Glee: My Final Plea for Less Sue
The premise behind the character of Sue Sylvester is this: She’s the cut-throat coach of the cheerleading squad, which, like most cheerleading squads in movies or television shows, has won nationals a bajillion times. She is ruthless and evil because she is the best, because, like the great Zeus or the manipulative Hera, she will smite any threat to her dominance. Her sabotage for the Glee Club comes not from personal vendetta or hatred for any particular person or group, but from a Machiavellian desire to maintain her dictatorial position (and her excessive funding). The most vulnerable she gets is when she admits that her wish to be Madonna was thwarted by a perm gone awry, or when her sister dies (and even then she shows no weakness, just stoic anger). This is the Sue Sylvester that was funny, the one who could justifiably say things like, “You think this is tough? Try being waterboarded!”
But somewhere along the way, Sue lost traction. She’s lost her place on top, and now the (admittedly well-worded) insults and sabotage of New Directions just smack of desperation. Sue Sylvester is no longer totally sure she’s a god amongst men; instead, she’s a petty, vindictive crazy person irrationally attempting to bring the Glee Club down. And it’s not particularly funny. When Sue was the top-dog, raining down insults upon the misfit Glee Club and demanding ever-increasing recklessness from her minions the Cheerios, it was hilarious; she was the crazy dictator, sharp-tongued and maniacal, undermining the confidence of self-conscious teens just for the fun of it. Now, though, the tone has changed. Sue is no longer single-mindedly out to promote herself and Cheerios; instead, her only reason for living is to destroy the Glee Club. But that desire to bring them down is now the motivation unto itself, which is just annoyingly pathetic. The things she says aren’t funny anymore—they’re sad and uncomfortable—and yet the writers spent an entire episode—the season premiere, no less!—shoving joke after painfully pathetic joke down our throats. To make things worse, because the Glee Club is doing so well (they went to Nationals, they’re a happy family, they’re singing fun songs!), not only does Sue just seem like an annoyingly misguided bully, picking on people cooler than her to make herself feel better, but it also taints the happiness and fun of the Glee Club. When Schue launches a counter-offensive against her, it’s no longer the heroic overthrow of an evil dictator; rather, he’s just taking this woman whose life apparently has no other purpose than to demean and destroy something that doesn’t actually affect her and ripping her apart, when, really, he should just be finding her a freaking hobby or something. This isn’t Mad Men or Breaking Bad or something, guys; it’s a show about singing high schoolers. So when the bad guy isn’t easily hate-able and the heroes seem vindictive and childish, it makes for bad television.
Watching singing teens struggle with high school is fun. Watching adults act like children isn’t. And I swear to God if Blaine hadn’t been the essence of cuteness in that bow tie and those high-water red pants singing “It’s Not Unusual”, I probably would have given up right then and there.
But the second episode this season demonstrated that when the show sticks to the actual teenagers, quality television is created. Quinn’s sudden change into a reincarnation of Angela Chase from My So-Called Life has been super controversial (people seem to either love it or hate it), but at least it’s interesting. I love that the return of her unwanted child has turned Quinn into Gollum, vacillating between a sweet-talking people pleaser eager to get her life back on track and a hoarse-voiced shell of her former self, hell-bent on getting back her precious—I mean baby.
I’m also digging that Kurt and Blaine are finally hitting some relationship snags (when Kurt told Blaine to transfer to McKinley, because he wanted “to be with [him] every waking moment” I almost turned the television off). When the directors of West Side Story asked Blaine to read for Tony, even though he promised Kurt he’d only audition for Bernardo, I just knew things were going to get real. Kurt’s audition piece was wonderful, full of acrobatics and an incredible singing voice, the fact is that, like Artie said, he’s “too…delicate.” (Also, he sings alto, not tenor, which apparently escaped everyone’s notice.) It’s obvious that the amazingly-charming, less-falsetto-reliant Blaine is going to get the part, and it’s going to cause some serious DRAMZ. You could just see the total devastation in poor Kurt’s porcelain face.
And see, it’s reasons like that why I’m actually excited to tune in next week. I want to know what happens with Kurt and Britney’s competing campaigns for class president, I want to see the drama between Blaine and Kurt, I want to see if Rachel can get into that “exclusive performing arts school in New York”, and I want to see more baby drama with Gollum—I mean Quinn. And if the show sticks with the kids and leaves the adults alone, I think this season could be pretty promising. Leave Sue in for the bit parts, make Schue grow up, and let the kids act out their own drama.