It's hard to remember the days when Glee was praised as being transcendent, quirkily charming, or the best show on television. Its second season averaged ten million viewers per episode, and the show has won six Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes, and one Screen Actors' Guild award. What we do remember is that time John Stamos drugged the glee club with laughing gas so they could hallucinate they were Britney Spears and the episode when Sue Sylvester shows up to Ms. Pillsbury's wedding wearing an exact replica of her wedding dress. Even in its critically adored early seasons, Glee featured some truly ridiculous storylines that were completely unnecessary for the plot progression or character arcs. The series entire instigating story arc revolved around a teacher framing a student for drug possession and that student believing his girlfriend got pregnant from hot tub water, for crying out loud.
I stumbled upon an old Twitter thread by @alisonluffs about terrible Glee storylines and was stunned by how hilariously bad some of the stories mentioned in its eleven thousand replies were. Then I remembered some that weren't even mentioned! Now, you know exactly which episodes to go back and watch. Relive the worst mistake of your awkward teen phase: being a Glee stan. Break out your signed Warblers CD (I know you have one), pop some popcorn, and let me know which of these plots made you laugh the hardest down in the comments.
Let's start with something that happened during Glee's third episode. That's right, it only took three episodes for the writers of Glee to lean super far into the weirdest aspects of the show, with Mercedes Jones breaking Kurt's windshield with a rock while singing the iconic cheating clapback, "Bust Your Windows" by Jazmine Sullivan. Why did she do this? Because she has a crush on Kurt Hummel, who she somehow didn't immediately realize was gay, and was told that Kurt had a crush on Rachel Berry. Clearly, the normal thing to do when your crush doesn't like you back is to beat their car with a rock while cheerleaders in bathing suits dance behind you...
During the show's Michael Jackson tribute episode, Blaine Anderson was involved in a parking lot brawl, where these rugged teens were armed with 7/11 Slushies. Because Darren Criss, who played Blaine, needed to briefly leave the show during his run as the titular character in Hedwig And The Angry Inch on Broadway, producers decided the best way to explain his absence was to have him be blinded by a Slushie filled with rocks being launched into his face, making the character need eye surgery, and then never mentioning that surgery again. Of course, saying he had mono would have been too easy.
Eleven million viewers watched as Finn Hudson found Jesus when his grilled cheese sandwich was biblically burned with an image of Jesus Christ, and then those viewers continued to watch as Finn sang "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M. because someone had the audacity to eat his Jesus sandwich, affectionately dubbed "Grilled Cheesus." Finn then proceeds to eat the leftovers from his sandwich, but only after the glee club sings "One Of Us" by Joan Osborne (also known as the Joan Of Arcadia theme song) and has all of their prayers come true. Because that's how Christianity works!
The strangest part of Glee's third season episode "On My Way" wasn't that Finn and Rachel decided to get married after the regional glee club competition or that Quinn Fabray was talked into attending the said wedding after a rousing seven-minute performance that ended with "Here's to Us" by Halestorm (who no one has heard of). Actually, in hindsight, it was that Finn and Rachel decided to get teen-married, but the shocking texting-and-driving car crash that lands Quinn in the hospital led to an even weirder moment in the next episode, when a wheelchair-bound Quinn decides her temporary injury is definitely the same as Artie Abram's permanent paralyzation, and the pair sing "I'm Still Standing" with only a small amount of irony.
Mr. Schue really needed to be stopped. He broke up his marriage to date an adorable teacher, who he then dumped because she was a virgin. He mostly hung out with teenagers even though he was well into his 30s, and the best years of his life were when he was in his high school glee club. The worst thing William Schuester did, however, was creating an all-male acapella R&B cover band comprised only of awkward high school teachers called "Acafellas," who performed "I Wanna Sex You Up" for Josh Groban. Josh, by the way, only attended to file a restraining order against one of the "Acafellas," although I wouldn't blame him if he extended it to all of its members.
Sue Sylvester always had a grudge against the glee club for some reason, and decided to use her brief dalliance with the drummer of My Chemical Romance as leverage against the student singing group by threatening to inform them that the glee club sang their song "Sing." She then admits that the cease and desist she gave the club from MCR was forged, and that she really hooked up with "that guy from Jimmy Eat World." The moment MCR agreed to this reference in the show is, incidentally, also the exact moment that punk rock died.
The twentieth episode of season three sees Tina Cohen-Chang fall into a fountain while texting her boyfriend, Artie, because multitasking while texting is actually dangerous (this is not a joke... it's really a hazard). When she wakes up, she is Rachel. Well, she's still Tina, but she dresses and acts like Rachel, and Rachel is now a shy goth. And Santana is now Artie. So does this mean that Tina was secretly in love with Santana? Or that she really wanted to date Kurt (who was actually Finn-as-Kurt)? None of this makes sense onscreen either, for those of you who don't have any idea what's going on.
Okay, so she didn't actually mean to kill Brittany S. Pierce, she just didn't care whether Brittany lived or died when she decided to fire her out of an unsafe cannon in order to win a cheerleading competition. Was this scheme worse than when she asked all of the teenaged boys in glee club to be her sperm donors? Or when she hired a plane to fly over the school with a banner about Blaine's sexual preferences? No, it really isn't, but it was somehow the darkest of all her nihilistic plans for world domination.
Sunshine Corazon is a Pinoy icon who joined the New Directions in Glee's second season. Or, rather, an icon who tried to join the New Directions but was given directions to a crack house instead of directions to the auditions by Rachel, who was threatened by her voice. First of all, why did Rachel just have the address of a crack house lying around?
Sunshine got the last laugh when Vocal Adrenaline got her a green card and a condo in exchange for joining their glee club instead, and she still got to go to Nationals.
It was universally decided that "Shooting Star" was in poor taste. The first red flag should have been when writers decided to make the title a school shooting pun, but the real kicker was when the episode was released only four months after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Glee never shies away from heavy topics, but they lacked the gravitas to handle something that hits this close to home for so many Americans. The potential shooting is never mentioned again on the show, and Vulture pointed out that there wasn't enough time given to the actual shooting and its aftermath. The author of that article also made the point that "it seems far more respectful to point to real stories with real consequences as a means of generating awareness, rather than making up a story where everything turns out just fine in the end."
Ryan Murphy somehow conned living legend Carol Burnett into appearing as Sue's mother in a second season episode where Sue marries herself in an Adidas tracksuit. This is not material worthy of America's most cherished entertainer! She has a Presidential Medal of Freedom for being funny! She did not leave The Carol Burnett Show for this! This plot point is so absurd I assumed it had to be from the later seasons. But nope, it was season two. The f—?!
Speaking of people who are too good to be on Glee, Demi Lovato is a beautiful angel who I completely forgot was on this ridiculous television show. Her first band with the New York City Glee regulars was called Pamela Lansbury, but the real kicker is when Kurt, Adam Lambert as Elliott, and Demi make a cover band that they name "One Three Hill." The Demi, Adam, and Kurt trio was a weird blend, matched only by the complete buffoonery of that gigantic Bushwick apartment where these 'struggling artists' rehearsed.
Can we stop with the "Angry Black Woman" stereotypes on this show, please? Mercedes already freaked out when Kurt wasn't in love with her, and then she freaked out again because he wasn't paying attention to her because he was happily dating Blaine. Her inability to realize that Kurt is, in fact, very gay leads to her taking out her anger on a tater tots ban in the cafeteria (and in the process revealing that she doesn't know what broccoli is). She literally starts a riot. Are there not better places we could have taken this character? Mercedes gets suspended for sticking tater tots in the tailpipe of Sue's car, which begs the question of where she got tater tots and what car still has a tailpipe.
In a world before Justin Bieber hotboxed planes and peed in random buckets, the singer was a plucky tween with helmet hair who was "truly honored" to have his music covered on Glee. Sam Evans tries to win back Quinn's affections by becoming a Justin Bieber cover artist, but it's actually even worse than that because he deems himself a one-man tribute band and gives himself the name "The Justin Bieber Experience." The ridiculous thing here, though, is that this plan actually works. It works so well that not only does Sam win back his girlfriend, she finds himself a hotter girlfriend.
Artie directs the school play, West Side Story, starring Blaine and Rachel, a plot point that probably should have come up more often considering musical theatre rehearsals take forever and consume your life. Artie tells Blaine and Rachel that they need to lose their virginities before the show opens in a week in order to act better. Thankfully, their partners realize this is fully insane and refuse to have sex before they're ready just because a seventeen-year-old told their partners it would make them better actors, but the fact that this was how Glee decided to explore first-time sex is just weird.
Muppets are terrifying. Glee's 2013 Thanksgiving episode was just Darren Criss in a sweater vest surrounded by Muppets, and I'm thankful that my recurring Muppet cult nightmares have finally stopped five years after the episode aired. Blaine is the victim of a gas leak that nearly no one else was affected by, so to everyone else, he's just a dude walking around while talking to a puppet he made that looks like his long-distance boyfriend. Even worse, the episode ends with the glee club dressing in animal masks and singing "The Fox (What Does The Fox Say)," a song I can happily say I'd forgotten until this very moment.
The batsh*t crazy really did start in episode one, when a supposedly beloved and hip teacher plants marijuana in a teenage student's locker to make him join an extracurricular performing arts club. If Finn had really been caught with the weed that Mr. Schue planted, he would have gotten kicked out of high school, lost the chance at a football scholarship, and possibly been tried for a felony mandatory minimum sentence for possession. But glee club is really important to Mr. Schue, guys, so it's totally fine! Mr. Schue gives Finn the choice between six weeks of detention or joining the glee club in a wonderful example of an abuse of power, and that's what you missed on Glee.
Quinn had a rough case of Post-Partum Depression that no one paid enough attention to, especially the writers of Glee. The only time it was really dealt with was when Quinn tries to get her baby back from its adoptive mother, Shelby Corcoran, who also happens to be Rachel's biological mom and a nice lady. In order to prove Shelby is an unfit mother, Quinn plants various items around her house for child services to find, including a book on how to cook and eat babies next to a bunch of knives. Taking things a little too far, I see.
Glee chose to air an episode set in the past during its fifth season because even the producers must have realized by that point that they had written themselves into a dead-end. The episode was called "Previously Unaired Christmas," and the world would probably be better if it had stayed unaired. In this episode, Santana, Kurt, and Rachel work as Christmas elves in a New York City mall, the only realistic part of their big city quest for fame. The "Sexy Claus" at this mall gets the trio high on helium and drunk (and also probably roofied them), hooked up with Kurt which is basically sexual assault by definition, and the Santa robs them and the mall before running away. Merry Christmas?
Rachel's biological mother is forty-seven and dates a teenager who is still attending high school. That's definitely illegal, right? Puck and Shelby even go so far as to have a sexual relationship while Shelby raises the daughter that Puck gave up for adoption because he wasn't ready to be a teen dad. Making everything weirder, Puck is in glee club with Rachel, the daughter that Shelby gave up for adoption. Oh, also, did I mention that Shelby was a teacher at these teen's high school? It's all so absurd that it would even be a bit much for a more dramatic teen soap like Degrassi: The Next Generation. If it's too much for Degrassi, it should be too much for anybody.