This week The Glee Project pulls a 180, going from over-the-top
Theatricality to the understated and emotional Vulnerability. The kids
are asked to expose their deepest insecurities, wearing them during the
video shoot for "Mad World," and some of them shine while others rely
on the most obvious clichÃ©s they can think of.
We also get Dot-Marie Jones (Coach Beiste) who is fantastic at vulnerability as we saw with her story in season 2. However, I put less emphasis on this week's challenge because, for me, the emotionally raw moments from Glee are often my least favorite, so I'm fine if a potential cast member isn't the best dramatic actor.
Since the 10 remaining kids on The Glee Project put themselves out there, here's my take out who succeeded and failed, from the least vulnerable to the most vulnerable.
#10 Cameron (Misunderstood): This is the worst possible challenge for Cameron because as the judges point out, he's pretty damn normal and well-adjusted. I guess Glee is about accepting everything, except normalcy, because according to the show's motto, everyone has to have something they're insecure or vulnerable about.
#9 Lindsey (Fake): Once again, the kids gang up on Lindsey, who even talks back to guest judge Dot-Marie Jones. My problem is that even her "vulnerability" is all about how all people see when they look at her is someone who's perfect. That may be the most conceited insecurity ever.
#8 Matheus (Small): He wins the homework challenge again, but I'm not sure I see much in him anymore beyond the very obvious fact that he looks unlike anyone else on TV. Also, despite winning, he's barely even in the music video, so I guess "featured role" doesn't mean a whole lot.
#7 Hannah (Fat): I like her, and she does a decent job of stripping away than fun energy she usually has, but like Matheus, this seems like a very one-dimensional choice.
#6 McKynleigh (Black or White): I really like her and think there's a lot more to her than we see, but she may be getting the least amount of screentime from any Glee Project contestant, which is sad.
#5 Alex (Gay): Being an openly gay teenager is the bread and butter of Glee, and I'm a little over it. Yes, it's very effective to see him standing in public with a giant sign that says "Gay" on it, but I feel like many shows, Glee in particular, have beaten us over the head with this message for so long that if it hasn't sunk in yet, it's not going to. New York just legalized gay marriage, and while that doesn't solve everything, it's enough proof to me that most people are accepting of homosexuality and it doesn't have to continue to be this major issue.
#4 Damian (Numb): I love this Irish dude, and I really relate to his vulnerability of feeling like he's emotionally numb and unable to find true love or connect with others. He proves that vulnerability doesn't mean you have to cry, it can just be about being honest with who you are.
#3 Samuel (Rejected): His story about being suddenly dumped by a girl he thought he was going to marry is sad (and a tad unbelievable since he's so freaking pretty), but it exposes a real insecurity that's more about his emotions than just what he looks like.
#2 Marissa (Anorexic): She initially goes with "Flawed," but changes it after seeing Alex, and that's something I really respect. Marissa makes the choice to actually be vulnerable instead of hiding behind some obvious or vague word, and it's quite powerful.
#1 Emily (Used): I assumed Emily was just a silly, bubbly Latina who wanted to stalk Darren Criss, but this week she really opened up about being used, sexually, by record producers, and it showed a different side of her. The judges questioned the way she would break character when the camera stopped rolling, but I don't buy into that whole method acting nonsense, so it doesn't bug me.
The Bottom 3
Cameron ("Your Song" by Elton John): His performance is just kind of awesome, and not only do I 100 percent love Cameron, but I want him to win because I can totally see him on Glee as a super cool nerd. Sadly, Ryan Murphy and the others gang up on him for not fitting in on a show about underdogs. Murphy has Cameron take off his suit, put on regular clothes and sing it again, and this time he likes it. Thank you, Ryan Murphy, for confirming to me that you're pathetically superficial and only care about turning people into one-dimensional stereotypes. The only difference between the two performances was the outfit, which tells me that Glee is about reducing characters to their most basic form instead of celebrating the genuine complexity of people.
Emily ("Grenade" by Bruno Mars): She tries way too damn hard to be a character, and Ryan Murphy loves it because it's a painfully shallow performance.
Damian ("Are You Lonesome Tonight?" by Elvis Presley): After the first two perform, Ryan Murphy has the audacity to claim that Damian seems the most "characateur-y," only this time it's a bad thing. Dos he really lack that much self awareness? Does he not realize that Brittany and Sue Sylvester and most of the cast of Glee are incredibly "characateur-y"? In the end, Damian delivers the best and most emotional performance that is positively beautiful and complex, shattering any illusion that he's a simple characateur.
In the end, Ryan Murphy, despite his flaws, manages to make the correct decision and Emily is eliminated. She was very vulnerable this week, but at the end of the day, Glee already has one Santana and it doesn't need a second one, which is all Emily would be.
In two weeks on The Glee Project: It's all about dancing with guest judge Harry Shum, Jr. (hooray!), some fierce Marissa booty-popping that has Damian thinking very dirty thoughts, and the diva-fication of Matheus.
(Image courtesy of Oxygen)