So everyone keeps getting annoyed when Ryan Murphy says “We’re doing something that’s never been done on television before” because we have assumed he’s meant splitting the location of the show as they have for S4, or splitting the school year as they are in S4/S5. Neither of which, frankly, seem particularly innovative.
But I’m fairly certain that’s not actually quite what he’s talking about it. What I think he’s talking about is seasons as the structural unit of American television.
Back during S3 when Glee’s ratings were tanking and they were negotiating for S4, there was a persistent rumor that because of the split season plan Murphy wanted 30-ish episodes. That would, among other things, have gotten Glee close to the magic 100 episode number for syndication and allow both NYC and Lima stories to get equal time.
That didn’t happen, and S4 was 22 episodes.
But S4 wasn’t written like a 22 episode season. It was written like 22 episodes of a 30ish-episode season.
My belief, especially with Glee’s frequent/constant hiatuses, is that Murphy has jettisoned seasons as a narrative unit of measurement.
No one would be particularly pissed about this episode if it wasn’t the season finale.
And while it may be the season finale in the sense of now the hiatus is a long one and this is how Fox marketed it, I don’t think that’s what we just saw.
5.01 will actually be 4.23. And Murphy hasn’t been full of shit. He’s narratively jettisoned the typical structural unit of US TV and we’ve been rolling our eyes at his huge, ground-breaking change, because nothing on the business and marketing end has lent itself to us being told this or hearing it when we’re told it.
And the shocking two season deal? Not really about two seasons. Just about the space it takes to finish the story. Which is really the rest of the 30ish episode S4 and a 30ish episode S5.
There is absolutely nothing to indicate this is true except the sheer force of will of not being satisfied with the finale and feeling the need to make an excuse and explain it away instead of accepting and facing the truth. This was the finale. It was meant to be the finale, complete with cliffhangers and all. They purposely planned to end the season at Regionals somewhere around ep 16-17. Which is why Ryan demanded the last bit of the season was complete filler. After GABOF, it was just filler. They did a school shooting that went nowhere. Ending the season at regionals was most likely a part of Ryan’s push to make the noobs happen. There are reasons Fox pushed back and didn’t automatically approve the season. At the point where Ryan is walking into the writing room and waxing lyrical about the color orange and brining SJP back only to sing “At the Ballet” there is obviously no plan. There is no plan. There is no plan. There IS NO PLAN. They didn’t have all of season 4 planned out. That has been evidenced by interviews and by the show itself. You don’t walk into the writer’s room and announce a plan for ep 20 or take story line suggestions for a Sadie Hawkins dance from twitter if you had a plan. This isn’t about having 30-ish episodes planned. The year long story has been told in 22 eps before. There’s no indication that whatever “brilliance” they plan to spring on the audience in S5 couldn’t have been done in 22 eps. There has been plenty of evidence that Ryan isn’t ready to let go of the choir room and is pushing the new characters in the final episodes to make them gain traction. Not everything needs an inventive explanation. Some things are plain on their face. The show doesn’t have to be perfect. Every mistake doesn’t need to be excused or explained as a part of some grand plan that never truly manifests. I understand the need to make folks feel better in this moment of disappointment. But making up theories that contradict interviews and evidence is not productive nor helpful. Yes, Ryan apparently wants to extend the season into next year for a bunch of eps. We knew this from previous interviews and spoilers. But that is not evidence of some sort of plan. In fact it is evidence to the contrary, because of this was Ryan’s stated idea since the beginning, Fox would’ve known and there wouldn’t have been the hold out for S5.