Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Finn Hudson and the Case of the Missing Original Intent: Part Four


I suppose I can’t write pages about how Finn’s original intent has now escaped from our screens without addressing how it manifested itself in the First 13.  If I allow those early episodes to get off scot-free from criticism, I’d better be able to back it up, right?

Well, what makes Finn’s journey through the First 13 successful is the faithfulness to his original intent combined with a compelling backdrop for the character to interact with.  He said yes to Glee, didn’t turn back, and was then put in a position where he had to immediately negotiate this self-discovery with the prospect of becoming a father.  Finn discovered who he was and instantly had to put that to the test by dealing with situations far beyond his maturity level.

It’s true that Finn made some mistakes in the First 13 episodes - he kissed Rachel twice while still dating Quinn, and even took advantage of Rachel’s feelings for him in order to get a scholarship in “The Rhodes Not Taken.”  But I don’t expect a character to be perfect.  I do expect to sympathize with their decisions at the hands of the writers, however.  And these missteps were interesting - and even understandable - in the framework of what Finn was going through.  He was a sixteen-year-old guy in the midst of self-discovery who believed he was about to be a dad.  It’s enough to mess with anyone’s head, and it’s because of this that I can usually forgive Finn for his slip-ups in the early episodes.

What more, Finn’s actions in the First 13 indicated that he was trying.  He was trying so hard to be a good boyfriend to Quinn, and to step up and be a good father.  His intentions were clear, and, to be expected, he experienced a few blunders as well as successes.  That’s fine with me - I don’t care if Finn fails.  I care if he has good intentions and if he tries.  He needs to be earnest and open, because that is embedded in his character.  He may not be the best singer or dancer, but he still gets up on that stage and tries.  The boy sang “I’ll Stand By You” to a damn sonogram, for goodness’ sake.  The true intent of his character is that he tries, earnestly and genuinely, and it absolutely needs to carry over into other areas of his life.

Even though many would define Finn and Quinn’s relationship as unhealthy, it’s hard to dismiss it entirely because at least Finn’s participation in it held true to his character.  He had surrendered himself to the events in his life, and tried his best to keep up with what was being thrown at him.  Unfortunately, his relationship with Rachel has none of the same hallmarks of Finn’s characterization - almost every step of their dynamic this season has been met with resistance.  What happened to the boy who opened himself up to joy?  “Resistance” is not a word we should be using to describe Finn in any way, and it’s unfortunately becoming a defining factor in many of his interactions on the show.

Some would argue that the change we’re witnessing in Finn is a direct result of the devastation of his relationship with Quinn, and in some ways, I would say that they’re right.  His actions in “Hell-O” seem to indicate that Finn has Quinn issues, and they are entirely founded.  Her treatment of him, combined with the colossal lie she told him, can understandably shake his character’s foundation.

On a semi-related note, the same argument could be made for the U-turn in Mr. Schuester’s portrayal on the show - in the wake of his imploded relationship with Terri, he has indulged in some serious asshole behavior.  His character has become impulsive, depressed, and a poor decision-maker who yells at his students - a shadow of what he originally was at the start of the show.  What’s interesting is that the characters of Finn and Will were intended to mirror one another in the First 13, and that they have both generally derailed in the episodes since.  Coincidence?  Maybe, maybe not.  In some ways, each of the characters have derailed since the First 13, but that’s another post for another day.

If, however, the cause for Finn’s (and Will’s) general out-of-character behavior is indeed the aftermath of a disastrous relationship, well, then it needs to be clear.  You can read between the lines all you want, but the fact of the matter is that if we’re supposed to believe this is true, then there needs to be more actual evidence to support it.  The writers need to acknowledge it, and include it in the storylines.  It needs to be a part of the plots, not just in random bits of dialogue ever few episodes or so.

Because, as it is, it just looks like RIB got sloppy in writers the character and what could have been interesting development and a continuation of previous conflicts only appears to be poor characterization and lack of sophistication in progressing a character arc.





  1. How could you say he cheated on Quinn when Quinn slept with Puck before the first episode

  2. Anonymous: Because he did. He and Quinn were still together when he kissed Rachel. Therefore, Finn cheated.

    Yes, Quinn also cheated. But just because Quinn cheated, and cheated first, does not negate Finn's cheating.

    Quinn cheated. Finn cheated. They both cheated.

  3. Exactly, both cheated and when Finn pursued Rachel he still thought he was the father, he very much betrayed Quinn. As viewers we had information the character didn't have at the time, knowing what we knew, his actions weren't as bad at the time. You were just sitting back waiting for the invetable blow to come to Finn.

  4. Anonymous @ 7:20 - Definitely. Thanks for the back-up on that. :)

  5. I really reading your posts about Finn Hudson and I'm looking forward to your conclusions. I'll post something here that I wrote on another Glee board, it pertains to the Finn/Quinn relationship and how Finn's "cheating" relates to it.

    Quinn in the early First 13 episodes of Glee was written as a horrendous shrew, a scheming liar and a terrible girlfriend to Finn. Why? It was because they needed that foil to somehow excuse Finn's falling for Rachel. They had Finn kiss Rachel in the second episode of this new show while he was still going steady with Quinn. (Rachel is not entirely blameless in the whole "Finn cheats on Quinn part" though. You have to remember the context of the whole elaborate picnic in the auditorium, the "When I heard you sing, you touched something in me." and "You can kiss me if you want to." conversation that led up to the kiss.)

    At that time, Finn kissing Rachel did not feel like cheating because the viewers were supposed to root for this couple. The audience didn't angrily throw things at the TV calling Finn out to be a cheater because Quinn was depicted as an unworthy girlfriend who did support Finn. More importantly, the couple that the audience was supposed to root for at that time was not Finn/Quinn but Finn/Rachel. He was kissing the girl who ignited the new sensations in him and makes him reach for new hopes and dreams. (This scene came back to haunt Finn later when the writers had Rachel cheat on him and fans threw this scene back at Finn, calling him a hypocrite. This shows that the writers really don't have a planned long-term arc for their characters.)

    Glee loves its parallels and they also depicted Terri as the worst wife in the universe to absolve Will of emotionally cheating on his wife with Emma. These men were absolved of their behavior because their girlfriend/wife were shown to be such terrible people.

    The writers first wrote the 13 episodes of Glee without having any idea of how long-term this story was going to last. The writers probably didn't figure in the fact that they somehow would revisit Finn and Quinn. If they go through with this storyline, it will only show that these writers are willing to skip over the fact, or they are ignoring the fact, that they've already dug a deep hole with this pair. Frankly, it would be interesting to see how they get out of it. Or if they ever will.

    Speaking from the POV of the showrunners, pairing Cory again with Dianna makes sense in the fact that Dianna is the second female lead among the kids after Lea and popular with the general audience. This show has a large cast and many fans argue that this is a true ensemble, but personally I am of the opinion that there is a clear line between the leads, the second leads and the third tier leads in this cast (I know, very cynical of me and I'm bad). By the same token, if they were to pick another ND boy to hook up with Rachel, it would almost always be Puck not Mike or Artie.

  6. @Anonymous

    I don't remember Finn actually "pursuing" Rachel heavily in the First 13 like he did in the Back 9. I mentioned the context of the first kiss in the above post. I know that was bad of Finn, but it's something that the writers intended to be clearly excused. And Quinn was not pregnant then. No one even knew that storyline would happen. The pregnancy reveal was in Episode #4 Preggers, two episodes later.

    Other than that, I don't really remember any other instance of Finn actively pursuing Rachel to have a relationship with her. Rather it was Rachel who listened to bad advice from Kurt and donned the cat-suit. Finn actually left after that and told Quinn that he went to Rachel's house but "nothing happened." Finn and Rachel were mostly friends after that.

    Finn manipulating Rachel to come back to Gleeclub was based on the advice Emma gave to Finn when he went to her to ask about college applications and scholarships. He wanted something better for himself to better support his baby. She told him he would have a chance to get a scholarship if gleeclub won competitions and Finn figured out they couldn't win without Rachel. Yes, manipulating Rachel's feelings was very bad of Finn, but it did come out of "good" intentions. He was trying to be a more responsible Dad.

    I can't help shaking my head. What complicated convolutions.

  7. Ver - thank you so much! You definitely raise a lot of good points about the original Finn-Quinn-Rachel triangle, and I find that the best way for me to wrap my head around it is just to not play the blame game. I understand each characters' motives and can sympathize with their reasons. That's all I really need, and when I start trying to break down each party's participation it starts to make my head hurt, haha. You're definitely right - very complicated convolutions. Thanks for reading, and the comment!


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