When Glee premiered almost two years ago, it had the potential to be one of the most influential television shows of our generation, generating enough hype with its pilot episode to bring show tunes and theatricality back into the public eye in a way that even High School Musical couldn’t.
However, despite the initial promise of the show, Glee’s second season has been fraught with unraveling and dropped plot lines, a decrease in musical numbers per episode and a general lack of the sharp wit that once characterized the show. Though character and story inconsistencies abound, for true Gleeks, the decline in the show’s quality doesn’t matter — the desire to know what happens next, to know if Quinn and Finn are actually hooking up again, will overshadow any gaping plot holes that emerge. For those of us who find ourselves becoming increasingly tired of Glee’s decline into absurdity, there’s still another reason to watch, another reason why Glee can still hold on to the viewers that may be growing tired of a show that seems to care less about plot and more about glitz.
Whether or not the plot quality is up to par, there’s no denying that Glee holds an important place in today’s society. The cultural impact that the show has had, especially in recent months, is undeniable. Creator Ryan Murphy began to delve deeper into storylines that centered on Kurt, a gay member of the Glee club who suffers constant bullying, at a time that directly coincided with the Rutgers suicide and a slew of other suicides amongst homosexual teens. Kurt’s storyline helped to bring homophobic bullying into a very public light, and helped open a dialogue about an issue that, in previous years, was being swept under the rug to increasingly devastating consequences. Despite Glee’s recent failings, Kurt’s storyline is one factor that continues to be dealt with in an expert manner, and it is one that truly has a necessary place in today’s culture.
In addition to Kurt’s storyline, Glee’s insistence on bringing stereotypically clashing social groups together, though overtly optimistic and often silly, is often handled with enough heart to make it seem sweet and hopeful rather than an afterschool special. Although the premise of the post-Super Bowl episode, in which the football team and the Glee club are forced to band together in order to win the football championship, seems silly at first, the overall hopeful tone of the episode sends a message that needs to be heard: maybe it’s not too much to hope that one day, traditional social cliques may not matter so much to the makeup of a school’s student body.
So even though Glee may continue to veer off into the absurd in terms of dialogue, musical numbers and dropped plot lines, it’s hard to ignore the very important place that it holds in popular culture. While Glee is not the show to turn to if you’re looking for a fulfilling plot or one that even makes sense, for that matter. If you’re looking to be instilled with a sense of hope, look no further. For a show that, all flaws aside, has expertly handled some of the most pressing issues facing teens today, you’d be hard pressed to find one that does the job better than Glee.