My take on Glee’s Grilled Cheesus

My take on Glee’s Grilled Cheesus

Right now, television is better than the movies.

I recently saw The Social Network, and I enjoyed it.  Intellectually.  I thought the acting, writing, and directing were all strong.

But I saw last night’s Grilled Cheesus episode of Glee.  I was moved.  Emotionally.   My Significant Other (SO) cried.   I woke up this morning, still thinking about it…and we rewatched a few minutes.

I love intellectual works of art.  I can read/see/hear something that’s all about the ideas, with clever writing, and nary an emotion in sight, and be completely satisfied…in awe, and quoting the lines.

I can be moved by odd things in entertainment…cartoons, old monster movies…

But to get me to be moved in a show about people?   That’s real art.

I’m always careful about spoilers, so I don’t want to say too much about the plot.

What I do want to say is that it all worked.  Kurt (Chris Colfer), who has the events happen to him that drive the episode, is the person I most want to hear every week.  There are several, but I find his voice and his emotional delivery amazing.  In this week’s episode, he’s given a very familiar song to sing with a very unfamiliar interpretation. Brilliant.

In contrast, I’m not a big fan of Rachel’s singing.  It’s not her ability…it’s her tendency to shout the songs.  For me, there’s a big difference between belting and shouting.  Belting is loud, but doesn’t go up in pitch, change the vowels, or get overly textured.  I’d say the difference is that when you belt a song, the words are even clearer than someone singing them in a typical manner.  When you shout them, they are harder to understand.

Last night, Lea Michele’s performance was beautiful.  It was simple and sublime.

While I do watch for Kurt, I would most listen to Mark Salling’s “Puck”.  I like swing music, and that’s the vibe I get from him.  He gets a nice rocking cover early in the episode.

Mercedes (Amber Riley) does tend to oversing songs for me, although my SO really likes her, and I can understand that.  I’m not sure that what she’s doing with the song has to do with the story of the song and not her abilities to sing it.  I had someone once describe what I was doing with a song as “vocal gymnastics”, and I think that applies here.  Would it have been better if Gene Kelly had done a series of backflips and handstands in Singing in the Rain?  It would have been impressive…but his controlled (and then raw enthusiastic) movements are more appropriate for the emotion of his character.  I find that Mercedes tends to vocally flip when she should strut…but she was particularly good in this episode.

You can’t write about Glee and not talk about Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch).  It’s not always the best thing when someone plays a bit against the type of the character…but I thought this really worked.  Sue enjoys being a jerk, and that’s fun.  But I also like to see what motivates that.  Not excuses it, but helps to explain why she chooses to act that way.  This episode gave us one of Sue’s most interesting expositions.

Great television shows have great episodes, and this was of them.  Is it up there with The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s Chuckle Bites the Dust or Star Trek’s The City on the Edge of Forever?  I’ll have to get a bit of distance before I say that. 

What did you think?  Overly maudlin?  Manipulative?  Did I slight Finn?  Sacrilegious? Inspirational?  Feel free to let me know.

Official Site (watch the episode for free)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

2 Responses to “My take on Glee’s Grilled Cheesus”

  1. pnhill Says:

    Hi there. Great review of Glee last night. I too enjoyed the episode although at the half way mark I was ready to condemn it to the ranks of unbalanced and misinformed television. It restored balance on the topic in the second half.

    I like the genre of Glee, I enjoyed some musical performances (especially Kurt’s rendition of that very popular song) and endured other, and in the end I thought that Glee had managed to once again leave its audience with songs to hum the next day and thoughts to chew over at the water cooler.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, phill!

      I understand that concern about balance…that was definitely a risk with this episode.

      I think Glee is getting its audience to think, discuss, and explore…and that’s a good thing.

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