Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Maybe Glee really does need saving.

Will you learn from your mistakes? 
When I last wrote about Glee, I wished my beloved characters well in their senior year and expressed my overall hopes for them this season - to continue developing the heartwarming bonds they’ve forged over the past two years and leave William McKinley High School having learned more about each other, and more importantly, themselves, than they ever could have imagined.

Three episodes into the third season, this vision is still attainable, yet at the same time, I feel many aspects of the show that have spoken to me in the past have fallen away. It is what it is, and perhaps the bittersweet truth is I've already moved on from these characters. Still, it seems that many fans and critics also wonder where a world that resonated so personally with them went wrong.

Over the summer the writing and marketing team behind Glee framed this season as "Back to Basics." This choice is an interesting one because it suggests acknowledgment that the show veered off track at some point between the Pilot and second season finale, "New York." If you are a devoted Glee fan as I am, you are likely very familiar with every major criticism the show has endured - and are probably tired of hearing of them - so I'm not going to repeat them too deeply. Honestly, I think that's half the problem. As I wrote in my previous post, I feel I've just moved on from Glee - even though I still watch weekly and share thoughts about the show frequently - and that's a loss in and of itself. Still, I can't do anything other than stick with the show through this season, and it may seem contradictory for me to be writing about the show when I made that conscious note that I wouldn't do so until the end of season three. Yet I feel the show is lost, and it's important to express that perception in order to keep this blog (somewhat) grounded and relatable.

Today, it was announced that Glee may be bringing back prior cast member Chord Overstreet and his character, Sam Evans. Sam was written as having moved out of the state after his father, who had been out of work found a job in another state. While Chord and the show's producers failed to negotiate over contract issues this past summer, the story of Sam moving actually worked quite well. Chord made the most of his season on Glee and seemed to connect with the rest of the cast, but Sam Evans brought up a lot of the storylines that were the very ones that didn't work - dating Quinn, dating Santana, emulating Justin Bieber. So while I felt badly about how Chord's departure from Glee unfolded over the summer, I wasn't too bummed to see his character leave McKinley.

My concern is that bringing Sam back to Glee will disrupt the remainder of the final season we have left with the original characters - in a sense, forcing me to say goodbye to them earlier than planned. His return to the show could work, but I think it's an ambitious undertaking on the writers' part when they already have enough material to fine-tune. I know I'm going to have to readjust my expectations as a viewer for the rest of the season.

As I was discussing with fellow Glee fans today, I’m sure we’ll still get our feel-good graduation songs and scenes in this year's finale. But will the journey there be primarily frustrating or enjoyable? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Watching the Wheels: Where I Still Am

Songs will always be interpreted differently by each listener. Sometimes, one particular interpretation will develop within culture that actually quite different than the one the artist intended. Yet art is intrinsically subjective, and the emotions we first feel when listening to a song, watching a film, reading a book, or looking at a painting will probably shape our perception of that work for years to come.

I say this because of my love of all arts, especially those that inspire me. Sometimes creative works serve primarily as a fun break from the responsibilities of our everyday lives, but the best ones do more - they draw upon those life experiences and resonate with us for that very reason - these works are the ones I strive to make, if only to help one person better express what he or she is feeling.

A song particularly striking a chord with me at the moment is John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels." My understanding of the one time Beatle and his career and life as a solo artist are fairly general, yet I can sense that he was probably a troubled man - one whose feelings we never had the opportunity to fully comprehend, unfortunately. Because if there's an image that resonates with me, it is certainly the idea of feeling stuck moving in circles doing the same things day after day. Even if Lennon wrote the song to express contentment in being where he had gotten, "Watching the Wheels" is equally moving to someone as myself looking for something more in my life.

This past summer I wrote how Yogi Berra once said to "know where you're going" in order to get there, and how knowing where we are at any given moment in our lives is essential to moving forward. Well, three months have passed since then, and I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round. I may very well be making progress in my life (or so I'm told), but that knowledge doesn't save me from crying myself to sleep sometimes.

What does help? Music, literature, film. So on days where I just have to let it go - I'll put on some music and do exactly that.