Friday, September 17, 2010

GC#4 of 7: Ryan v. Brad v. Ian

While most TV shows have about a dozen writers on staff, Glee has three: Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan, and Brad Falchuk. They created the show, co-wrote the Pilot and "Showmance," and since have written episodes individually. They really keep it all in the family.

What I've discovered is that this small writing environment makes it very easy to tell who wrote which episode. There are clues. I'll break it down for you.


  • Profile: God of Glee. Does some directing. Looks fierce in a suit.
  • Wrote: Acafellas, Vitamin D, Wheels, Mattress, The Power of Madonna, Laryngitis, Theatricality
  • Dead Giveaways it's an RM ep: Feels like an after-school special, but you don't seem to mind (Wheels, Laryngitis). Ryan's always seem to have a "message," usually about equality. All banner episodes, like Gaga or Madonna, have been RM. The connection between dialogue and theme often comes off a bit on-the-nose (how many times do characters say "confidence" or "guts" in Acafellas?), but the man wields a barbed quip like no other.
  • Specialty: The moments that come to define Glee - snark plus heart plus underdog - are usually straight from Ryan. He's also king of song choices.
  • Choice dialogue: "Who's Josh Groban?! KILL YOURSELF!"
  • Choice scenes: Finn standing up for Kurt in a red shower curtain (Theatricality), Rachel and Sean singing "One" (Laryngitis), Kurt singing "Defying Gravity" (Wheels), Burt kicking Finn out of his house (Theatricality)
  • Best ep: The Power of Madonna


  • Profile: More reserved of the three. Married. Kind of a dreamboat. Also directs.
  • Wrote: Preggers, Throwdown, Ballad, Sectionals, Home, Dream On, Journey
  • Dead Giveaways it's a BF ep: Falchuk specializes in the more serious drama - the trials of Quinn's pregnancy, Artie's dream to dance, Kurt's heartbreak in "Home," the dissolution of the Glee club in "Journey." Generally more subtle than his co-writers - he tends to embed the theme a little better than the other two. Wrote both finales. Doesn't write as many standout wisecracks - only one quote from SHE BLOGGO's Top 15 is from Brad.
  • Specialty: Raw emotional scenes. Slower pace. Scenes sparse in dialogue. Quinn crying.
  • Choice dialogue: "People will tear you down, tell you you shouldn't have bothered in the first place. But let me tell you something: there's not much of a difference between a stadium full of cheering fans and an angry crowd screaming abuse at you. They're both just making a lot of noise. How you take it is up to you. Convince yourself they're cheering for you. You do that, and someday, they will."
  • Choice scenes: the Glee kids sing their support to Quinn (Throwdown, Ballad), Mr. Schue tells Rachel there's a guy who will love her for all her faults (Ballad), Rachel apologizes to Quinn (Sectionals), the Glee kids sing to Mr. Schuester (Journey)
  • Best ep: Sectionals


  • Profile: Self-described Shetland Pony lookalike. Incredibly charming and witty. Goofy and fun.
  • Wrote: The Rhodes Not Taken, Mash-Up, Hairography, Hell-O, Bad Reputation, Funk
  • Dead Giveaways it's an IB ep: The title or theme of the episode will be used no less than 20 times in dialogue. Sue often has a big storyline. Frequent secondhand embarrassment. Things tend to get a bit cracky when IB's at the wheel - there's usually at least one disorienting WTF? moment and characters often act out of what we'd expect of them in order to achieve a desired effect. But the dialogue is almost always sublimely absurd and hilarious - he pens all of Sue's lines.
  • Specialty: Sue Sylvester, period. "Quotable" moments - note that seven of SHE BLOGGO's 15 Funniest Glee quotes are from Brennan eps.
  • Choice dialogue: "That's what they said about a young man in Chicago in 1871, who thought he'd play a harmless prank on a dairy cow of one Mrs. O'Leary. He successfully ignited its flatulence and the city burned, William. And that gay terrorist went on to become the first gay president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln."
  • Choice scenes: Kurt ralphs on Miss Pillsbury (The Rhodes Not Taken), Mr. Schuester tries to have a conversation with the half-deaf Haverford coach (Hairography), Brittany and Santana take Finn on a date (Hell-O).
  • Best ep: The Rhodes Not Taken
I tend to put my faith in Brad Falchuk episodes - he has the best track record with me. I'm a sucker for the dramaz that he does, and I like the way he gives attention to the characters and their interactions. Ian Brennan's episodes always make me wary because they're all over the place and he exhausts the theme. And Ryan's just make me feel like a sap for crying at them. All of them have their merits, though, and without them Glee wouldn't be what it is. Maybe they could just co-write each episode.

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