Glee: Season 4 Premiere – Interview with a Show Insider

BTYM: I was struck by the relatively somber tone of the premiere. Clearly with a new season brings new and difficult challenges for the familiar faces, but it was more than that. Peppered throughout was the usual “our differentness makes us special” tone of course, but I also noted an insistence on gritty realness, particularly in New York. In a sort of, “oh you thought your life before New York was hard, well suck on this truth,” way. Though it was fleeting, there was a shot of the World Trade Center being reconstructed in the background of an early Rachel scene. I’m not super sure Glee is up to the caliber of making even tacit references to 9/11 rebuilding, but it wasn’t so overt as to seem out of place. I’m wondering if you can speak to the decisions made going into this new season, specifically how to ramp up the hardships of the characters.

If I had my way, there would be no mention of the other characters because Rachel Berry is the most amazing character on television. Sure, she is not in the glee club anymore, but why should the basic premise of the show interfere with our writing? But to answer your question, it was decided pretty early on in our planning for this season to cram as many new characters into the plot as possible and not build or advance the depth of any one.

BTYM: Was the “Call Me Maybe” number meant to be a self-referential parody, or was it actually meant to be enjoyable?

We are contractually obligated to feature the billboard m usic #1 song over the summer. The thought is that after listening to “Call Me Maybe” every 32 minutes for 3 straight months, Americans want to hear a cover of it.

BTYM: I’ve read that basically all past cast members will have cameos this season, so it’s no surprise that several actors were brought in to fill the roles vacated by Finn, Mercedes (who is maybe the biggest and most unnecessary vocal loss), Quinn, Puck, Santana, and Mike. Some were old, some were new, some were borrowed from The Glee Project, and some were ridiculously hot bad boy indeterminately biracial baritone eye candy. Kurt has clearly aged since season 3 wrapped, and though a token mention of the above characters were indeed included in the episode, we still didn’t see or hear from Coach Beiste, Principal Figgins, nor Counselor Pillsbury. What’s the deal with all the cast changes?

We simply don’t have the time to come up with new archetypes so we are recycling previous ones. We lost a bitchy Santana, so we added a different Cheerleader bitch. We lost Coach Beiste, so we added a new fat lunch lady. We lost a bad boy- we get a new Puck.

BTYM: The NYADA scenes felt a bit disparate to me, and I’m not positive a real New York performing arts college would be this intense. Maybe it would, but obviously this is television, so some suspension of disbelief was warranted. Still, isn’t it a bit incongruous that the former star of Spring Awakening would struggle so much at NYADA? I suppose it’s too late to dial back Rachel Berry.

No comment.

BTYM: Where did Blaine’s back-up dancers come from?

They came from the same place as the random full orchestra. It is also where we store our flawless sight-reading pianists.

BTYM: Just Jake is…well he is a yes in my book. A thousand times yes. Please will there be more of him? And was it totally necessary to have his backstory be that he is Puck’s half-brother? It’s almost like the writers think the audience won’t understand what a bad boy is unless he is associated with Puck, a character who was gradually white-washed over the seasons anyway.

We want the audience to instantly recognize the angst of a Puckerman…but pay no attention to the fact that we have met both Noah Puckerman’s mother and father — both white. Also ignore that with the same surname, it implies that both boys share a father. But I agree, he is attractive and talented, so rest assured we will overuse Jake and ruin him the way we ruined Brittany.

BTYM: I noticed lots of hats. Berets. Fedoras. Head scarves. What’s that about?

Our cast members have very strange head shapes, and we try to hide it.

BTYM: Finally, what did you think about when scripting the final scene? We have the new underdog Marley (who is poor and sad yet has the look of a teen supermodel, somehow) singing Adele’s powerful “Chasing Payments” interspersed with Rachel finally breaking down and spilling her guts to Kurt. Who! Who just happens to have been unrealistically shepherded to New York sans money and sans plan by his father…for the purposes of this very scene. Personally, it brought the somewhat messy premiere home for me, and I’ll admit there was some pearl clutching and a single teary eye.

Ugh, we were running out of Adele songs, but then we found “Chasing Pavements” from 2008. Expect us to ruin plenty more songs this season; no genre or decade is exempt! I would say that we thought about this ending, but in all reality, we got feedback that the audience liked to see Rachel Berry cry, so we just wrote to that.

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