Now that's trainwreck television.
In just one week "The Glee Project" went from a typical reality competition laying the groundwork for a new season with far too many contestants to keep straight, to a complete debacle that leaves you wondering if anyone deserves to win.
What went wrong? It starts right here:
Homework assignment: The Go-Gos' "We Got the Beat"
I'm sure these themes are totally random, and eventually they have to get the kids to dance. But did they not realize that not a single one of the 13 remaining contestants can actually dance? And asking them all to participate in a big group number is like going to a zoo, picking out 13 random animals, and expecting them to come up with their own choreography?
Obviously not a lot of thought went into this week's show. As we can tell from this:
Guest Mentor: Samuel Larsen
Yes, for "dance-ability" week they called in the obvious "Glee" cast member -- not Harry Shum Jr. or Heather Morris or even Matthew Morrison, but last season's "Glee Project" co-winner Samuel Larsen who is known primarily for his dreadlocks, genial personality and faintly rocker-ish aura. We even first see him with a guitar, which he has to put down because this week's theme, again, is dance.
The very idea of a dance challenge immediately causes tension in the group. After last week's friendly rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide who'd sing what line in the homework performance, this week stirs up minor arguments. Mostly because Mario (the blind guy) is adamant about singing a certain line that Ali (the wheelchair girl) is demanding to sing (the part that goes "round and round and round," so she can spin around in her wheelchair -- seriously).
Mario throws a little fit. Ali ultimately gets the line, and Ali observes to the camera that Mario is "starting to rub people the wrong way." (I'm hoping this foreshadows more conflict to come with Mario -- he's already proven his ego is bigger than his talent, and if we're going to have to endure him on the show we should at least get some good drama out of it, and not just fake uplift over how inspiring it is that he's blind.)
Even this little bit of drama is too much for one of the contestants: Taryn (the shy girl who had never been on a plane before) calls her mom crying that she wants to go home. The next morning, Robert comes in to inform the kids that Taryn quit.
This is all handled in a deeply weird way because Taryn apparently disappeared in the middle of the night when no cameras were around. It's almost like she got whacked by Tony Soprano. As Robert explains: "Living in a group like this extremely stressful and unfortunately Taryn wasn't coping well with the pressure."
One of the nondescript white boys -- Michael -- is really sad. Apparently Taryn was his "close friend." (Did he know her before the show? I don't see how anyone could've formed meaningful friendships this fast, unless the auditions are far more extensive and intense than we're permitted to see.)
The last words on Taryn come from Robert, in keeping with "The Glee Project" spirit of unfounded positivity: "I'm confident she's gonna be OK and do great things!"
Once we finally get to the homework performance it turns out to be a horrifying spectacle of uncoordinated chaos. Limbs flailing everywhere, bodies jerking in uncomfortable motions, strained attempts to look loose and crazy. Who put these kids in a competition that involves singing, acting and dancing?
Samuel singles out Aylin, Abraham and Shanna as the least embarrassing and decides that the homework winner is... Abraham (the Asian).
Even though the show pays next to no attention to Shanna this week, she won the homework assignment last week and didn't completely botch the dance number, so she's clearly shaping up to be a major force.
Now it's on to this week's music video: LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem."
In the downtime between challenges, there's a tiny bit of story developing as Charlie (the ADHD boy) and Aylin (the Turkish Muslim girl) have already struck up a showmance.
Charlie: "Talent is attractive to me." (Translation: Aylin isn't conventionally hot, but I want more screen time and this is one way to get it.)
Aylin: "I guess I'm just super flirtatious." (Translation: I almost got eliminated last week and Ryan Murphy told me I need to start flirting with the boys, so give me a break, OK?)
The first challenge to their blossoming love: During a game of Spin the Bottle in the "Party Rock" video rehearsals, nondescript white boy Blake spins the bottle to Aylin, and they full on make out. Which makes Charlie really jealous, until Aylin plants a kiss on him too. How flirty and fun!
Meanwhile, in the vocal sessions, Lily (the big girl) struggles with pitch and timing even though she has vocal training. Nikki is not pleased.
It's time to get dancing, and as choreographer Zach Woodlee notes, "This is dance-ability week and obviously they're not dancers... I think the main objective now is to get through a number, even if you miss a couple of steps, and make it look like you're having fun."
During the video shoot, Zach opines that it's "Almost as if everyone got amnesia at the same time" and "At this point I think standing would be better."
How bad was it? Blake and Michael who were flat out terrible get singled out as two of the best.
When it's time to announce the bottom three, Robert demonstrates he's been smoking something crazy by declaring this week was the "best homework assignment performance of all time." Uh, that's not what we saw. He then sobers up to acknowledge what we did see: the "worst music video shoot of all time."
As Zach explains, deciding who makes it through this week was all about figuring out "who sucked the least." That group includes Aylin, Shanna, Blake and Michael, followed by Ali, Charlie and Mario. There are stern words for Nellie and Abraham, but they're safe too.
That leaves the bottom three: Dani, Tyler and Lily.
LAST CHANCE PERFORMANCES
Song: Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide"
What Ryan Murphy says: She's an artist but not a performer in the way the show needs performers. (Translation: she fits a generic androgynous indie music look but has zero charisma.)
Song: Elton John's "Daniel"
What Ryan Murphy says: Tyler "came up like 3000%" from last week's last chance performance. (I guess that's true if 3000% of zero is still zero.) Still, although Tyler is "brave" in his personal life (he's transitioning from female to male), why can't he be as brave in his performances?
Song: Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!"
What Ryan Murphy says: She did a nice job flirting with the band during her performance but why did she talk back to Zach? Lily admits she has a history of questioning authority with her high school choral teacher. This concerns Ryan.
Although Murphy has worries about each of the bottom three and their viability on the show, he ultimately makes a decision.
Not called back: Dani
Her parting words: "I'll take this as a huge learning experience and hopefully grow a lot from it."
And let's all hope "The Glee Project" grows from here. Because this week was a disaster.
What did you think? Do you have a favorite yet? Can you imagine any of these contestants on "Glee"?
'The Glee Project' recap: 'Dance-ability' disaster and someone quits
Two people go home -- one by choice -- and a showmance is born
Now that's trainwreck television.