I watched the first few minutes of the initial episode of The Glee Project and then realized I didn’t really care that much. Fast forward a handful of weeks later, throw in the accessibility of multiple episodes OnDemand and a girlfriend who didn’t want to watch some of the scripted series I’d hoped she would like to catch up on, and here we are. Over the past few days, I’ve watched the last four or five Glee Project episodes, including last night’s pre-finale effort, and I couldn’t help but discuss them, if only briefly. Keep in mind that I haven’t seen every episode and I’m only here to talk about what’s happened from the top seven or eight onward.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I kind of sympathize with Ryan Murphy right now. Hold on, let me go run into traffic and then vomit.
OK, I’m alive. Barely. ANYWAY, I sympathize with Ryan Murphy right now because it feels like he’s screwed when it comes to The Glee Project winner. From slightly uneducated perspective, the competition had two people who really rooted for: Cameron and Hannah. The two of them said goodbye in different ways in consecutive weeks and now Murphy, Robert Ulrich and Zach Woodlee* are stuck with four “contenders” (LORD, do I hate how the series uses that) that are severely flawed in ways that make them unappealing candidates for a seven-episode arc on the series.
*I just have to say that Zach Woodlee is my favorite reality competition series judge of all-time. He looks like he’s on the verge of tears ALL THE TIME. He seems so proud of these kids, it’s really awesome. I want a teary-eyed Zach GIF that I can put at the end of all my posts so I know I did a good job.
Last night’s episode explored and accentuated those flaws a lot, so we might as well run through them really quickly:
- Lindsay is clearly the most talented vocal performer and arguably so when in comes to acting as well. But she’s entirely fake. I hate that word so much, especially in regards to reality television, but with her (and another performer I’ll get to) it’s so true. She was doing just fine as the powerhouse Lea Michele/Rachel Berry wannabe and then suddenly the vocal coach Nikki (who is like the exact opposite of Zach [i.e. kind of a B]) takes her to task for not being real and she brings out this whole new “real” persona with a Rachel Berry-like backstory and a wardrobe that includes hats. She also probably borrowed some of Alex’s “believability” in the recording studio. Although I think Nikki is randomly hard on all the girls (and waaaay too sweet on the men, I might add), Lindsay’s getting too ugly of an edit to be the winner. Unless Murphy is setting her up to be a fake, quasi-evil girl on Glee. Then he’s kind of a super-genius.
- When I watched my first full episode, Samuel was my pick to win. He’s got a solid voice and a good look that Glee fans would devour. Based on some of the tweets I’ve received about him, they’re already reacting to him that way. But as soon as Ryan Murphy brought up religion, Samuel has turned that into “his thing” even though he had never previously mentioned religion at all. Now everything that comes out of his mouth in front of the judges and Murphy is about god and religion and it’s just so manipulative. And again, Ryan is right. He’s too rock star-y and frankly a bit too overconfident for my tastes. I’m not really sure if I buy him as religious and also as the rock god he tries to be. Doesn’t work. Also, he can’t really act.
- Alex drives me nuts. He’s certainly an interesting performer and has some tremendous vocal range, but he almost feels too Glee if that makes any sense. Like if you presented me the final four on paper with just a few bullet points and I saw Alex’s information, I would say “of course.” But Alex hasn’t really improved that much in the episode’s I’ve seen and he’s really one-note. If Murphy can’t find room for Mercedes, how is he going to find room for her male counterpart?
- Finally, Damian. As a personality, I love Damian. He’s charming, fun and inherently warm and good. He’s just a swell guy. I agree with Murphy (OH MY GOD) that Damian is easy to root for, but unfortunately the skill doesn’t really match his likability. I’m sure that the music producers can help his voice, but neither his acting or his general look feel particularly Glee-like if you know what I mean. I want to be Damian’s friend, but I don’t won’t to see him on the series.
So while it seemed like a great move to keep everyone around for the final four, it feels to me like Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan weren’t really sure who to eliminate because they don’t really know who they want to win. It feels like Lindsay would have been the one to go, but an all-male final three was probably not an appealing situation either. Hence, my assessment that the competition is sort of a bust at this point. If I were to pick a winner now, I think it’s probably Samuel, but only because he’s figured out how to manipulate the judges in a way that gives them exactly what they want to hear. Alex probably finishes in second, with Damian and Lindsay somewhere behind.
But I have two more questions. First, how confident are we that Ryan Murphy and his writing team (even with the new writers) can create a conservative, religious character? Is there anyone out there who really trusts the writers’ ability to craft subtle, but complex characters? It does make sense that the series bring someone like that in, but there’s no way it’s going to work out at all — especially with Samuel playing them.
Secondly, what’s to stop Ryan from bringing those who don’t win onto the Glee machine anyway? Ryan clearly loves Cameron (and rightfully so) and has a soft spot in his heart for Hannah and maybe even Damian as well, so why not just bring them on the series and develop the characters he wanted to develop in the first place? I understand upholding the “legitimacy” of the competition and everything, but if Cameron is right for a part and he’s willing to do it, he should be on Glee. I might be trying to justify my enjoyment of his performances and personality, but it’s a real concern nevertheless.