Glee: Keep It Or Dump It

Glee began as the story of a high school teacher and the six kids who helped him revive a struggling glee club, but the show got more popular, the cast expanded to the point where it now resembles a Russian novel. Episodes now routinely spend much of their time with other staff members and even with a rival school – and this is leaving aside the parade of big name Glee guest stars.

Because the show’s setting, the possibility exists that some of the cast members who play students (most of whom are already well into their twenties) will be rotated out eventually. But just in case the producers lose their nerve, we’ll be helping them out with this edition of Keep It or Dump It, focusing on the folks in the Glee cast who are less than indispensable. That means we’ll be sparing from scrutiny  New Directions leader Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), the club’s primary vocalist Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), the now exiled Kurt (Chris Colfer), and antagonist extraordinaire Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch).

Mercedes (Amber Riley): Riley’s terrific singing voice is often an afterthought, owing to the need to cater to Rachel’s (and Michele’s) star power. Even though she has had less to do this season, she adds too much to the musical mix to be expendable. Verdict: Keep It.

Finn (Cory Monteith): The show has failed to make people believe that he and Rachel are a great romantic lead couple, and I find his singing voice to be ultra-bland. Besides, he’s flirting with Ian Ziering Syndrome, as he turns 29 next month. Finn is too important to the show to be dumped just yet, but the producers should be thinking of ways to transition him out by this time next year. Verdict: Keep It.

Puck (Mark Salling): Salling is among those who really looks too old to be playing a high schooler (he’s 28), so even though he’s one of the better comic actors in the cast, it’s hard to see how he can stick around much longer. How about replacing him with someone from the little-seen but apparently badass hockey team? Verdict: Dump It.

Artie (Kevin McHale): The rapping – really, any attempts to sound soulful while singing – needs to stop. Now. Aside from that, Artie is a good character and a solid supporting player. One benefit of trimming the cast would be the opportunity to give him more of the spotlight, as he’s another one who has spent too much of this season with nothing to do. Verdict: Keep It.

Brittany (Heather Morris): The best genius idea the Glee folks ever had was elevating Morris from choreographer-extra to cast member, as Brittany’s deadpan loopiness is one of the show’s biggest pleasures. They need to be careful not to overdo it, let alone ask Morris to do a lot of actual acting, but she’s too critical as comic relief for anyone to even think about dumping her. Besides, she’s clearly too dumb to ever graduate, so it won’t matter if she eventually starts to look her age. Verdict: Keep it.

Santana (Naya Rivera): She was promoted out of glorified extra status along with Brittany, but aside from being the one Cheerio who can be still be counted on to act the bitch, Santana’s role isn’t terribly crucial. If her romance with Brittany isn’t going anywhere, she’s expendable. Verdict: Dump It.

Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz): Of the six core members of New Directions dating back to the pilot, Tina is the only one who has never had a key storyline, and she carries less of a singing load than virtually all of them. If the writers have plans for this character, they’re taking their sweet time in making them known. If the show decides to send some of their characters off to college, Tina is among those most likely to be disappeared. Verdict: Dump It.

Sam (Chord Overstreet):  I didn’t find anything about his romance with Quinn to be believable – blame the hair. And he’s even more laughable as a high school quarterback. Sam appeared to be brought on board to be a more clean-cut foil for Finn, and I’m not sure that Glee needs both characters. We’ll give him a little more time. Verdict: Keep It.

Blaine (Darren Criss): Here’s where I part company with, I’m guessing, 99% of this show’s fans. Blaine has been a spectacularly popular addition to the cast, and songs featuring him on lead vocal have been among the best sellers Glee has had. But at what long term cost? The decision to expand the Glee universe into a second school to accommodate Kurt’s bullying-related departure is the single biggest reason the show seems so overstuffed today. If we’re going to make cuts, a person who hardly ever interacts with the majority of the cast would seem to be a good place to start. Verdict: Dump It.

Lauren (Ashley Fink): She’s still new to the show, so there are storylines yet to explore. Besides, her blasé attitude towards the club makes her something of a spokeswoman for more skeptical viewers. We’ll trust the producer have more in mind for her than simply being serenaded with “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Verdict: Keep It.

Quinn (Dianna Agron): One of the better actors on the show and a half-decent singer, the gorgeous Agron is also key to appeasing the show’s straight male fanbase – granted, we’re not talking about all that many people. Glee should probably decide once and for all if she’s a cheerleader or not, but either way she’s a keeper. Verdict: Keep It.

Emma (Jayma Mays): Mays is an extremely likable actress, but now that the “Will they or won’t they?” with her and Will has been resolved in favor of her marriage to the dentist, her character has been pretty useless. That’s the problem with abandoned storylines: If an actor really only had that one reason to be on the show, why draw things out? Verdict: Dump It.

Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig): She was always the least popular character in the first season of Glee, owing largely to the ludicrous fake-pregnancy storyline, and disbelief that someone like her would ever marry Will to begin with. She’s still listed in the credits, but that seems a formality more than anything else. She’s not married to Will anymore, and there’s no reason to keep involving her, even on a limited basis. Verdict: Dump It.

Coach Beiste (Dot Jones): I had few expectations the new football coach would amount to much more than a bad joke, but Jones has made her one of the most well-rounded characters on the show in a short period of time. This is one non-student who justifies the amount of time spent with her. Verdict: Keep It.