable if he is the best of the males).

    Also, it was truly the secondary character’s storylines that I found the most interesting and moving (particularly Kurt and Quinn, but also Mercedes, Artie, Tina, Puck, Emma), and if they don’t do more with them in season 2, I think the show might lose quite a few followers. Too bad, because there is so much potential, which they are ruining by most songs and stories being about Rachel (and to a lesser extent, finn). It’s so much so now that even a friend who DOESN’T watch Glee saw Lea Michele on a magazine and said ‘I’m so sick of Lea Michele!’… I pointed out she doesn’t even like Glee, but she said she sees clips on tv and elsewhere and ‘she is always the one singing, and she totally overpowers the guy she is always signing with!’. Her saying that last night is actually what inspired me to do a little glee article searching!

  11. Best episode of the first season. Great variety of songs and emotional interesting moments will many characters.

  12. J-Ro

    I’ve seen a few episodes and they ruin songs for me a lot. They sing covers of unbearable songs and make them even more unbearable, like Barbara Streisand’s Rain On My Parade. I dislike the original, and now I loathe Glee’s version.And when they do a good cover, it’s a song that’s overused. Jessie’s Girl? I cannot tell you how many times I hear that song at Karaoke bars. ‘Smile’ could that song be anymore exploited? They also promote current songs on the billboards. Lady Gaga and Katy Perry songs are recurring product placements. Adele & Ke$ha aren’t too far behind. Originally I would have liked to hear an Oasis song in the series same with American Idol and X-Factor, but with much encouragement, I’m glad they don’t botch ‘Wonderwall’ or ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger.’ Glee makes my skin crawl,

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