Last night’s episode of Glee, “New New York,” acted essentially as a new pilot for the series, as the first episode of that New York spinoff that never came to be. Blaine, Sam, Artie, and even Mercedes arrive in the Big Apple by episode’s end, new character dynamics (Blaine, Sam and Mercedes are all living together!) are established, and new storylines are put into motion.
However, the question at the end of the day, though, is quite simple: Is this new version of Glee, a version that leaves the choir room and all of McKinley behind to solely focus on New York, good? After one episode, I’d say “kind of.” While I’m excited for the new possibilities that a New York-anchored Glee has to offer, “New New York” shows that a lot of work needs to done to organically integrate characters like Sam, Blaine, and even Mercedes into a setting that Rachel, Kurt, and Santana have made into their own over the past season and a half.
And I’ll be honest, the best way to make viewers excited to have Sam and Blaine in New York isn’t by giving Sam a modeling job in one episode, after he finally decides to get off the couch after months, or making Blaine into a semi-psycho, jealous ex-boyfriend who barges into Elliott’s apartment. The reason why Rachel’s storyline (Kurt’s was less successful with his instant invitation and acceptance at Vogue) has worked so well in New York, especially this season, is because we have seen her determination and drive to get what she wants. Rachel struggles with not thinking she’s good enough or from challenges from outside competition, but she never is just handed things. She still remains the same underdog that she was in Glee’s first season.
Blaine, Sam, and even Mercedes (recently, anyway) have had their big moments or storylines summarized for viewers, making it appear as if they are simply given everything they want without much effort. Take Blaine’s acceptance into NYADA from last week, when we were never shown his audition, or Sam’s modeling position from last night, which he gets after an impromptu musical number and a haircut. Even Mercedes’ reasoning for being in New York (she told her producers that her record needed an East Coast edge) is so superficial and lacks basic reasoning or depth, which only causes a disconnection between the audience and the characters rather than reinforcing why we care about them.
Rachel, Kurt, and Santana are such important, beloved characters in Glee for not only their personalities or their one-liners, but because we, as viewers, feel emotionally connected to their journeys. We empathize with them as they succeed and fail in both their personal and professional lives because they go through actual character arcs instead of rushed, summarized plot lines. The emotion that we feel comes through the specific scenes and moments that we share with them, the experience of how they achieved, gained, or lost something rather than just the end result.
Therefore, if the Glee writers want the New York-based Glee to be successful, they need to take the care, thought, and interest that they have for Rachel, Kurt, and Santana and apply it to Blaine, Sam, Mercedes, and Artie. Simply transporting these supporting players to the Big Apple (thus giving the series a more clear and focused direction) doesn’t make them into true leads for the show. No, what Glee has to do if it hopes to succeed with its New York-focused storylines for the remainder of the season is regain its understanding and dedication to character and mold these inferior characters into people that we want to go along with for the entire journey, instead of simply arriving with them at a predetermined destination.
- I really like the idea of an Artie/Rachel friendship and hope Glee does not forget about and abandon this relationship during its next episode.
- Really happy that Kurt and Blaine decided that Blaine should move out. I’m okay with the two of them being engaged (just like I was okay with Rachel and Finn’s engagement back in season three), but if Glee tried to make them a married couple even before the wedding, thus making Kurt and Blaine even more dependent on each other and not involved in stories outside of their relationship, it would only hurt both characters.
- Rachel hailing a cab at the end of the episode may have been my favorite thing from last night’s Glee. Part of me really hopes that’s how Lea Michele actually hails cabs when she’s in New York.
- Loved the episode’s opening rendition of “Downtown,” Kurt and Elliott’s “Rockstar,” and the choreography of Rachel and Artie’s “Don’t Sleep in the Subway.”
- Sam and Mercedes living together—Oh yeah, Glee writers, I’m suuuureeeee you’re not going to have them hook up again.
- Off topic side note, but this is actually my 150th article for TVOvermind, and I just wanted to thank everyone who takes the time to read these Glee reviews or anything else that I write. I love TV, and I love writing about it. But mostly, I love sharing this passion with people and that’s all of you guys.
What did everyone else think of last night’s remodeled, New York-based Glee?
[Photo via Mike Yarish/FOX]