By now, you’ve probably heard who took home the big prize on Sunday’s finale of The Glee Project. All four finalists – Samuel Larsen, Damian McGinty, Lindsay Pearce, and Alex Newell – won guest roles on the upcoming third season of Glee. Lindsay and Alex will get two episodes, while Samuel and Damian are each slated for a seven episode arc.
But here’s my problem: the reason I loved The Glee Project so much was because it was way more realistic than Glee. We saw the cast rehearsing and practicing. We saw how competition can lead to egos, cliques, and a lot of hurt feelings. We saw that the fat girl doesn’t always get the hot guy. So it totally bummed me out that a show that had portrayed singing groups and competitions in such a realistic way turned out to be so completely fake in the end.
Spoiler alert: When in a competition, everyone doesn’t win.
Sure, I was a fan of all four of the finalists. Heck, I thought the entire competition was filled with super talented kids. And despite my appreciation for a good case of schadenfreude, I actually don’t get joy out of seeing young people have their dreams crushed. But do I think they all deserved to win? Not so much.
If you as me, The Glee Project finale just felt like one big cop out.
Maybe it’s because I couldn’t get a good handle on the judging criteria. The entire show, Ryan Murphy seemed to be wavering over why “type” of person he wanted on the show. He openly criticized the contestants for their own personality types. Alex, you’re too reserved. Lindsay, you’re quest to be perfect is not relatable. Samuel, you don’t feel like the underdog.
Yet, Samuel could probably be the underdog. And Alex could probably be more outgoing. And Lindsay could probably be completely relatable. That is, if Ryan Murphy writes them roles that require them to be those ways. I mean, they are going to be ACTING, aren’t they? Glee is still a scripted show, isn’t it? So what does it matter if I don’t root for Lindsay Pearce? I want to root for the character the Lindsay Pearce plays! Write me a good character, Ryan Murphy. And then let’s have a show to find exactly who’s skillful enough to make that character pop.
So as much as I appreciate that Damian is a super nice guy (something the judges mentioned every week during his seemingly permanent placement in the bottom 3), I don’t really care. As vocal coach Nikki Anders explained to Damian moments before his final performance, he wasn’t the best singer, dancer, or actor. So why again have we given him a seven-episode guest-starring role on Glee? Because he’s nice? Did a ten-week reality show competition really come down to Miss Congeniality? Heck, I should have tried out! I can be super nice!
Truth be told, I was never a huge fan of Damian. Or Samuel for that matter. Nothing against them personality (as we’ve established, Damian is nice), but I was totally rooting for Lindsay and Alex! They’re the two performers with the most talent. Lindsay is by far the best actress, and has an absolutely beautiful voice. She can take a song and give it that burst of life that none of her female competitors could do. Plus, did you see her beautiful blue eyes? ZOMG! Meanwhile, here’s overweight 19-year-old Alex who not only has the balls to be an out, proud, gay black man, but who also dresses in drag and out-sings everyone around him. Have you heard that boys range? Hot damn he can sing!
But Lindsay and Alex never had a chance to win because they were too busy being criticized for they actually were (or rather, who the judges perceived them to be).
On Monday, I talked to the four winners of The Glee Project, and asked them about this very subject. Did it bother them being judged on their personalities? Did they ever just want to yell, “I can act whatever you want me to act?”
Lindsay: “We wanted to!”
Alex: “We wanted to but we were all scared to!”
Samuel: “I think when I was thinking about going up for the role I went up for two years ago, the Sam role, it was different because he knew what he wanted the character to be like and I’m sure Chord [Overstreet] isn’t that way in real life, that’s just his character. So it’s really weird going into a role that is tailor made for you. I hope that they keep it so it’s easy to relate to, but I want there to be some freedom to play around with it and actually act it out. I don’t want to just be myself completely.”
Damian: “I think Ryan was so interested in personality because personally I think in Glee, Ryan casts people because of who they are and the way they’re acting is 90% of them. I think some of them aren’t really acting, they’re being themselves, and I think that’s why he was interested. And I think that’s also why there were just a few acting challenges on the show because maybe they had clear plans in their head that we’re going to be our own personalities on the show.”
Telling, huh? The two people who were criticized for their personalities the most – Lindsay and Alex – wanted to be judged more for their acting ability, but never did. The guy who was the clear front-runner who made it until the end of the competition before being in the bottom – Samuel – hoped he could stretch the part. And the guy who won based solely on his personality was totally fine with it all.
I don’t know why I’m getting all upset about it. Considering that our four winners hadn’t heard from Ryan Murphy at all yet – and filming for Glee‘s third season is already in full effect – I’m guessing that we won’t be seeing much of them at all. I’d doubt if Lindsay or Alex get their own full songs. Maybe some group numbers, but definitely not solos. As for Damian and Samuel, I’d bet they get about as much of a storyline as Charice did last season. They’ll be around, but not in any way that shakes things up.
But regardless of who won or what happens with their roles, I just want The Glee Project to be better next time around. Please – if Oxygen picks y’all up for season two – just pick one winner. Because if there’s no stakes to the competition, then there’s no joy in watching the contestants compete in the first place.
In the meantime, we’ll have to see how this bunch does when the third season of Glee begins on September 20th on FOX (check out a just released promo).