Seven and a half years ago I entered middle school. From the first day walking around campus by myself, I had absolutely no idea what was going on and I decided I needed guidance. That’s when I started watching Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Degrassi is a show that many may or may not have heard of. Its popularity is reasonably large within those of the teeny-bopper set with access to extended cable television. The show, which started on The N, Nickelodeon’s channel for preteens which later became TeenNick, is about junior high and high school students who go through every possible clichéd teenage drama. From teenage pregnancy to suicide, Degrassi (by their own slogan) “goes there” in every new episode.
And for some reason, Glee is taking a page from the Degrassi handbook and trying to “go there” themselves.
Glee’s “Prom Queen” episode had one girl’s boyfriend fighting another, an unexpected prom queen win that while less gruesome, still rivaled to some extent the controversy of the pig’s blood scene from Carrie, among other mishaps and wrong turns. All that could go wrong really did go wrong, with a few song and dance numbers thrown in for good measure.
Even though bringing up issues that preteens and teens face in a high school-centric show is a reasonable choice of the writers, this is a new level of melodrama for Glee.
Interspersed with some well-intentioned themes are moments of catty violence and immaturity that is so characteristically high school television dramedy. For those who know Degrassi, or even newer shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager, this may ring a bell. The story lines may be intended to bring to light issues that exist in real life, but they’re told in a completely unrealistic way.
Quinn did not win prom queen and watched Finn fight Jesse over Rachel, so now she is considering transferring schools? I just could not quite understand why this was her breaking point. She went through nine months of pregnancy at McKinley without a hitch and when she doesn’t get her crown she’s ready to drop out?
Maybe this twist is intended to show the buildup of pain in her life, leading to her decision. But I just don’t really believe that to be the case. If there was a moment in this series where it made sense for Quinn to make a bold exit, it was after she got kicked out of her parents’ house, not when she lost the vote for prom queen.
The only really sincere moment in this show was when Blaine, after Kurt decides to stand up to the school and accept his crown as prom queen, asks “May I have this dance?” To this, it can only be assumed that a great majority of the female population of Glee watchers made a collective sigh and proceeded to look up Darren Criss (who plays Blaine) on YouTube.
Honestly, it is terrific that Glee is trying to be socially informative to their target demographic, but is it really necessary to drag this show down to the level of cheesy teen dramas (which have some merit in their own category, I will admit)? There are enough of those on ABC Family and TeenNick without crossing over to network television as well.
There is a reason I stopped watching Degrassi a few years after those first days of middle school. Sometimes “going there” can actually mean going too far. And that’s what Glee did in “Prom Queen.” Here’s hoping the next one focuses on sincerity.
Otherwise, the music was great. And while this is a bit off from the rest of the commentary, in this and future blogs on Glee, I will endeavor to comment on the songs performed.
The Songs of “Prom Queen”:
“Rolling in the Deep” – This song marked an exciting return for Jesse (Jonathan Groff) to the show. While the character is actually quite the Lothario and a bit of an imbecile, as a vocalist he’s practically unrivaled on the show, especially when it comes to duets with Rachel.
“Isn’t She Lovely” – If Artie is not awarded more great solos simply due to his beautiful performance on this song, then there is no good in this world. Unlike many other Glee performances, this was a very raw-sounding musical venture and it was absolutely perfect.
“Friday” – Glee really deserves some kudos for having relevant song choices and timeliness. This song may not be popular, but it’s the antithesis of popular without being unpopular, which is what makes it a really fun addition to the show.
“Jar of Hearts” – A lot like Rachel’s “Take a Bow” in season one, this song had a lot of power and emotion, which is what Lea Michele does best.
“I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You” – I will admit I did not understand exactly where the decision to have this song on the show came from, but Darren Criss performing it made it all right by me.
“Dancing Queen” – One complaint and one only is that ABBA should have been used on this show ages ago. They have so many great pop songs that are already known to have transferred well into a musical theater style, which would definitely work well on Glee. I have nothing but hope to hear more ABBA in the future.