Saturday, 24 September 2011

Rage Time - Blaine's a WHAT?!

Spoilers today have alerted us to the fact that Blaine Anderson, formerly of Dalton Academy, now McKinley High's newest victim, is, in fact, a junior - not a senior like his boyfriend Kurt.

I do not even know where to begin, on this one. To quote a great man: I am in a rage. This is the maddest I've ever been. At Glee, at least.

First of all - continuity.

Early on in Darren's tenure on the show, Ryan Murphy said this:

"Darren has a major, major arc ... He sort of becomes Kurt's mentor and then maybe love. He had to leave his own school because of bullying and goes to an all-boys academy and finds acceptance because that school has a no-bullying, zero-tolerance policy. So Kurt really admires him and respects him. He plays someone who is one year older than Chris' character, so he's the old pro."

At Comic-Con, when questioned about coming back to Glee as a regular, Darren Criss said this:

So Ryan Murphy said everyone's a senior this season except Sam. But he also said Blaine is "ambiguous." How old is Blaine to your knowledge?
I have no idea how old I am! I truly don't know, and you can call me irresponsible or ignorant or what have you — maybe I don't do my homework — but I remember hearing I was a year older than Kurt. I remember reading that when Ryan was talking about Blaine. So that would mean he's graduated by now but maybe....

Maybe he failed a year!
Maybe he did! Or maybe he transferred a year! But there's always people in your class who are older, like, "How come you're not a senior?" And then they say so-and-so happened. Or maybe he took some time off. [Or] he had a little bit of trauma at his old school? He is a year older than Kurt, but maybe he's still a junior or senior.


In episode Silly Love Songs, Warbler leader Wes refers to Blaine as "junior member Blaine Anderson" - giving us, we thought, both his grade status and his last name for the first time - (though people who really know their fandom will know we got Blaine's last name several months before this, when some fans asked Darren at one of his gigs in December 2010. To this day we do not know, however, if Darren made up the name and the show ran with it, or whether his scripts/contracts always had "Blaine Anderson" on them but it just hadn't yet been used on air.)

In season two finale, New York, when Rachel and Kurt discuss their plans to come to the city for college, Kurt states "I talked to Blaine, he's on board as well." - this implied to us again that Blaine was in Kurt's year level and would be graduating at the same time.

Now, Glee does what it will with continuity - it is one of my biggest issues with the show. But with all Ryan Murphy's talk of keeping the aging and graduating of the characters realistic, making Blaine a junior is a real stretch at this point.

It's more than a stretch, actually - it is a completely transparent attempt, on the part of Fox, to tie down Darren Criss - and his legions of loyal fans who'd walk through fire to see just a little more of him - for another year. You don't sign that guy as a regular and then only have him on for one season. You milk every last drop out of him that you can - even if it means backpedalling and bad storytelling and retconning that the actor himself has actually thought about and questioned. Darren Criss has, in many interviews, proven that he has gone above and beyond the call of duty in his creation of "head-canon" for Blaine - and let us not also forget that every subtlety, every layer that people noticed about Blaine in his first few episodes - things that had people piece together and assess many of his character traits that ended up being confirmed further down the line - was crafted by Criss himself, who has stated that he had no input from the writers apart from the words in the script and in fact had not even met them until well into his tenure at Glee. When asking, upon first being cast, whether he was meant to sit down with the writers and learn Blaine's motivations, he was told by the casting director "oh honey no, that's not how it works here."

I'm dying to hear how he's going to put his trademark positive spin on this development.

So yes - making Blaine a junior is a very obvious attempt to hang on to Darren, his popularity, his pre-existing and yet still growing fanbase who buy the tunes in a much more dedicated show of support than the some of the more casual fans of the show in general.

Darren Criss has signed a contract as a regular for Glee, which is a great opportunity and reward and acknowledgement of the impact he has made since joining the show. However. We don't know what is in that contract. That contract was signed before season 3 plots were developed, certainly before the cast recieved scripts, and Darren Criss spent the whole summer between signing the contract and going back into production telling the press that he did not want Blaine to transfer to McKinley and that he did not want to be a full-time New Directions member. One does not have to be in every episode to hold a regular status with star billing - Mike O'Malley and Jayma Mays would be examples of that - and, given Criss's elaborations on what he wants for Blaine and what he thinks of the show and the other cast members, it sounds like he was expecting or hoping for a role where he would just be looked in on now and then as needed - he's a humble guy, but he takes that graciousness to another level with the amount of times he's stated things that can be paraphrased as "stop giving me screen time, it is unfair to your original cast, you're over-saturating people with me and it has become ridiculous."

Aside from openly stating the in-character, plot based reasons he does not want Blaine to transfer, you must wonder about how this ties into Darren's personal situation. He's spoken frequently about his friendship with the actors who play the Warblers and how they all started together and how he hates seeing their talent wasted (seeing as they do not provide the vocal tracks - Tufts University Beelzebubs do) and has championed them, going so far as to say:

"It drives me nuts that I can't hear them sing because they are incredible singers and dancers and actors. I think it would be really cool if we could give them a chance to be in the spotlight for a little bit and I'd be happy to step back and let them go for it."

Could his desire to keep Blaine at Dalton be to do with keeping his Warbler friends - mostly aspiring singers and actors doing commercial work - in a job? I will also touch very briefly on the fact that Criss has projects coming out of his ears and no time to work on them - be it films, voice-overs, offers of Broadway, and of course, his own creative projects, as a solo musician, composer and theatre-company owner and principal. His main support networks are in Chicago and New York, and just as he got Glee, he had been planning to relocate to one of these places due to feelings of disenchantment and lonliness. This is all on-the-record factual material.

All factors considered, and if you can put two and two together and make four, it seems like Darren Criss was not counting on a full-time, McKinley High level of committment to Glee, for a variety of reasons. And by the writers making Blaine a junior, this has locked him into not just one, but two more years of this committment - perhaps even moreso next year, when Blaine will inevitably become a New Directions lead. Even in his recurring role of the 2010-2011 season, Darren was more sought after than any other cast member for press. He did more interviews, performances and events than possibly the rest of the cast combined, as well as managing his own gigs, writing a musical score, teaching masterclasses, and, we hope, finding time to sleep. When the Glee Live tour took place, he attended nearly every fan meet and greet, doling out hugs, despite him being the only member of the cast who had repeated physical altercations - being pulled off stage, being grabbed and kissed, etc - with over-exuberant fans. How long can he go on like this?

I love watching him play Blaine and I think he does absolutely brilliantly, but with all this rolling around in my head as well, it's kind of killing the enjoyment.

Not to mention, if we go back to in-character, if Blaine really is a junior - either because they retconned their past facts, or because the transfer required him to repeat a year, or something - this makes Kurt look absolutely terrible and the relationship unhealthy. If they're trying to say he's always been a year below - then Kurt was asking him to come join him for his senior year, after which he'll go off to college and.. what? Leave Blaine at McKinley? Where he'll be bullied, a target, and miss out on all the opportunities at Dalton? Or if he had to, say, repeat junior year to get in at McKinley, because of curriculm differences or something - yes, I'm trying to insert plausibility into Glee, why do I even bother - Kurt is basically saying "transfer to spend a year with me, but it will mean you have to do an EXTRA year of school." Any way you look at this is fucked up.

Glee, I want to break up with you so badly.

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