Glee, a show about a singing gay farmer who turns unicorn turds into fertilizer, has always been a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. When it started, those that loved it really, really loved it and those that couldn’t get past a bunch of twenty-somethings breaking into song in the high school halls thought it was the most ludicrous piece of unicorn turd they’ve ever seen. The problem came when those of us that loved it thought it became a unicorn turd.
So many recovering Gleeks have the same story, about how they feel in love with this dark, quirky, campy show that used music so cleverly only to be turned off by the ridiculous, incoherent, still campy show that used songs to get people to buy Darren Criss‘ iTunes downloads. When was it that you finally tuned out? Was it after one of the sucktastic theme nights (Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Rocky Horror)? Was it after the expensive and idiotic Super Bowl/Thriller episode? Was it after the craptastic Christmas special where none of the characters were behaved at all like themselves? That’s when I finally tuned out, finally giving up on the drama that made me cry every week and sweat with anticipation until the next episode.
But, like a prodigal son or Judy Garland, I’m coming back for more. When Glee returns tonight after its long winter’s nap, I’m going to have my DVR set up and my popcorn all popped. What changed?
Well, it’s not Glee, that’s for sure. It’s more like I’ve had an attitude adjustment. Glee has changed too, but instead of growing apart, we’re finally coming together. When the show first started, I thought we were going to be boyfriends. Then it shifted into something pandering and humiliating. It’s like committing to someone who seems mature, insightful, and intelligent and then later finding out that he’s been a prostitute the whole time. That’s why so many people broke up with Glee, they just couldn’t take the dirty secret that it was a professional rent boy.
I certainly couldn’t. I continuously harped on how it had to get better, how the stories should make sense, how it should have dramatic impact. I expected it to act like the husband it was on our first few dates (i.e., the first half of Season One) and tried to change it. I missed all the signs early on and I should have known all along that it was walking along the West Side Highway in a crop-top and too-tight jeans trying to please anyone with a $20 (or at least $.99 a download). I was trying to give Glee the Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman treatment it didn’t want, and we just fought and fought and fought because of it.
After some time away, I know that Glee is a garish slattern, and that’s okay. Rather than looking for original storytelling and deep insight, I’m back for the cheap thrills. I’m in for the Mercedes high notes, the dreamy guest stars (like Matt Bomer!), and the full-scale production numbers. I’m in for the intricate costumes that come out of nowhere and the plots twists that also come out of nowhere and new disposable characters every week that come out of…well, most of them come out of the closet and the rest come out of nowhere. I’m in for finding room for the winners of The Glee Project and giving Ricky Martin as many songs (and as few shirts) as he wants.
Glee is not the man you marry, it is the hustler you f**k. Instead of bending on one knee with a ring, I’m out there on the West Side Highway with my $20 ready to get my kicks. That’s why I’m watching Glee, because I’ve decided to stop trying to make it something it’s not and just enjoy it for, ahem, the ride.
What do you say, ladies and gentlemen? Are you with me?
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan