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!