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Lisa Steinberg Headshot

Less Than Gleeful

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Every season of Glee starts something new. A new storyline, relationship, or path for writers to go down with each character. With Season 4 of Glee, it's as if all roads lead back to Season 1. Which may be good for nostalgia, but viewers have been there and gone through the emotions already when the core characters in Season 1 went through their sagas. Now that Glee has integrated a large amount of new characters in season four, why does it feel this year is like the same old Glee, and not a newer, fresher one? Why are all the core relationships I've grown attached to all but obliterated? Is Glee trying to relive the magic of Season 1 that's already sparkled and faded?

At first I rebuffed it, I didn't want to like her, but now she's grown on me and I am a huge fan. I'm talking about the character of Marley (Melissa Benoist). Marley felt a little too familiar when she first entered the show, but I couldn't quite place it. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks! Rachel Berry (Lea Michele). Marley's mannerisms attitude, and wide-eyed innocence made me feel like I was watching Season 1 Rachel Berry once again. It seemed so obvious when the little things started to add up more substantially, and of course the title of the Season 4 premiere episode was called "The New Rachel." Then I started to place other characters I knew from season one in the new cast members. That wild streak in Jake (Jacob Artist), that's Noah Puckerman (Mark Salling) and coincidentally Jake turned out to be Noah's half brother! The "no one moves in on my territory" attitude in Kitty (Becca Tobin), was queen bee Quinn Fabrey (Dianna Agron). More and more I noticed that what was new was really just the old tried and true. The push and pull struggle between feelings that Jake had for Marley, even though he was with Kitty, was the Finn (Cory Monteith), Quinn, Rachel love triangle! Finn's been wearing sweater vests, something that's a Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison) staple! The struggle Wade (Alex Newell) faced with his sexuality and who he really is, Kurt Hummel! Season 1 was playing out right before my eyes but with a new cast of characters. But I had already experienced that, I let it go and moved on as the seasons progressed, so why was I back at square one?

I know the reasoning behind having couples split up. No one is happy together 100 percent of the time, that's not reality, every couple has conflict. But the relationships fans had fought for along with the show's characters seem to have been hit with a grenade. Klaine (Kurt and Blaine) fans cried endless tears for Kurt (Chris Colfer) when Blaine (Darren Criss) told him he cheated on him. Brittana (Brittany and Santana) fans were distraught when Santana (Naya Rivera) broke up with Brittany (Heather Morris) saying she had a connection with another girl while away at college. Finn and Rachel went separate ways when Finn never called Rachel for months while in the army. The pain Finchel (Finn and Rachel) fans felt over this couple was raw and real. Kurt, Brittany and Rachel have all moved on, they have new budding romances, but they don't feel quite right -- it isn't that comfortable fit.

Brittany moved on quickly with Sam (Chord Overstreet), but even though it was Santana who ended things, Santana clearly isn't over Brittany. Recently Brittany told Santana that Sam makes her feel smart, which is exactly what she previously said originally about Santana. Not to mention what many in the fandom felt was a slap to the face in the episode "Swan Song" when writers mentioned "lesbian bloggers" that might get violent over Brittany's relationship with Sam. Not everyone who's a fan of the Brittana pairing is lesbian or gay, and certainly they're not a violent community. Some viewers felt it was a playful meta jab, but to the fandom it was disconcerting for the ladies who don't nearly receive as much focus as the opposite sex couples do.

So far the only redeeming Brittana moments have come in the form of fan fiction and photo tweets from fan fiction's future spawn of Brittana, Sugar Motta (Vanessa Lengies). Kurt and Blaine are working their way back to a possible romance, but for now it may just be friends with benefits. It wasn't right for Blaine to cheat, but it was not long before he got the itch to do so. Kurt all but ignored Blaine, even though Kurt specifically told Blaine before he left for New York he could never say goodbye to him and they'd make a long distance relationship work. So where was the effort on Kurt's part? They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but within a short time the vow that was made was forgotten by both of them. For the men who are destined for a Notebook-style romance, why were they drifting apart? Finn and Rachel were set to be married when he put her on a train to New York, but their relationship got derailed with Finn in the army and Rachel meeting Brody (Dean Geyer) at NYADA. Now Rachel seems like a shell of her former self, as if she isn't the same girl from Season 1 in "Don't Stop Believing." The girl who didn't care what her peers thought of her, she knew she was destined for greatness. Rachel's new life has taken her in all the wrong directions.

This Freaky Friday season of Glee has turned the show on its head and fandoms upside down. There have been several occasions where I've thought about letting go of the show I've cherished. This season I have felt lonely, isolated and abandoned from the characters that charmed me with their vulnerability in Season 1. With Season 4 of Glee, it continually seems history is doomed to repeat itself.