Glee's Jumped the Shark: So Watch It

Last night, I decided to tune into the season premiere of Glee. Despite my love/hate relationship with the show, I'm always willing to give it another chance for, at this point, one good reason: it's Ryan Murphy. Ryan "let's have the evil southern girl torture the animal rights activist by eating nothing but meat in front of her" Murphy. Ryan "what if a serial assailant in a mask started carving up plastic surgery patients" Murphy. Ryan "why you gotta hate on gingers in a horror series" Murphy. When he's at his best, he's doing something so crazy that you can't stop thinking about it. I can proudly announce that Glee has gone full tilt Popular Season Two. It's insane now. That makes it worth watching.

In this first episode, Sue Sylvester becomes a supervillain against the performing arts. Every word that came out of her mouth put her at the level of at least The Scarecrow in Batman or the first Green Goblin in Spider-Man. She's a nuisance who can't possibly win but gets you going anyway. She instructs teenage girls to destroy all the pianos in the school and tells the greater Ohio area that no arts programs should be funded until every child is at the appropriate reading level; sports and non-performing arts clubs are not similarly punished. Every single time someone tries to take her down, she gets even stronger. It's a hoot. I wonder if they'll give her a mustache, monocle, and cape to play with by season's end?

Then there's the relationship between Kurt and Rachel. The longtime rivals because they had the same vocal range and wanted to be THE diva in the glee club is over. Now they're working together to both get into a small but selective musical theater school in New York City. Why the proud high school theater nerd wasn't best friends forever with the proud high school theater nerd from day one I'll never understand. This duet alone almost makes up for it. They sang Barbara Streisand's "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" and it's the best they've ever sounded together.

While Sue gets fenced into another gimmicky vein of villainy, the other adults on the series seem to actually get progressive character development. Will Schuester has learned to stand up for himself. Emma is actually shown to be competent as a guidance counselor, guiding Kurt and Rachel to the best schools for their interest in musical theater. Coache Beiste is the voice of reason among the faculty and her absurd non-sequitors made a lot more sense in context. We even find out that some teachers actually like Sue as a person, which is a far cry from Sue being a total isolationist until she goes on the attack. This could be a sign of maturation. However, sane faculty members only work to further heighten the insanity of the rest of the cast.

Take poor abused character Quinn. She started as the conservative Christian who accidentally gets pregnant and gives up the baby. So much for being a conservative Christian. She was also painted as the initial villain on the series, which never sat right with the writing or the performance. They gave her a more positive spin at the end of the first season that could have blossomed into a great character. Instead, they turned her into a nothing character, just there and occasionally going against the glee club. Now she's a sad sack punk kid trying to prove that she was always supposed to be like that. She's ditched all her friends and now hangs out with the self-proclaimed "The Sluts" gang. Cuckoo.

Perhaps the most absurd new element on the show is the expansion of the Kurt/Blaine relationship. I know it's Glee and nothing ever made sense. Here's the problem. No self-respecting parent would throw away a huge tuition payment on an acclaimed, award-winning, guarantee you any place you want in life private school so their son could follow his heart in a middling public school. I'm hoping this stunt with Blaine going to McKinley High is just that. I hope in three episodes he says he can't take the awful school anymore and goes back to Dalton, so he only occasionally meets up with Kurt for a theater dish session and maybe a kiss. It's sweeter and more realistic that way.

What we're dealing with, people, is the Ryan Murphy break from reality syndrome. He does this every time he writes a show. The storylines can only get crazier from here. It's worth it to sit back and laugh at--not with--the program.

Thoughts on the season premiere? This is not going to be a weekly recap, so get them out now.

Coming Soon: Diner (Broadway Fall 2012)

Recap: Death Valley: Season 1, ep. 4