There is so much in this clip: Madonna! Sue Motherfucking Sylvester in a cone bra! Mean banter! Oh, there is a hole in our heart that goes all the way to China, which is how far away April seems right now as we wait for the show to return.
But there is also something about this that seems a little bit grasping, trying to be everyone's idea of what Glee should be instead of the wonderful music-playing snow globe that invited us to turn it upside down and watch the snow fall, but wouldn't change for anyone. That is what we loved, that self-created tchotchke, not some reaching coockoo that tweets and launches jazz hands at us at the top of every hour.
So many shows—Twin Peaks, Heroes, Ugly Betty—had amazing first seasons only to fall prey to their own success and become horrible messes that we hate ourselves for loving in the first place. But not Glee! We won't let it. Here are some lessons that the writers need to remember if they want to stay afloat.
Let the Plot Drive the Songs: This has always been one of the best parts of the show, that the selections never seem shoehorned in to sell albums, promote some other project, or get a guest star on the show. They always find the perfect song for the perfect moment, even if you don't think it's ideal at the time. While the upcoming all-Madonna episode makes my gay brain explode in glitter, I worry that it's going to work too hard trying to find a way to make "True Blue" work rather than just finding the songs that are right for the episode.
Be Careful with Guest Stars: We know that Molly Shannon, Jennifer Lopez, and Neil Patrick Harris (in an episode guest directed by Joss Whedon) are all headed to McKinley High. Two out of those three are awesome, but we worry. Write the roles and then cast famous people, don't write roles for famous people. That seems to be what happened with the diversion of the Kristen Chenoweth episode this year, which was awesome but out of sync with the rest of the show. If we want a show with ludicrous roles for celebs, there are still reruns of Will & Grace.
Be Careful with Camp: Using camp on television is like using pyrotechnics in a concert. If done right and with restraint, it's amazing. Done wrong and in excess you end up with Michael Jackson's hair on fire and the crowd screeching. We love the universe you set up and all it's out-there gayness, but just don't go too far afield.
Find New Struggles: Overcoming Sue Motherfucking Sylvester and getting through sectionals can only take us so far. We're going to need some new storylines, not only about the personal struggles of the Glee kids, but something for them to strive for. A great story always needs a wonderful antagonist, but having SMS piss in their punch every episode is going to turn this into a Dudley Do-Right cartoon in no time at all.
Stay True to Your Characters: Glee makes us cry every episode. While we may come for the production numbers and bitchy dialogue, we stay for the wonderful characters. Whether it's Babygay Kurt coming out, everyone banding together to support Artie, Rachael finding a way to be a human and a self-serving bitch at the same time, we love these kids and we love their emotion. As soon as you trade that in for silly stunts and ludicrous theatrics, you're going to lose all of us.