After failing to create any original story lines or legitimate interest with the newbies at McKinley High, the creators and writers of Glee made a game-changing decision last week. They cut their losses, crushed the underdogs with a fatal almost win at nationals, and set up a new base camp in New York, New York. This is a giant leap in the right direction and this episode is proof.
As usual, this episode’s musical numbers are solid and fit snugly into the story. “Downtown” is campy and fun despite moments of obviously inaccurate lip-sync, due to unreliable play back options on the very noisy streets of New York City. It is a fitting beginning of this new path the show and many of the characters are taking. It’s a very Mary Tyler Moore opening, which fits in nicely with the Funny Girl theme that is an important, ongoing story arc. “Best Day of My Life” is the Blaine and Sam (Blam!) friendship at its best, spirited in a get-out-that-funk-bestie kind of way, and “You Make Me Feel So Young” is sweet and idealistic, perfect for a couple finding their way in the city together after a long separation.
Unlike many of the episodes this season, the writing is spot on in this east coast installment. The dialogue is dynamic and believable and our leads stay in character through out the episode, reacting appropriately to each other and their situations.
Sam’s struggles in the big city aren’t nearly as surprising as the way Glee handles them, well. Sam is a country boy. Living in a loud, smelly, diverse, and densely populated city like New York, New York should freak him out. City folk like Kurt, who never belonged in a small town to begin with, find anonymity in a crowd comforting but people like Sam should find it disorienting. At the same time, his desire to be a model on his own terms without getting hopped up or down on pills fits his personality and his back story. He’s obviously proud of his body as he was a stripper in a past Glee lifetime and isn’t shy about bringing it up. And he finally cut his hair. Yay!
Artie’s struggles as a handi-capable person in a city built for fully mobile people is also really well written. His fears are expressed with a hint of embarrassment that not even the protective net his friends throw around him can save him from. And it is also an appropriate segue into the oddly satisfying budding friendship between Artie and Rachel.
Kurt and Blaine are finally acting like they are romantically involved. From sweet domesticity to Blaine’s compulsion to glue himself to Kurt to their knock out word brawl, the writers have finally found an authentic way to allow these two characters to rub each other the wrong and right ways. They have even been promoted to PDA capable, complete with couch bound make out sessions and make-up sex.
“New York, New York” is proof that Glee is still capable of piquing and keeping our interest with honest, funny dialogue, over the top music numbers, a little logic, and a healthy dose of continuity.