Critics’ Roundtable: “Glee”

Is Glee doing the right thing keeping Klaine apart??

From day one, Glee has been one of those love it or hate it kinds of shows. The Ryan Murphy-created series is in season 4 now and big changes have come as it divides its time between Lima, Ohio’s McKinley High and the Big Apple, where grads Rachel (Lea Michele) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) are living life post-high school.

But has this split shift in focus made the show better or worse? Do we care whether Kurt and Blaine (Darren Criss) are together or apart? Are we missing the originals who have faded into the background… or just faded? Is the show going to live a long life, or should it close its songbook for good?

AfterElton asked those questions and more to some TV critics in this week’s Critics’ Roundtable. Helping out are Brian Gianelli (Senior TV Editor,, Marisa Roffman (Managing Editor,, Miranda Wicker (Staff Writer,, Heather Hogan (Senior Editor, and our own Jim Halterman.

While Heather Morris (r) is still featured, are we missing Naya Rivera?

Question: Is Glee more tolerable this year? Why do you agree or disagree?

Brian Gianelli: I think splitting the action between NY and Lima has helped get some of the zing back for the show. Plus, Sue has been in fewer episodes this season. Perhaps less is more there? I have never fallen off the Glee bandwagon, even through last year, but am more invested this season for sure.

Marisa Roffman: For the most part, yes, I feel like cohesively this season has been better than 3. There have been a couple of episodes I felt didn’t work (“Dynamic Duets” and “Britney 2.0″ to name a few), but as much as “The Break-Up” hurt, I also think it was the best episode the show has done in a very long time. The highs Glee has reached this year seem to be higher, and I find myself listening to the music again post-episode, which is a nice change.

Heather Hogan: I think it’s so telling that you asked if it was more “tolerable,” as opposed to, say, “likable.” It’s as if we’ve all accepted that Glee‘s long, slow descent into madness has reached a point from which it can’t return. We may never love it again like we loved season one, but can it at least reach a stasis where we don’t want to throw things at the TV while watching it? I actually do think Glee is more tolerable this year. The writers’ formula — because I’m not sure they’ve ever really understand what, exactly, makes the show work — has always been to throw as much stuff at the wall as possible and see what sticks. And this year, they’re throwing more than ever. So there’s a bigger buffet of un-enraging moments to choose from.

Are you favoring the NY stories over the Lima stories or vice versa? Why?

Miranda Wicker: In the first two episodes, I was all “I love New York!” But Lima is for Lovers, guys and ladies. Rachel and Kurt are important to the show, but putting too much of the focus on them was where Glee lost its way in the third season. If the show places more emphasis on them than on the ragtag group of McKinley Misfits, it will lose its way again. The new cast is revitalizing, and following Rachel and Kurt’s escapades in New York every week makes this the “Rachel and Kurt Show”. Glee outside of high school isn’t Glee.

Marisa Roffman: As much as I’m digging Marley, Blake and Jake, up until this week, I was enjoying the NY stories more. It felt like in NY, we were covering new territory, whereas at the high school, there were times where it’s felt like a retread of what we’ve already seen. But after that hot mess of “Let’s Have a Kiki” I may have to reconsider my stance. (And really, Rachel and Kurt wouldn’t go home for the holidays?)

Jim Halterman: As much as I thought the dual locales would be a disaster, it’s actually given the show a lot of room to breathe. Whether we spend a whole episode at one place or another or hop back and forth, it’s working for me. And, thankfully, the NY side of things does feel post-high school for Rachel and Kurt. So while they’re still misfits in a way, they (and the show, perhaps) are growing up.

Um….y’all look familiar but… (Rivera, Dianna Agron, Harry Shum Jr, Mark Salling, Amber Riley)

Of the originals that we’re not seeing in every episode (Lea Michele, Naya Rivera, Chris Colfer, Matthew Morrison) who are you missing and who are you fine never seeing again?

Brian Gianelli: Seeing snarky Santana back for Grease was pretty fantastic. Conversely, not really sure why Mike Chang and Mercedes ended up back for the play as well. Sadly, they have not been missed. It was nice to see Quinn back for the Thanksgiving episode and bonding with Kitty.

Heather Hogan: I think Matthew Morrison is a damn fine performer and all around awesome guy, but Glee hasn’t known what to do with Mr. Schuester in two seasons. Actually, they gave him a fake pregnant wife in like the third episode. I’m not sure they ever knew what to do with him. So, Mr. Schue’s absence is actually welcome to me. I miss Naya Rivera and Chris Colfer the most. They always sell whatever the writers throw at them, and as long as they’re peddling it, I’ll be buying it.

Jim Halterman: I thought there would be gaping holes when some episodes have focused on the newbies, but last week’s episode felt more like the changing of the guard since the new kids have completely held their own for the most part. Seeing Santana, Will, Mike Chang and Mercedes back felt more than a little forced. The show is proving it can go on without them.


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