Is Glee a teeny-bopper vehicle meant to appeal to adolescents who have just outgrown their High School Musical phase? Is it meant to appeal to adults in a sarcastic send up of the teenage genre? Is it a mash up of the two? Truth is, sometimes I am not sure even Glee knows what it is trying to accomplish. Glee is very funny and, at times, deals well with the dramatic. But it’s rarely spot on with combining the two. In this sense, it is appropriate that “Ballad” was all about mixed messages. Two major themes stood out in Glee tonight. One was an example of what Glee does well. The other, well not so much. Let’s rock through some quotes.

The Good:

“I don’t like the way she’s looking at me. I shouldn’t have sung this song with her. Crap. I know that look.” - Will Schuester

Will knows a teeny-bopper crush when he sees one and Rachel exhibits all the signs. Honestly, I’m surprised it took Glee this long for Will to deal with some sexual tension from a student. The show deals so much with sex and longing that it was really only a matter of time. This is the perfect kind of storyline for Glee because it deals with the ridiculous while not sucking us in to any kind of melodrama. Could a student have a crush on a teacher? Of course. Would they come to the teacher’s house, serve him a beer, or clean his bathroom? Nope. But it’s funny, done with a certain Glee-like charm, and we move on.

Even when the mood needs to get serious with Will and Rachel at the end, it doesn’t seem like a stretch. Now part of the equation here is the acting. I tend to think Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison are two of the better actors in the show. They can carry scenes on their own and are generally believable even in their most ridiculous form.

Rachel is able to overcome her crush on Will with a little advice from former crusher Suzy Pepper and a little dose of reality from Mr. Schuester.

The Bad:

“Girl’s, they’re your problem.” –Kurt “I have to go, they’ll think I’m pooping.” – Finn

The strain of Quinn’s pregnancy finally pushes Finn over the edge. He wants to be a good father but already feels like a failure. This prompts him to first tell his mom and then, with a little encouragement from Kurt, Quinn’s parents. It’s this second admission I found difficult to wrap my head around. It just seemed awkward and forced and terribly acted on the part of well, everybody. Even when we suspend disbelief, which I truly think Glee does NOT want us to do with these scenes, this reaction by Quinn’s parents doesn’t fall anywhere close to the range of normal.

Again, this could be an acting issue as Cory Montieth and Dianna Agron are both stiff in their roles and asking Quinn for real emotion in this scene was like pulling teeth. The whole thing missed the mark by a healthy margin and got even odder when they kick her out of the house forcing Quinn to bunk with Finn and mom.

The Verdict:

“There’s some boy out there that’s going to like you for everything you are. Including those parts of you that even you don’t like. Those are going to be the parts he likes the most.” - Will

In the end, this is what I took away from Glee. A show with a positive message wrapped up in a ludicrous premise. It’s really what the show does best. Suzy Pepper probably said it best when she described her and Rachel as “mildly attractive and somewhat grating.” When Glee doesn’t lay it on too thick we get to watch truly unique television. Here’s hoping for more of what really works.

Highlights and thoughts:

- After a nice little break from Terri, she returned with a vengeance. It only took her one scene to make me pine for the last couple of weeks and her absence. She is unredeemable on any level.

- For a show about singing, this was the first week where the characters actually encouraged each other to go and sing as a way to express emotion. I hadn’t thought about this until they came out and said it to one another. It kind of felt like they were mentioning and accepting the elephant in the room.

- Great karate chop moves from Finn in the bathroom. Totally unintimidating.

- Poor Kurt put in a decent effort to convert Finn to his team. It wasn’t to be, but you can’t blame the kid for trying.

- No Sue Sylvester this week, and I enjoyed the time off. Don’t get me wrong, for me Jane Lynch is the highlight of the whole show. That being said, it was nice to see an episode that carried without her looming presence.

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