What the hell happened?
We finished Season 5 on Sunday night. It was a good ending. Things made sense. Rachel was spiraling on the ambition-coaster. Mercedes was putting faith and career first. Blaine’s career was about to take off, but he was willing to risk it all because he believed in Kurt, and they both realized the importance of hard work and communication to the success of their relationship. Sam realized that modeling wouldn’t give him purpose long-term, and returned to Lima to look for a life he could find satisfying. Artie’s life was back in balance: school and friends kept him fulfilled, and romance would come if he continued to be his best self.
I read a bunch of articles written during the summer of 2014: they all said there would be a 24-episode Season 6 in which there would be a change of location, a disaster of some kind, and a time-hop to see the fall-out from the disaster. Fine. Obviously, Rachel’s show would fail and she’d be left with nothing, having burned bridges at school and on Broadway. She’d have to learn that responsibility and hard work (and luck) is the way to build a career, not ruthless ambition. Maybe beg her way back into NYADA or sing every song from A Chorus Line or something. Blaine would have to deal with the fact that Kurt just isn’t ready to get married yet, or maybe that’s what the time-hop was about: they graduate and want different things, and have to decide if they’ll get married and put each other first, or go their separate ways, and then we get the big payoff when they realize they can’t live apart and find a way to compromise filled with Kurt’s reasoned relationship analogies (“What do you think it’s like to fly for the first time?”) and Blaine’s pitch-perfect romantic comedy speeches that make everyone weak in the knees. Followed by amazing make-up sex and ALL THE DUETS.
But I knew that wasn’t what happened, because I had read two things: Blaine’s wiki page (ex-boyfriend David Karofsky?) and The Warblers’ wiki page (Dalton burns to the ground and all the Warblers become part of New Directions?)
So I spent the whole day being pissed off, because how the hell do you get from singing a duet with Shirley MacLaine and then risking your whole career for your one true love to living with David Karofsky in Lima?!?! Honestly, even in real life, this is not the kind of thing that happens to people like Blaine. He is, above all, a steady guy. The worst disruption in his life was that he couldn’t handle playing Danny in Grease right after his breakup with Kurt. He still managed to get excellent grades, run several clubs and the Student Council, and keep the Glee Club going, sometimes without faculty support. After the gun scare, he stayed up all night with his parents, but he relied on his parents for support and returned to school the next day anyway to be sure he was there for his friends and, presumably, since he wound up Valedictorian, to keep up with his classes. I mean, maybe if Kurt had died, he would’ve dropped out of school for a while and gone home to be with his parents and Burt and Carole. I could’ve bought, under those circumstances, that he might have taken the job running The Warblers for a year (by the way, since when do The Warblers have a coach?) to bring himself some comfort and return to his roots, and also be in the place where he and Kurt fell in love AND the place where they got engaged. (Also, seriously: David MUST have heard about that proposal and would you want YOUR boyfriend working in that building? What are the circumstances under which you’re thinking, “Oh, sure. He’s totally over Kurt. Let’s move in together!”) But Kurt isn’t dead. He’s alive and wants Blaine back. And Blaine’s “never going to forgive” him because he suggested they should break up and stay friends instead of getting resentful. Because that’s the kind of statement you can never get past with your best friend/one true love/person you’ve loved over and over again in every lifetime for all eternity.
I’m not saying I’m not enjoying the season. (Pro-tip: This season can only be enjoyed binge-fashion. You just have to let go and take the good points as they come, without question.) I mean, The Hurt Locker? Harry Hamlin? The elevator (with a bathroom, to answer the perennial question about what they did when they had to go to the bathroom)? Vocal Adrenaline doing Cirque du Soleil? But when did it change from a 24-episode season of wrestling with the realities of adulthood to a Fox-fueled 13-episode bout of ridiculousness that was evidently written by The Internet? How did those conversations go?
Here’s what I imagine. The writers were pitching and pitching and pitching, and Fox kept saying no, because the ratings went down during the soap-opera end of Season 5, and the writers really were lost about how to end the show after Cory Monteith died. So finally the writers went away and wrote The Hurt Locker out of spite. They just threw everything Fox would like into one episode out of spite, figuring that would make the point they wanted to make: Glee has always been a musical, and a little bit fanciful as a result, but it’s always been real at heart. Musicals are like that: the device itself is larger-than-life, but it lets us get to the heart of things much faster than conventional writing so that we can bring more reality to the screen.
And Fox loved it. So they threw their hands in the air and wrote thirteen episodes, literally wrapping up every loose end they ever left loose in the most ridiculous fashion they could think of. They indulged every whim, spent every dollar they could get, and read every Glee-related blog they could find to glean every idea of what the fans wanted. (“You want to see Kurt and Blaine kiss more? Okay, we’re going to do an episode where they HAVE to kiss, on demand, for no good reason at all, like trained monkeys.”)
And like I said, once you accept that that’s what it is, it’s kind of delightful. But it’s also kind of sad that Fox felt they had to turn Glee into The Simpsons. Because as much as I always loved the snark and the big numbers and the gay duets, I kind of miss the pregnant Christian girl learning tolerance and the bully learning to make himself vulnerable and the Guidance Counselor learning to live with her mental illness. Because that show was actually good.