Glee: Season 3, Episode 17 – Dance with Somebody

It should come as no surprise that I, just like the rest of America, loved (pre-crack) Whitney Houston. I have fond memories of listening to my tape as loudly as possible while belting out “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” into my microphone/hair brush. Because of my deference to the tragic and talented singer, when the news broke that Whitney died, I honestly thought to myself “Oh, God, no one tell Ryan Murphy!”  Well, someone told and I it was only a matter of time until the world had to be subjected to a Whitney-themed Glee.  I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the writers for the show and ask him some burning questions.

Can I just ask, how long after Whitney died did Ryan Murphy decide to do this episode?

Ha, it was literally within minutes. Just between you and me, Ryan Murphy is actually both Perez Hilton and Arianna Huffington…if there is news, Ryan finds out immediately. He woke me up to tell me that my number one priority was to write a Whitney Houston episode and work in as many songs as possible. I questioned the decency of it at first, but then I remembered this is America and when a celebrity dies, there are no rules. If anything, I would say we waited too long to do this episode. It has been almost 2 months! America has moved on to dead celebrities like Dick Clark, Mike Wallace and Davy Jones.

I actually thought this was a pretty well-rounded show, though I think that is because the songs were so good.

Oh yeah, we were banking on that. I don’t know if you can tell, but we are not very good writers. We forget major plot points and characters…for example — Where is Coach Beiste? And remember Karofsky, the kid who tried to kill himself? Or what about Mike Chang’s application to dance schools? All dropped for more of my what America wants…which according to Ryan Murphy is dramatic gay teen relationships.  So, when the theme of the show is picked, we sit down to come up with vague story ideas and then make them fit to a song we want on the show.

Wow. Okay, so can we talk about the songs and the stories behind them? For example, the opening with “How Will I know.”

I love that song so it had to be in the show. When an audience thinks “Whitney” they also think “black person,” so obviously Mercedes (Amber Riley) will feature heavily in this episode.  But when writing the story behind the song we first wanted Mercedes to be looking at a picture of Trouty-Mouth, but since that story arc is dropped for now, we added some other cast members and made them mourn Whitney. This group had to contain to the people who would stereo-typically love Whitney, so Santana and Mercedes (women of color) and Kurt and Rachel (who probably sing “I Will Always Love You” in the shower).

How about “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” I thought it was the perfect song for dancer Heather Morris/Brittany S. Pierce.

Yeah, who knew this song was so easy to lez up? Obviously, America needs more gay and we needed a song that was not so overtly hetero…what better than one that has the gender neutral object ‘somebody’ in the title. I think we only had to change two pronouns and the rest of the song just fell into place. This song was perfect for Brittany, since her character is pared down to three basic ideas — dumb, lesbian, dancer. Unfortunately, Heather is not the greatest of singers.  She does not possess the powerhouse vocals necessary to perform Whitney. So once again, we needed Santana, but that works because they are both lesbian dancers.

Did a lot of thought go into choosing the song “It’s Not Right, but It’s Okay?”

Holy Shit, this song was a disaster.

What do you mean?

We were told that the show had to include at least one “comeback” song. You know, a song from the lost years after Bobby Brown but also after re-hab when Whitney decided to stage a comeback…I think it was around 1999. Ugh, those were dark times. And the singles that gained popularity were far and few between. It makes sense that a dark single like “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay” would come out of that. Our hands were tied. We now had to come up with a story line about cheating. The song was assigned to Blaine (Darren Criss) so now we had to fabricate a plot about Kurt cheating! But, come on, we are writers! We agreed to introduce yet another homosexual, show-tunes loving male to Lima, Ohio. Throw in some sexting, crying, a funny pamphlet and then a heartfelt, gentlemanly hug and BAM, we are back to normal. That song helped us add some real depth to relationship between Blaine and Kurt.

I don’t think it added depth, it kind of came out of nowhere.

Doesn’t cheating happen when you least expect it? And didn’t you love how Blaine and Kurt could openly communicate about their hopes and fears? Wasn’t it totally normal of them to sit down and discuss their sexual relationship with an under-qualified guidance counselor?  Aren’t they really mature for only being 17 years old?

Nope, it was weird and uncomfortable. And adults don’t work out their feelings in front of a large group by singing…

Maybe if they did, the world would be a better place.

Sure, whatever. I wanted to talk about another strange relationship developing on this show — Quinn and Joe.

Joe? Who is Joe? Oh, Joe Hart. Right, the pot-head with the nose ring. He is awesome, he won a role on the show in our reality competition The Glee Project. While on the show, we discovered that many of his tattoos are actually bible quotes and he is super Christian-ish. Since we lacked a strong relatable Christian character on the show, we created Joe –this super cool, hipster, dread-locked really nice Christian who helps Quinn on her paraplegic journey.  But, since Quinn is so desirable (a wheelchair-bound promiscuous teenage mother of one bastard child) it just makes sense for Joe to fall in love with her. I personally wrote the scene where they fall in love while doing Physical Therapy because when studying comedy writing at Northwestern, I wrote my honors thesis on hilariously hiding teenage erections.

Okay, well, I have had about as much of this as I can stand. Is there anything we can look forward to for next week?

Well, Will Shuester needs more screen time. We had completely forgotten about his marriage plans until this week, so prepare for more nonsense with his virginal fiancée Emma. Oh, and pamphlets, lots more pamphlets. Definitely more Rachel and Finn, we need to cram as much of them in as possible before they graduate. Though, having them come back as teachers or coaches is not out of the question yet… Also, less of the Changs, even less of that Irish guy who has not shown up for several episodes and even less still of Trouty-Mouth and Puck.

Until next week then. Thanks.

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