'Glee' delivers a mostly merry Christmas story

Dec. 8, 2010 at 9:33 AM ET

Ryan McGee of writes: Many of you might think of me as the “Glee” Grinch who swoops in weekly to steal away the joy you get from the show. That’s definitely not my intention, and I definitely don’t get a sense of joy at tearing down a particular episode that I dislike. Disliking “Glee” is never, ever my first option: in fact, I think it’s singularly capable of producing as much joy in my too tiny heart as anything on TV right now. So when I leave out my weekly emotional milk and cookies and get television coal in return, well, I get a little angry.

“A Very Glee Christmas” is almost entirely criticism-proof. Trying to criticize this episode is a bit like criticizing double rainbows. However, I’m tasked with answering the question, “What does it MEAN?” by the powers that be here at HitFix, so while I stared slack-jawed at what transpired tonight (in ways both good and bad), I still have to try and make sense of this episode as something more than a 40-minute commercial for the show’s Christmas album. Many of the show’s bad traits were on proud display tonight, but there was a sweetness at its core that, while violating most of what’s come before it this year in terms of tone, nevertheless represented a possible way forward that might actually work heading into 2011.

On one level, having New Directions literally identify with the Misfit Toys and the denizens of WhoVille is the type of on-the-nose reference that made “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” so groan-inducing. On the other hand, the transformation from outsiders that keep looking outward to a small society that looks to each other for what they do have as a collective is the story that the show’s been trying to tell (however clumsily) all season. It didn’t help that an episode in which everyone rallied around Kurt was immediately followed by an episode in which everyone hated each other, but fine: chalk up last week’s tensions to Sectionals and Kurt’s absence throwing off the group dynamic. See? I’m in the holiday spirit, people!

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