The Glee Project Season 2 Premiere Recap: Here They Go Again

lea michele ryan murphy glee projectIn the words of Ryan Murphy, Season 2 of The Glee Project isn’t so much a talent contest as it is an “inspiration contest.” But let’s be honest: The grand prize isn’t going to go to some Sugar Motta type with a really touching backstory.

After all, if there’s really only going to be one winner of a seven-episode arc on Season 4 of the Glee mothership, I kinda sorta want that person to be the best all-around singer/dancer/actor among the 14 hopefuls looking to follow in the footsteps of Samuel Larsen and Damian McGinty (who went on to respectively portray Joe and Rory during Glee‘s third season).

[Ooh, spinoff idea for the balmy days of August! Why not bring back The Glee Project alumni Larsen, McGinty, Lindsay Pearce, and Alex Newell, and pit them in a Hunger Games-style showdown in which only one gets to reprise his/her Glee role for Season 4?]

Oh, Lord, we’re only one episode (and three paragraphs) in to TGP‘s second season, and I’m half suggesting casting director Robert Ulrich arm the contestants with knives, nunchucks, bows and arrows? Let’s CTRL+ALT+DEL this recap and start at the very beginning.

Our opening segment finds all 14 finalists moving into the Glee Project house. Significant screen time goes to Dani (hey! I remember her from America’s Got Talent!). She’s a little like that crazy dude from Ashley’s season of The Bachelorette who was never filmed without a mask. Except Dani’s mask is a Justin Bieber mask. [Cue sounds of teenage girls squealing, followed by uncomfortable silence.] There’s Ali, who wants to be thought of as the girl who sings and dances, not as the chick in a wheelchair. And there’s Mario, who describes himself as “a talented, cute young guy who just happens to be blind.”

On to the week’s “homework assignment” — where the contestants split Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” into 14 distinct parts, come up with their own choreography, then perform for Lea Michele and Glee creator Ryan Murphy while trying to prove they have individuality. Shanna and Dani make the strongest impressions with their limited solo time, while Aylin, Ali, and Tyler all struggle to stay on pitch. And whaddaya know, Ms. Michele gets it right, picking Shanna as the winner of a one-on-one mentoring session and secret disdain from her castmates.

Then it’s on to the week’s big challenege: recording vocals and shooting a video to the tune of Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again.” (Side note: How come no one ever covers this song on Idol?) Shanna once again destroys the competition with a glory note that has vocal coach Nikki Andres shouting “What the hell!?!” Maxfield*, meanwhile, displays all the vocal firepower of a newborn kitten trapped under a thick duvet. And then there’s Tyler, the transgendered 21-year-old who’s been taking testosterone for eight months and hasn’t gotten entirely comfortable in his transitioning body. Which is another way of saying that not only does the kid have the weakest singing voice in the competition, he’s not much of a dancer, either. [Cue sad trombone.] [*Stage name or real name? Discuss!]

Once the contestants get on set, the judges identify the weak links, then assign psychological/emotional problems to these contestants that are certain to be referenced for the rest of the season. Aylin doesn’t really seem to be into it. Taryn seems to scared to perform. Maxfield seems lost. Oh and Tyler does himself no favors by complaining that the slippery stage makes him feel like he’s going to die. Mario, on the other hand, oozes confidence: “I’m hella talented. I will sing and dance my blind way onto Glee.” Alrighty then.

Aylin, Maxfield, and Tyler wind up in the Bottom 3, and it’s hard to dispute the decision, seeing how I’ve had sneezes that lasted longer than any of their individual scenes in the Whitnesnake video. Aylin’s last-chance rendition of David Guetta’s “Without You” proves she’s got power and texture in her voice, and a glimmer of star quality, too. Tyler, who’s not excited about performing the Jackson 5’s “ABC” — “a child sings that song,” he huffs — shows off a quavery, nasal tone that sits on the corner of unpleasant and unlistenable. Maxfield’s “You Were Always on My Mind” is pretty, but also pretty dull.

Ryan Murphy tells Tyler he’s moved by his story, but not by his talent, which seems to be code for “you’re going home” — at least until then he starts talking about the kid’s “spirit and life force.” Uh-oh. In comparison, how can Maxfield and his “I’ve only been performing for six months” backstory inspire anything but ennui from Ryan? Remember: This ain’t a talent contest, people! These kids have to inspire the Glee writing staff to create a fictional character from their own personal expeirences and a little bit of DNA swabbed from the insides of their mouths.

And so it’s goodbye to Maxfield. Keeeeeeeep holllllldddiinnnn onnnnnn, and definitely keep up the deep conditioning treatments. Your hair was a Season 2 standout, kiddo!

What did you think of The Glee Project season premiere? Was Maxfield the right pick to go home? Or should Tyler have gotten the boot? Also: Who are your early faves? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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51 Comments
  1. bamabunny says:

    Eh, if they decide to keep Chord Overstreet (cute, blonde, does country if you count “Red Solo Cup”), Maxfield would have just been seen as an also-ran.

  2. Ann says:

    I SO wanted Tyler to go home! He was annoying! That Tyler seems to have no talent. He certainly can’t dance! I hope he goes home next week. Maxfield (yes, I think it’s his real name…like Maxwell) had a nice deep voice which Glee certainly needs in regards to singers. Although I didn’t think he would win the competition, I would have liked to see him stay for a little while longer to see if he would grow out of “deer in a headlights” stage of experience…I think he would have.

    • Nightingale says:

      I totally agree with you. Tyler keeps using his “new body” as a excuse for his terrible dancing.

  3. E says:

    I was impressed with Maxfield stepping into this type of environment with such a short time performing and seem the least like a “theater kid” of all of them. I wouldn’t have expected either of them to last much longer, but I would have kept his singing voice around another week to see if he could tackle/learn the other parts. Tyler, aside form his story, didn’t seem to measure up to any one else.

  4. Rollin'Stoned says:

    Enjoyed Maxfield’s voice, but I actually cringed when his deer in the headlights face flashed by in the video. I think I might enjoy The Glee Project better than this past season of Glee……..

  5. Leo says:

    I can see Shanna, Aylin, and Michael on Glee. The rest…nah!

  6. T. says:

    I really liked Lea Michele. Oh wait…
    I’m not feeling this season of TGP, maybe it will change when they narrow it to a few contestants, I’ll have a better opportunity to concentrate on their individuality.

  7. Josh says:

    Ryan Murphy is the most pompous d-bag in the world.

  8. Larry says:

    Michael, I think you miss the point of what this show is about. It is supposed to be representing US -the regular folk who have talent and DON’T get the chance to become stars because of a public that looks down on us in some way. It isn’t about who among US is the most talented but instead getting our story told. Personally I would rather the best singer best actor be someone who comes through the real casting process off Broadway or through the studio system. But I have no problem with a role from TGP being awarded to an unknown who would never had been given the chance.

    • E says:

      I think I took Ryan Murphy’s comments to be how the contestants should view it. Face it, the selection process has a lot to do with how Murphy himself gets inspired to write for them. While all ‘talent competitions’ are subjective, this one even more so because there has to be a viable plotline for the actor (from Murphy’s viewpoint). So while they are competing/auditioning for the part, there are a lot of things outside their control. It’s probably better/healthier for the contestants to keep that in mind, rather than how they can outsing/outdance/outact. There’s got to be a semi-authentic narrative.

      I’m not convinced it has to be their exact life experience (because then some should just give up now) but I’m not sure Murphy doesn’t feel that way.

    • Alana says:

      But it’s also a casting process for a job that involves a lot of singing, dancing, and acting. I got a little worried when I heard the talent contest/inspiration contest remark, because if they focus too much on having an inspirational life story at the expense of making sure that they choose a winner who has the skills to successfully portray a role, it will be harmful to Glee in a season when they already will face a lot of difficulties because of graduated characters being scattered around the country. It’s nice to show regular people getting a chance, but among the unknowns, I hope that they pick the most talented one because they need as many good performers in the McKinley choir room as possible.

  9. kcostell says:

    This feels more like a backstory competition than anything else.

  10. dilia says:

    my early favorites are Blake (he looked great/popped in the vid and supposedly can act-and for never having taken a singing lesson he seems to be one of the better male voices), Shanna (because she has an awesome voice) Mario (i love his voice and his confidence but hopefully they dont keep him around longer than deserved just because of his story), and Dani (shes adorable and has star quality)
    looks like theres a lot of interpersonel drama coming. Tyler cant really sing that well and Maxfield was boring and honestly Chord can do country and Damian has a deep voice. He totally disappeared in the video but seems like a nice kid with a nice voice

  11. carol says:

    Huge fan of Mario.

    • Amanda says:

      I am too actually! I’m not trying to fall into the, “Oh, you’ve got a sad story because you’re blind,” way of thinking either, I just genuinely like him. He comes across confident and just really personable and that line about, “Dancing his blind self onto Glee,” had me laughing. I think the fact that he’s blind actually helps him in a way. It kind of helps him focus on his on things, if that makes sense? Other people that stand out so far for me are Shanna and I can’t think of his name but one of the good looking guys, with the shaggy hair. He said he took acting etc. and he had a lot of strange presence I thought in the music video. Definitely dislike Tyler if only because of the constant whining throughout this episode and the nasal sounding voice. I get that he’s transitioning but the voice was really horrible.

  12. sam says:

    I started watching this show last night after I kept missing it the first season, i could not get through the first 15 minutes without losing interest really fast. What is interesting is that I had no idea that the girl who sang the Evita song Buenes Aires was from the glee project and when I saw the episode — I was like who is this girl, she was amazing.

  13. Gavarres says:

    Spoiler:
    Taryn will most likely quit in the next episode..because she is no were in the LMFAO Music video..but she is there during the Home work assignment.

  14. rachel says:

    season 1 was better than season 2. you can see what the producers want because a majority of the contestants have a sob story. i’m not saying they shouldn’t be on the show, they should if they have talent not because of their background.

    • Gavarres says:

      RIGHT!!……I also thnk that the sob storys that the judges are trying to reach..overshadows other talent….
      But I hope some way and some how taryn stays past the next episode,and doesn’t quit .. her voice is just beautiful and shanna..

  15. RS says:

    Hah, hah, hah, he said *what*? This is why I can’t watch this show. I don’t want to get depressed seeing great people go home and later wondering how Glee might have been better “if only they’d chosen ___.” It’s hard enough believing Damian outshone Lindsay.

    • henry says:

      ^^^^ THIS! Huge fan of Lindsay. She had an amazing voice but I think that they chose Damian over her because she can be difficult to work with and maybe some trouble could’ve been stirred, I don’t know. But I love Lindsay… Buenos Aires was off the hook!

    • Sam says:

      Lindsay was my favorite from day 1 and I’m still disappointed that she didn’t win. But I don’t think the decision was based on her being difficult just Ryan already had a story in mind for Damian. Also, Samuel beat Lindsay and he only has one facial expression while singing. But he was chosen b/c he filled the Christian role in Ryan’s mind once Cameron chose to leave.

  16. Kathy says:

    I had a feeling while watching the first episode, Maxfield would be the first to go home. Of course, I thought Ryan Murphy would send him and Tyler home in the first episode! Yes, I see Tyler the next person to leave. Shanna and Mario are the ones I am rooting for!

    • E says:

      I also liked the short haired girl that wasn’t Dani. I liked her voice, it was different than those on Glee. I know the backstory/inspiration is key, but whose to say you can’t have someone in Glee that’s been in a Swing Band since she was 12!

      • Ann says:

        Yeah, I liked that girl’s voice too. Too bad she is on the wrong reality show because I don’t think she has much of a backstory and she’s probably too pretty. Ryan Murphy would hate her. I’m guessing Tyler’s backstory alone gets him into the final 5, even though he stinks, like Alex from last season of Glee Project. Everytime Ryan was about to send him home, Alex would cry and talk about how he was gay. UGH!

        • E says:

          Watching last night and the hyper-focus on not being comfortable in his body after being trapped in this former self, I kept thinking about American Idol and how they encourage some contestants to come back next year. Seems like Tyler’s got lots to deal with and he’d have a much better when he had less to conquer all at one time.

        • DVD says:

          I have to disagree about Alex in terms of talent, watching him on Glee this past season showed he can sing and did an okay job acting (compared to Damian) but I do agree on Alex crying and getting saved (I disliked him last season of Glee Project).

          Tyler can’t sing and should go home soon.

  17. Sam says:

    Blake is the only one with legit acting experience. I saw him on mellisa and joey. He was a decent actor. I think they should have acting challenges too since glee is afterall i tv show.

    • dilia says:

      I saw him to! i knew i recognized him! hes grown out his hair since then…
      but yeah thats why hes one of my favorites so far, because we already have some evidence that he can at least read lines and not just sing (though i actually love his voice as well)

  18. Bee says:

    I thought Tyler and Maxfield both should have been sent home. Tyler, if I’m being blunt, has absolutely no talent. And while Maxfield had an okay voice, I think anyone could admit that he brought nothing special to the table either. I do think Tyler should have gone first, but neither of them would make it far either way, so why not just save time and send them both home? I suppose they have an allotted amount of episodes, which is all well and good, but I wish we could just weed through the weak links right now and get to the juicy part. I really love most of the contestants, and I could see many of them having roles on glee, so I think we’re in for a great season!

  19. Ayla says:

    Tyler was unimpressive and kind of a diva- I thought he should have gone but knew he wouldn’t because of his backstory.

    • Bee says:

      Agreed. Ryan Murphy is one of my favorite people in the world, but I feel like he takes the whole backstory sympathy thing a little too far sometimes.

  20. Anna says:

    I have to say and I feel like I’m the only one who feels this way but I really love Charlie. Someone like that is who I would like to see represented on tv. I think ADHD is a disorder that’s thrown under the table because it not as “serious” and I am in a household with two strong ADHD men. It’s hard. I think delving into that kind of story would bring Glee more depth.

    • Jill says:

      I agree that Charlie is TGE most interesting person to watch and what a talent! My son has ADHD and it helps to see a success story.

  21. Gavarres says:

    Does anyone think Taryn quits, because she was no were in the Party Rock Video…but she was in the home work assignment.

  22. Cate53 says:

    Didn’t get to know that many of them in this episode, but Max really gave nothing. We didn’t see any charisma or talent. There was an interesting comment from Robert (I think) about Ryan wanting someone who looks young, like a freshman. That knocks out quite a lot of them I think! Could have done with a few more African American faces apart from Mario who is great though…

  23. DVD says:

    Am I the only one that doesn’t like Shanna?

    She can’t even compare to the talent Lindsay had from season 1 and frankly she isn’t that pretty.

  24. Ayana says:

    Well that’s kinda mean! Does it matter whether she’s pretty or ugly

    • Katie says:

      No offense but it does matter. Glee is a tv show and ppl rather see attractive ppl than medicore looking girls with crazy eyes. Glee could easily find someone with the same talent as shanna who is prettier and more likable

      • Halo says:

        But that’s what glee is all about, Ryan said so himself that it’s about the underdogs. They don’t have to be the most beautiful or most talented. I happen to think Shanna is amazingly talented and has a beautiful personality, especially oppossed to Lindsey. Sure, Lindsey was talented, but she had an ugly side to her personality AND she said so herself that she was a “fake” person. & who can forget when she started crying in the recording studio after Alex cried. I never cared for Lindsey at all.

  25. al says:

    The only intersting one was Lea Michele. I know Ryan wrote Rachel Berry with Lea in mind and her wrote a part for Chris but really shouldn’t he be able to write roles without knowing the actors first?

  26. Kris says:

    What Ryan said explains so much about why the show is struggling. As a viewer, I would like to watch the most talented cast possible. Inspiration is a wonderful thing, but why would I want to watch someone who can’t sing, act, or dance. That’s not really inspiring. The fact that Ryan is depending on people’s life experiences to write their roles is ridiculous. If he was a good writer, he could create and write a character that would be inspiring no matter what the actor’s background is. Likewise, if they’re good actors, they should be able to convincingly play a character, even if that character is different from them. Finally, watching this show I couldn’t help feel that I was being told there was something wrong with “normal” or “happy”. Like those people who had a good childhood or didn’t have a devastating thing happen in their past are automatically at a disadvantage. I know he preaches acceptance, and that’s wonderful, but is that truly the message he’s sending?

    • Raybelle13 says:

      I totally agree– it’s great to want to have an actor that was an underdog play an underdog (it’s like reverse method), but if you have to use Autotune every time they sing to make the song bearable, it really loses something in translation.
      My prime example– poor Matt Bomer (played Cooper Anderson “Big Brother”), who has such a beautiful voice, was completely shanked by Autotune in his episode. If Alicia Keys ever came on, her gorgeous, semi-off key voice (which is her signature) would be the first thing to go.
      Ryan seems more interested in someone to make his job as a writer easier than showcasing any new or interesting talent, musically-speaking. Pleh

  27. SpeckyGit says:

    Murphy is my favorite part of the show.

    and I very much like the inspiration angle. Kurt was created out of Colfer’s back story . It’s very common for characters to be created out of an actors real life…. 30 Rock, for example.

    I’m not looking for the best musician/dancer on Glee. I’m looking for a young person, maybe of limited talent, working hard and achieving a moment of art – even doing a cover of a song that’s been covered better many other times.

  28. Scout says:

    I love Mario and Dani. I can’t take my eyes of them – they both just glow.

  29. Ella says:

    I don’t really like the cast as much as last year. It just does not feel authentic. Also, why did they just jump into their performance without reflecting on the theme? Individuality seemed to be forgotten 5 minutes after it was mentioned!
    Last year did they lip sink the homework assignment and final performances? The homework assignment Born this Way did not live up at all to Signed, Sealed, Delivered!!

  30. alice says:

    when its the next episode????

  31. alice says:

    when is the next episode????