The “3” Glees

As per Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club, in his review of “Throwdown,” the theory of the “3 Glees” is the result of the series’ somewhat strange writing process:

It [is] written entirely by its three creators – Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan – but all three of those creators also seem to have wildly different ideas of what the show is. Murphy…is most interested in making the show a funhouse mirror version of an afterschool special. Brennan…is most interested in the sadness buried down at the core of the show’s concept. And Falchuk…is most interested in pulling the two approaches together in a hybridized fashion while deepening the teenage characters on the show.

Since Todd first theorized the “3 Glees,” the show has continued to cycle through the three writers, and their approaches continue to differ quite wildly: while it is unclear to what degree each writer “owns” their writing credits, considering that the writers room remains a collaborative process when it comes to breaking stories, Todd’s recent interview with Ian Brennan does suggest that the tension he observes is intertwined with that process. Many consider this to be one of the reasons the show seems to have a case of multiple personality disorder, and often arrive at this theory as a potential explanation for their reaction, as opposed to proof of the show’s inconsistency.

Note: In light of the addition of a stable of writers along with the executive producers, this page has become the “3” Glees, in light of the multitudes created by these new additions. You can find more on the logic behind this in my review of the third season premiere.

This page will not delve too far into the theory, but it will present the information in such a way that one can visualize how each Glee is stacking up, and read that information based on the context of their own viewing experience as the series continues.

Ryan Murphy’s Glee

Season One

Season Two

Season Three

Ian Brennan’s Glee

Season One

Season Two

Brad Falchuk’s Glee

Season One

Season Two

Season Three

Note: All three writers co-wrote both the series’ pilot [my review] and its second episode, “Showmance.” [my review]

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54 responses to “The “3” Glees

  1. elisabeth

    Interesting to see the breakdown.

    I think Falchuck’s episodes are the “best” in terms of being consistent and emotionally resonant. Brennan’s have some of the highest highs, like “Duets” and “The Rhodes Not Taken,” but he also loses many points for “Funk” and “Hairography.” (It seems like if an S1 episode made its points with a sledgehammer, it was a Brennan job.)

    And Murphy, well … you know what you’re getting with him. There’s lots of flash — almost an absurd amount — but he also did some nice character work on Brittany, Kurt and Artie. And he seems to be the only one to have a vision for Terri Schuester, though I’m not so sure I’d put that down as a point in his favor.

  2. Danny

    If you want a slightly better/more consistent logo, I think the Glee font is Century Gothic (or something close to it), and it looks like you used Tahoma for the red instead. Sorry, font nerd, and the little things bother me.

  3. Wow, breaking it down like that, I guess I’m on Team Falchuk, if I had to choose. But Ryan Murphy’s Glee is so insane and bizarre, it’s always a good time (even if ridiculous).

  4. My two favorite episodes of the Glee are “Wheels” and “Grilled Cheesus,” but I’d have to say overall that Falchuk’s approach is what I wish more episodes of the show followed. While I find episodes like “Britney/Brittany” to be entertaining, I much prefer the episodes where the music feels like it was picked to enhance or help tell the story than when it feels like they are shoehorning in a bit of story around a bunch of fun songs they want to do on the show.

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  6. Lawrence

    I’m not surprised to learn that Falchuk wrote “Cheesus.” The scene in the bedroom between Rachel and Finn portrayed Rachel as a controlling, frigid woman, the standard joke used by American Jewish male creative and performing artists against Jewish women for the past 100 years. (Full disclosure: I’m an old Jewish male and I know.) It (waiting until 25 to have sex) not only was inconsistent with everything we had learned about Rachel, it is inconceivable for a girl with her type of background. Some background here: http://whatwouldphoebedo.blogspot.com/2009/05/oh-misogyny.html

    • So Lawrence, let me get this straight: a girl not wanting to have sex with you must automatically be frigid? That’s the only possible way to read that scene? Really?

      • Lawrence

        Yes, really, declaring you intend to wait until 25 to have sex is an extraordinary statement for a brilliant Reform Jewish girl with 2 gay dads. Allowing a boy you say you love to touch the sides of your breasts for the very first time after 4 months of dating, and then only as a quid pro quo, is a sign of frigidity. Falchuk made Rachel into the new old Quinn, using sexual favors to control her boyfriend and expressing an equivalent shallow religiosity. Where the hell has the Rachel of “Showmance” gone?

        • In your opinion, maybe. If I ever tell a boy again that I don’t want to have sex with him then I sure hope he doesn’t go and call me frigid behind my back just because he’s pissed he didn’t get any.

          Doing everything but is something that teenage girls in general — setting aside religion entirely — are very much inclined to practice. You’re judging that scene entirely from a male perspective. This isn’t even something new with the character. Rachel told Jesse back in “The Power of Madonna” that she wasn’t ready to have sex. He respected her wishes, and you should, too.

          • Lawrence

            Finn wasn’t asking her to have sex. He wasn’t even asking her to let him touch her. He never registered a complaint about her in that regard, neither before nor after. None of that is the issue. Her statement about waiting until she was 25 came out of the blue and was bizarre and entirely inconsistent with her previous character development. Then when she puts his hand on her breast it’s done with no sense that this supposedly self-centered, selfish girl takes any special physical pleasure from it.

            Remember, Finn believes Rachel had sex with Jesse and doesn’t regret it, yet goes along without complaint with her refusing to even let him touch her after 4 months. None of this is the least bit realistic. Any one of all these facts is possible, but not all of them taken together. Since I only watch Glee to listen to Lea sing I can live with such nonsense, but I don’t have to like it.

          • If your problem is consistency, then that’s a problem with the show as a whole, not with this scene in specific. Glee has never had a firm grip on any of its characters’ behavior, ironically a large part of which is caused by this whole three-Glee thing which supposedly started this whole argument.

            EVERYTHING on Glee comes out of the blue. Characters say things every five minutes that have no build up whatsoever. It’s the style of the show. Obviously we are meant to assume that somewhere in between “The Power of Madonna” and now that Rachel has decided she doesn’t want to have sex until 25, but the point is that we have no context, so to automatically assume that the reasoning behind this sudden change is frigidity is frankly offensive. There are many, many different possibilities there.

            As for Finn, he’s the one who started the whole argument about religion (which on this show is inseparable from sex), so for Rachel to segue that into a conversation about when they’re going to have sex and what religion the children resulting from that sex will be raised in, is perfectly natural. At least, natural for Glee. She assumes their love is “4EVA” and is setting the boundaries. It has nothing do with frigidity.

  7. Glee can be frustratingly uneven, but dividing the episodes up by creator shows that there’s some method to the madness, and actually gives me a greater appreciation for what each creator brings to the table. I personally tend to like Falchuk best, but each one seems to hold the key to some essential part of the show’s DNA.

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  10. tyler

    I like Brennans version of glee simply because of the deep character develop he implements in his episodes. Pretty much all of my favorite episodes of glee are written by him including duets, audition, and hell-o. However I also loved the season finale written by falchuk.

  11. Petra

    This IS interesting and makes Glee make a lot more sense. I also seem to find Falchuk’s episodes the ones I enjoy the most while Murphy’s are the ones that are the quirkiest/most humorous to me. However, Duets made me laugh harder than any episode so far.

  12. I’m pretty sure that Ryan Murphy is mostly interested in ameliorating the gay angst he apparently felt in high school through the character of Kurt as he is in some kind of turmoil over his gayness every week. I like his episodes the best but his past becomes a little transparent when it comes to these episodes.

    • Lawrence

      RM was nothing like Kurt in high school. He looked like everyone else, got along with a slew of friends, and participated in a wide variety of activities. Kurt seems like a fantasy of what RM wished he might have had the courage to have been: a flaming snob.

    • Tobu

      It weirds me out a little, how many people are not just complaining about Season 2 being the “Kurt Show” but also insisting that it’s Murphy’s shameless pro-gay agenda suddenly hijacking the show and overfocusing on one character in an all-new way. This is nothing new. Season 1 was unabashedly the “Quinn Show” – nearly all the major drama stemmed from something to do with her, up to and including a meshing with the other major drama-plot of the season, Terri’s faked pregnancy. After she had her baby, they found a new seasonal plot.

      Yes, this might be bad writing, to let a single character carry so much drama…but if you’re going to actually start calling this season out for “too much gayness”, you should probably start calling Season 1 out for “too much pregnancy”.

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  19. rena

    Does it Really work that way?
    I thought they all write together- that doesn’t make sense to
    If Ian is the one to write Sue Sylveser lines- so that incorporated in episodes Ryan and Brad write

    • fish!

      They all wrote it together. Says Ian Brennan in an interview, “It varies. A lot of the times it’s who’s taken the lead in story breaking or who wrote a draft, but it is fast and loose, with the emphasis on fast.” 😀

  20. ithinkabouttrees

    I think Falchuk has all his sh*t together, while the other two keep throwing in idea’s hoping for the best. Honestly, I think that Glee has taken a turn for the ugly because the writers refuse to work together.

    I think it’s time they started talking and stopped brain storming.

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  34. The Great Fish

    Well, with “Glee” now having new writers (including Alison Adler, Marti Noxon, and Michael Hitchcock), this theory is, unfortunately, useless. Unless of course it turns into “The 8 Glees” (since the three creators/writers hired five people, including the three mentioned above).

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