Glee – at least, what I remember from when I regularly watched it — is about underdogs learning to harness the power within themselves and stun the people who had written them off. The show did a fantastic job of this in the first season, uniting jocks and cheerleaders and outcasts with their love of singing and mashing up classics with new hits. And while the show got fairly heavy-handed with some of the issues, especially all of the bullying that Kurt went through, it still taught some valuable lessons. I have to admit that it was inspiring to see these kids grow more confident and happy as the episodes went on. Even when New Directions didn’t win, they still valued the journey that brought them to Regionals or Nationals.
But we’re in our fourth season; many of the kids have gone off to college; and playing off the whole “we’re outcasts, let’s band together!” idea is starting to wear thin. Sure, every year you have a new crop of shy, insecure losers. But the framework is in place that they don’t need to constantly reaffirm how awesome and misunderstood they are. That’s why I take issue with Glee‘s upcoming superheroes episode.
According to the preview above, the Thanksgiving episode has the New Directions kids reimagining themselves as superheroes. Whether this is some “alternate universe” episode or they’re all just doing some major larping at McKinley High is beyond me. Either way, the glee club kids have crafted their own superhero identities in order to deal with all the haters. It’s like when they did the Lady Gaga episode—and now, like then, it smacks of opportunism.
Hey, I loved the Madonna tribute. But the Gaga one turned into this super-earnest (but also super-calculated) PSA about being true to your inner freak. It just came across as rather disingenuous. That’s how I can’t help feeling about the kids taking on alter egos like “Blonde Chameleon,” “Asian Persuasion,” and “Tarantula-Head.” What’s the point? So they’re standing up for themselves… Don’t they do that in their normal personas? Watching this preview, I couldn’t stop myself from envisioning Ryan Murphy pacing the writers’ room, announcing, “Superheroes are cool now!”
I’m all for mainstream TV poking fun at the current popularity of superheroes, like this week’s Saturday Night Live with Jeremy Renner. But here it just seems like Glee is trying to make lightning strike twice. What do you think of the preview?