Glee: Season 1, Episode 16
There are some really solid scenes in "Home," that actually convey real emotions from the characters, and which make sense both within this episode and within the broad types these characters have been drawn within this season. Unfortunately, the myriad stories they try to fit into this episode don't coalesce at all and actually detract from the time, and the pathos, that any of these stories could have created if they had been given a larger share of the episode. I like the idea of Kurt and Finn's parents getting together. I like the idea of Will and April bumping into each other again now that Will is single. And as for Mercedes' after school special on body image and how we should all just be ourselves? More on that in a minute.

The story that worked best for me was the Kurt-Finn storyline, which worked on several levels and made logical sense, something I've stopped expecting from this show, but still enjoy from time to time. It made sense that Kurt would want to set his Dad up with Finn's Mom to get closer to Finn, and I also like how the story pulled a 180 whe n Kurt suddenyl realized that introducing a much more traditionally masculine kid into his father's life could threaten their relationship. The scene in which Kurt and his Dad fight over the new relationship was heartbreaking and actually felt real. In fact, I can say with little doubt that the scene ranked among the best Glee has ever done outside a musical sequence, and looked like a scene from the show I wish this had been from day one. Both sides of the argument made good, realistic points, and Kurt actually mentioned that, though he is gay, he is still a guy. I also really enjoyed the scene between Kurt's Dad and Finn when they discussed Finn's father and sat down to watch a game together. Sure, Kurt's creepy standing outside the window was weird, but damn it if Chris Colfer (who is consistently much better than the material he is handed) didn't sell the hell out of that moment.

This storyline also used music the way I've dreamed the show would--rather than tacking on a heavy handed and random "Theme" for the kids to sing a song about each week, this storyline allowed Kurt to sing a song that deepened his storyline, showcased his stellar voice, and didn't beat you to death with the subtext it was trying to get across. Sure, Kurt was introducing this week's heavy handed theme when he sang the song, but I had almost forgotten that by the end because it worked as a character moment so well. Had this storyline been allowed to take center stage, the show might have turned out its best episode yet, but instead, this plotline had to share center stage with two storylines that try their hand at blending humor and pathos and fail pretty much totally.

The Mercedes storyline, in contrast to the Kurt-Finn one, showcased pretty much everything I dislike about the show currently. The idea of new cheerleader Mercedes developing an eating disorder in her attempts to fit in could have worked if it was teased out over a few episodes, or played out in the background as a singular struggle Mercedes faced. But Glee doesn't do multi-episode arcs, so Mercedes is told directly by Sue to lose weight or she gets kicked off the team, then she is told directly by Santana and Brittany how to develop an eating disorder, and then she drops it because she realizes she likes who she is. And in case we didn't get the meaning of her discovery, she sings the extremely heavy-handed "Beautiful" to bash it into our heads. This is the second week in a row where one of the major storylines was pretty much airlifted out of an after school special, and it raises another issue I have with the show as a whole: its supporting characters, who are for the most part as interesting as the main characters, if not moreso, come across in most episodes as a collection of minorities (black girl, gay guy, asian girl, handicapped guy) who exist to either be shoved into these after school special plots or to complain that they are being given nothing to do. I love a good meta joke as much as the next guy (ok, way, way, way more) but this seems less clever than true. The only time you ever see one of the minority characters in a main storyline, its a giant cliche that usually exploits them for what sets them apart (see "Wheels" for the most painful example of this).

As for the Will and April storyline, it transparently exists so that Kristen Chenowith can sing. I love the lady, and I'm glad they use her singing voice when they have her, but this isn't so much a subplot as a broadly strung together set of songs. The only one that even tries to work story-wise is the duet in Will's apartment, which was nicely implying the two would consummate their flirtation before demurely backing away from the idea because, I don't know, that would be interesting? Also, that sequence may have been the best, but it was also almost painfully over long, which hurt its effectiveness almost as much as the show's unwillingness to let Will bang April as he clearly would have. I like Glee's music numbers a lot, but if the show just exists as a vehicle for the songs, let's turn it into a variety show or a glorified, scripted American Idol. Barring that, the songs should add subtext or move the story along in some way. Most of them tonight just exist.

Grade: B-


-How did this show get a roller rink to use as a performance space and then not do a roller disco sequence? Seriously...how?

-The scene in which everyone turned into food was the biggest cliche imaginable, and it literally made me cringe.

-"How do you two not have a show on Bravo?"

-"I feel like the guy who set up Liza and David Guest."

-"I haven't had a drink in 45 minutes."

-"I'm going to mount the first ever all white production of The Wiz!"
Tags: Glee
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