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Glee: Why Season 4's Show-Within-a-Show Will and Won't Work

Date May 14, 2012

Glee, Lea Michele and Chris Colfer

The Glee waiting game is over. At least a little. When announcing Fox's 2012-2013 TV schedule, entertainment president Kevin Reilly finally gave Gleeks a glimmer of what Season 4 will look like following the New Direction seniors' graduation. Instead of selfishly making Rachel (Lea Michele) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) hang around McKinley next year like Lima losers, the show will follow the duo to a performing arts school in New York — where they'll run into the likes of Kate Hudson and Sarah Jessica Parker — while also still keeping up with New Directions. But will the show be able to pull it off? We look at why this approach may or may not succeed:

Why It Will Work: Because the writers have shown they're just getting started with Rachel and Kurt. After so much attention was paid to Ms. Berry in Season 1 and Kurt's struggles in Season 2, it seemed their best story lines were behind them. However, instead of making "Finchel" the most boring couple ever, the duo experienced realistic struggles about her longtime ambitions (and his lack thereof). And Rachel bombing her NYADA audition? A hard twist to watch, but the fallout has opened up a whole new side to her. Kurt and Blaine actually did become McKinley's most boring couple for awhile there, before Blaine recently revealed his deep-seated worry about the future of "Klaine." Will they be able to make it work? And what will each be like in their respective habitats without the other?

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Why It Won't Work: Because the show has a hard enough time servicing its big cast as it is. Case in point: It took half the season and a random pregnancy to get Coach Sue back in the game, and Brittany acknowledged in last week's prom episode that she stopped talking midway through the year, a reference to her character being put on the backburner. Even more problematic is the fact that the show is going to have to introduce new characters at McKinley to join New Directions, so that when next year's seniors (Artie, Tina, etc.) graduate, fans aren't left without a familiar face in the choir room. But how is the show supposed to properly highlight the new kids with such limited screen time? Also, has anyone stopped to think what should happen if the powers-that-be decide they want to do another show-within-a-show to follow one of next year's seniors? Will Season 5 be split three ways?

Why It Will Work: Because as much as everyone wants to run for the hills Lima Heights Adjacent whenever Glee talks about bringing a famous face on board, the show has done a pretty good job with this season's guest stars. We would love to welcome the charming Ricky Martin back as a recurring character, since David Martinez is now supposedly the permanent Spanish teacher. And Matt Bomer's doofus commercial star Cooper both brought big laughs and managed to make Blaine likable again. For every wasted opportunity (we're looking at you, John Stamos), there's a Gwyneth Paltrow just waiting to bust out her best Mary Todd Lincoln impersonation.  KHud and SJP, the choice is yours.

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Why It Won't Work: Because it's pretty unclear how Glee's beloved theme/tribute episodes will work when the two worlds are hundreds of miles apart. It's one thing for all the New Direction kids to talk about how much they miss Whitney Houston or wish they were like Gaga and then bust out a signature tune, but are Kurt and Rachel going to suddenly develop telepathic skills to get on the same page? This is Glee, so stretching the imagination is a required part of the game. But it's still something to consider.

Why It Will Work: Because those big Broadway numbers Gleehas been trying to push all season will finally find a good home. Season 3's elaborate re-enactments from musicals like Dreamgirls and Chicago never quite fit in (especially considering the "Cell Block Tango" was used to talk about spousal abuse), but we can totally see Kurt and Rachel busting out some Wicked (get it?) dialogue at NYADA.

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Why It Won't Work: Because this is what spin-offs are for! It's still unclear why the plug was pulled on an actual Rachel-Kurt spin-off last summer after word leaked that they would be leaving the show. Maybe Ryan Murphy is that "you ruined the surprise!" guy everyone is scared of at birthday parties? It doesn't help that Glee's numbers have softened in Season 3, making a second show less financially sound. Plus: Fox already has two other music-heavy series. Do they need a fourth?

Glee airs Tuesday at 8/7c on Fox.

Are you excited for Season 4? What do you think about next year's show-within-a-show?

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