The Glee Project: Romantic-ality

They’re down to 6 contestants. Only two guys remain: Michael and Blake so I’m guessing they’re safe. The theme is romantical-ity. Lily admits to having a crush on Blake and figures the others do too. So we’ve got a little romance to kick off the theme.

The homework song is “More than Words” by Extreme and the songwriter will accompany them on guitar when they perform. I’ve never particularly liked this song. It’s just way too saccharine.

The contestants decide to pair up and the pairs come down to Shanna and Michael, Ali and Blake and Lily and Aylin, who are fierce rivals. Going for some shock value, Lily and Aylin decide to kiss when they sing. Aylin seems to really not care how her parents will react to having the world see their daughter flout their religious beliefs.

Darren Criss returns as mentor. He saw Michael and Shanna as stiff and Lily and Aylin did not ge the reaction I think they expected as no one mentioned their kiss. Instead they were seen as too serious.

Blake won because he was earnest, not a quality that fits the theme. When he won, he was happy and mocked the girls who mention their previous winnings. He seemed like a poor loser when he won. Since he won, Blake could choose

Shanna struggled in the studio. Michael was good in the studio, which surprised Nikki. Lily and Ali were great when recording as well while homework winner golden boy Blake stumbled. He can’t sing harmony.

Lily toned down her acting while Michael brought his up and that really impressed the judges. Shanna and Aylin had trouble looking natural and like they weren’t just dancing.

The video takes place on a Saturday during detention. Implausibly enough it’s on a Saturday and the principal leaves all the kids in the classroom and they easily run out of the room in pairs and get “romantic” in various parts of the school. The singing was good, but the What’s weird is that although the theme is “romanticality” none of the judges make any of the performers sex it up as they forced Nellie to do. Why the difference?

[Digression: Adam Levine from Maroon 5 appeared in an ad for ADHD meds. Doesn’t singing and songwriting pay any more? Is this what happens when kids download pirated music? So sad.]

Shanna, Aylin and Blake had to perform for Ryan. Shanna harped on the fact that she felt Micahel belonged in the bottom three and that she thought they were too terrific to merit that. Blake got “Losing My Religion,” Aylin got “The First TIme Ever I Saw Your Face and Shanna had “

Aylin forgot the lyrics. Ryan asked Aylin about how she thought Muslim girls would react to seeing someone like her on TV. It seems like he’s trying to do market research as well as cast the show. His naivete is showing. I suppose he’s never heard of a fatwa. I don’t think it’s particularly bold or wise to present the Muslim teen rebelling against religion. It would be interesting to show one living out that religion, believing in it whole heartedly. Weith Aylin, we’ve only gotten superficial glimpses at her faith and culture. That’s true of all the contestants and a failing of the show.

Astutely, Robert asked her about the backlash. However, the elimination round is not the time he’d get a real answer. Usually, people say what they think will keep them in the game. I wouldn’t expect Aylin to say that “While, my family’s pretty peace loving, there are some folks I know who’d hunt you all down if you disrespect Islam the way you kinda do with Christianity.”

Ryan notes before Blake comes out that Blake lacks a bottom, depth. How true. He’s petrified to sing. He does fine with the song, but he shows no vulnerabilities.

Shanna comes out dolled up with curly hair and a short red dress, after Ryan’s told that she’s too “bubble gum-ish.” Ryan did think there isn’t much to Shanna as far as creating a character. He asked her if she was complaining about her position in the bottom three. When he asked her what kind of character she could be, Shanna suggested she’d play the athletic girl who was in a bunch of activities. Boring. Later she admitted that she thought she didn’t believe she should be in the bottom three. Kudos for speaking up to Ryan. He then said he could write for the feisty Southern girl. (That could be a character, the Southern Red State Girl, though it would be better if she played up her family background.)

The judges thought Aylin didn’t offer much beyond good singing and that Blake coasted on his charm. Nikki thought all of them cracked. Before they presented the result, a trailer for next week showed Aylin in a hiljab, so obviously she stays. Nikki also brought up the issue that they only have two remaining men so it seemed unlikely that Blake would be eliminated, despite his

Note: Turks don’t usually wear hiljabs (the head coverings worn my Muslim women, called jilbabs in Indonesia.)

As they walk up the the list, Aylin and Blake express pessimism and Shanna seems rather confident, which was kind of a “tell.” Shanna was sent home. She’s basically too mainstream and didn’t know how to develop a character for the writers. She hadn’t been in the bottom and didn’t know what to expect. It’s a point in the competition that those who’ve been up for elimination have an edge as they know how to talk with the judges. If she had thought to mention how her mother was a druggie and that was hard, she might still be on.
Now my current favorite to win is Ali. I hope I haven’t jinxed her.

The Glee Project: Fearlessness

The theme was fearlessness and Jane Lynch was the mentor this week and she was a breath of fresh air. Not that the other cast members weren’t but Jane has an unique energy level. The contestants had to sing a rap song for their homework. They chose to do choreography involving everyone shaking their rear ends at Robert and Jane. Why didn’t anyone think that might be lame? Now that Mario’s gone there’s no one in the group that objects to the ideas.

Aylin and Charlie pledge to be less affectionate. Yeah, right. I do wonder what Aylin’s family thinks now that they can see this series. Turkey is progressive as far as Muslim countries go so they may not really be as strict as she says. A strict family would have watched Glee and then forbid their child to try out.

Lily won the personal mentoring session with Jane, who felt Lily was a young version of herself.

The video was much better than last week. This mash up of Blondie’s “One Way or Another” and Pat Benatar‘s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”  was a slushie fight in a swimming pool.

Nellie, Aylin and Charlie were in the bottom three. I wouldn’t have had Nellie at the bottom this week. Yes, a person has to come out of her shell, but the mentors don’t have to go out of their way to insist that she be more blatantly sexual. I think she would have done fine. I’m not as impressed with Blake or Michael. Aylin was giggling and Charlie didn’t control his autism spectrum stuff so he had to perform.

Charlie went home despite a robust performance of Tom Jone’s “It’s Not Unusual.” I wouldn’t be surprised if next season we saw a character with autism of Ausberger’s, but the actor won’t actually have the condition so he’ll be easier to direct.

I’m glad Nellie and Aylin have another week.

Trivia: Aylin graduated from my sister and brother’s high school Loyola Academy, a Catholic school in Wilmette. It’s a rather progressive school so I’m surprised such strict parents would send her there.

the glee project: adaptability

Mario starts the show by declaring that he’ll rock the challenge as he has to adapt constantly since he’s blind. True. Yet such declarations tempt the gods.

Kevin McHale, a.k.a. Artie, was the mentor and thought Aylin performed Alanis Morissette’s “You Outta Know” best.

As the theme was adaptability, every step of the way — in the studio and with Zach, the choreographer, the contestants were kept in the dark about what they’d have to do. We’re told that this is common practice on the actual show. Both Shanna and Michael did well. Lily was solid, Aylin was hot, Abraham cut his breath off, A felt anxious. They didn’t bother to show Nellie or Mario in the studio. Since Nellie shown in the previous episode and has an interesting depth and good voice, I felt shortchanged.

Kevin coached Aylin to build on confidence, hardly Socrates-level advice. I do wonder how long these sessions last and what got edited out. I’d hope he could offer more and better coaching.

The video centered around a group of highly stereotyped rich and poor kids. The rich kids sat around in lavish furs and such while the poor kids sang happily in white t-shirts. Charlie adopted a persona, sort of a young Thurston Howell, III. The mentors thought this was bizarre. It was a little odd, but it did fit with the theme and they chose Charlie because of his autism-spectrum condition. What do they expect? They don’t get that if you have such a condition, you can’t instantly change. This was probably the poorest video The Glee Project has made to date. It was just too stereotypical and superficial. Nothing the contestants could have done this week could have saved it.

As a further twist there were six in the bottom who had to perform for Ryan. Aylin, Michael, Shanna, and Lily were safe.  Nellie and Blake sang Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl/Boy Like You.” I think Nellie outshone Blake who seems too bland for me.

Ali and Abraham had to sing Katy Perry’sLast Friday Night” and here Ali was the stronger performer. Ryan compared Ali to Dolly Parton, which was a dicey comment. All these contestants have to respond positively to anything the mentors say or they’re out on the street. Remembering that makes me all the more happy that Cameron just left the program of his own accord last you.

Finally Mario and Charlie sang Elton John‘s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”  In the end Mario was not called back. It seemed appropriate as he was just so arrogant, so above the others. That’s an inadvertent plus of The Glee Project. In a scripted show the person who’s blind is saintly. Here that just wasn’t the case. We got a real person and we won’t miss him in the weeks ahead as he was so self-absorbed.

the glee project: sexuality

This episode’s theme was sexuality and Naya Rivera (Santana) was the mentor. The gang sang a song I can’t remember and there was a lot of sultry looks and pumping and grinding. How I long for a bit more sophistication in our culture. I don’t blame the contestants they’re just seeing what’s out there and emulating. (Porpoise of Life’s blogger couldn’t remember the song either. Not a good sign. I did just watch the beginning again and the song was “I Wanna Sex You Up.” Ho hum.)

If you’ve seen the show you can pretty much predict how a lot of the contestants responded. Aylin was exuberant, but worried about what her parents thought. Yet she doesn’t really seem to care so it’s something of a non-issue. Tyler reminded us that his transgender transition makes this tough for him, yet when Robert announced the theme he was jubilant. I guess he just got caught up in the mob response.

Charlie won the homework competition and was on cloud 9 knowing that Naya considered him the success in the sexuality challenge. Yet this turned out to be a bit of a curse as it made him cocky the rest of the week.

The Star of the Week

Nellie interested me the most this week. She was honest and admitted this was a stretch since she hadn’t even seen a guy naked. I was glad someone had a different perspective. It’s interesting to watch someone who seems so real live through this fish bowl experiment.

The video for the week’s setting was a high school sex ed class in which a dowdy, non-sexy teacher assigns the class to write an essay on “What Sexuality Means to Me.” The Glee Project did get the banality and triviality that can pervade US classrooms right, but really this is an assignment that would result in parental outcry. Why should a teacher read and evaluate students’ sexuality? Is that their job? No teacher who’s right in the head would assign something that begs parents to call and complain.

Sexiness is in the eye of the beholder

In the studio, Michael stumbled over the lyrics as he sang with Mario. He just couldn’t get them right and in the end Nikki had to ask him to leave. Still over the moon from his homework win, Charlie was flirting with Aylin while recording which just made him look immature. He needs to wake up if he wants to stay.

Then during the video shoot, Charlie let his ADD and attitude get the best of him as he tried to direct Erik the Director, who was remarkably patient.

Tyler just got lost in the crowd. Lily vamped up her performance and shy Nellie got out of her shell and excelled in the shoot.

Tyler, Michael and Charlie had to do last chance performances. Charlie did a fun rendition of “I Get a Kick Out of You,” which got Ryan and Co. to overlook Charlie’s lack of professionalism that week.

Michael sang and forgot the words to “Lucky.” I thought he was a goner. Tyler sang Charlie Chaplin‘s “Smile” which he mentioned he’d never heard although it was featured in Glee‘s first season. If I were going on The Glee Project, I’d watch all the Glee episodes again since they tend to pull TGP songs from the series since those have been cleared for legal rights. I thought Tyler did a poor job and I winced at times as he was off pitch at times.

Michael and Tyler both botched their performances. Tyler’s been in the final three regularly and always reminds his judges that he’s going through a major transition vis-a-vis his gender. It’s true and sincere, but should he constantly get excused and protected? Then blowing the lyrics twice is quite a blunder. In the end the judges decided that Tyler should go. While they liked him and sympathized with his challenges, as Zach told Charlie, “This is a job.”  Tough as it was to do, the judges sent Tyler home.

I think that was the right decision, hard as it may have been. I doubt Tyler could deal — all at once — with the physical, emotional and professional challenges he signed himself up for.

Glee: Re-energized?

I just learned that Lea Michele will be back for 22, count ’em 22 seasons with Glee. The series will have a new format and split its time between Lima, Ohio, and New York, New York. Huh?

Lea’s a great talent, but this kind of bet hedging is bound to fail. Isn’t the show Glee in part about urging people to take risks because that’s what works?

Sounds like the writers are putting the show on life support.

Clearly, none of the Glee writing staff has watched MI-5. If they had, they’d have learned how to introduce and kill off beloved cast members.

A spin off makes more sense and would be more financially rewarding. It’s not like the Fox Network has too many good series on the air. Mary Tyler Moore spun off Lou Grant and Rhoda. All in the Family gave us The Jeffersons and another show.

The Glee Project, Season 2 so far

The Glee Project is off to a good start this summer. The contestants have a wide range of personalities and life experiences, yet after watching 3 episodes I don’t have the same familiarity as I did with the first season’s cast.

As in season 1, Individuality was the first episode’s  theme and the week’s video would be to “Born This Way.” I was just getting to know the 14 contestants and you know that one show is not enough to show your real potential and ability. Yet someone had to go and it was Maxfield, a country singer with charm. Compared with the Tyler, the transgender teen, and Alyn, a spitfire Muslim of Turkish descent, Maxfield didn’t inspire the same story possibilities for Glee. While that reason wasn’t stated, I think that was what it came down to for the first episode. The other two offer story possibilities that inspire Ryan Murphy so it seemed to early to let them go.

Apart from my thoughts on their talent, I do begin to get some definite preferences. Lily comes across as narcissistic and shallow. She lacks concern for others and is rather open about that. I wouldn’t miss her. Alyn has a charming vivacity. Nelli’s quiet, but that makes me think she’s got depth and potential. Tyler reminds me of Urkel from Family Matters. 

I was surprised to see Dani go home at the end of Dance-ability, but then again I wasn’t. She’s a talented, likeable performer, someone who’d make a good friend, but she doesn’t fit into the bold colors and emotions of Glee. To become a Gleek, Dani would have to distance herself from all her strengths and best traits, to morph into a caricature as I’m afraid we’re seeing Sam and Damien do.

I was quite surprised and sad to see that Taryn decided to leave the show in this episode. While talented, Taryn admitted she felt it was too much to live in the dorm and participate in this show. I can see how someone could feel that way and reality TV isn’t the only on ramp for a career in music. I wish we’d have gotten to see more of her, but she probably chose wisely.

Glee: Goodbye Episode

Well, I predict the disappointing season 3 of Glee won’t sell many DVDs. I’d hoped for better with the finale, but while there were a few good moments, it was really just a mishmash of emotion and storylines, that seemed thrown together.

It’s been a year of far-fetched incidents and caustic humor that’s grown old. This episode was no exception. It seemed that after winning Nationals, the writers didn’t know what to do with the cast. Quinn helped Puck study for his make-up exam and her flat-line emotion inspired him to buckle down and get the C- (a Puckerman A) he needed to graduate. Whoo who. So much for music improving students’ grades.

Finn fooled Rachel, who got into NYADA,  into going on to New York on her own and this manipulation was packaged as a positive. While she probably should go, it would have been better if she decided to with Finn. This is 2012, right? Then out of the blue, more or less, Finn decided to enlist in the army. Quite a squandered event as no one but Rachel gets to challenge his signing up and when she sees the lights of Broadway, Rachel quickly forgets that her true love is most likely headed to Afghanistan. Are we to think she’s that vapid?

At one point, Will confesses to Finn how he planted the pot in Finn’s locker to get him to join Glee and Finn thinks that’s cool. He might have reacted that way, but it really didn’t seem worth mentioning after all this time.

One high point was Burt Hummel‘s dance to “All the Single Ladies” which he offered to Kurt as a graduation present.

Blaine, who really should return to the prep school where he’ll learn more, brought up the topic of breaking up with Kurt. After all long distance relationships are hard. Yeah, but Blaine, you’ve got all summer with Kurt so why mention this now? That’s what irks me about Glee, it’s far fetched when it doesn’t have to be.

Santana toyed with the idea of going on to New York and it seems she is NY bound. Her mom, played by Gloria Estefan, first wanted Santana to go to college as she hadn’t and the mom had been scrimping for years for the tuition. Their discussion was very rational and non-dramatic compared with real daughter-mother discussions of this sort. Santana’s gotten too mean and caustic for me to really care about her. She’s one dimensional and it’s hard to see what Brittany supposedly finds to love. I think this character, like many on Glee, is just a lump of clay that writers shape as they like without thought of consistency.

It was odd that during graduation, this little club that is a bleep on the school’s radar was so prominent in the graduation ceremony. McKinley seems to have students graduate in random order, neither alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order. This episode and the previous one about nationals points out one strange omission of Glee. In this era of hover parents, these characters’ parents, except for Burt, have been implausibly absent. I think the writers have missed out on good stories by neglecting Quinn’s parents after the first season and Rachel’s till this season. Seasons two and three could have been richer by bringing in more conflicts with parents. That’s a big part of teenage years and fits with our times.

I do hope Kurt doesn’t just mope around Lima for the next year. He can and should get into college. I’d expect him to have the brains to find another interest that he can cultivate.