Quitting! Making out! Drama! Bad decisions! The Glee Project is back

The Glee Project‘s second episode–third, if you count the casting special–aired last night, and it found its groove as the competitors freaked out, quit, and made out. It’s one of television’s best competition series for many reasons, but primarily because it manages to be so inventive with such a familiar formula.

The Glee Project is able to balance a competition with real-world consequences with actual emotional connection to its cast members. Like last year, its casting is exceptionally diverse (among them, a transgendered person and a blind contestant), but more importantly, it’s cast with people we mostly like and root for. (Watch on Hulu if you haven’t yet experienced its awesomeness.)

The music video challenges continue to make for good television. As a bonus, their second music video made the lyrics to LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” understandable for the first time ever, though it was “the worst music video shoot of all time” for the series, as Robert Ulrich said.

Also in episode two, one of those contestants quit the show because she couldn’t handle it, another argued back while being critiqued, and two others flirted to the point of jealousy, which led to a make-up make-out session backstage at the music video shoot. It’s like Glee would be if Glee had character development and plot.

I was pretty irritated with last night’s elimination, though. Dani Shay, who was a semi-finalist on America’s Got Talent last year thanks to her hilarious Justin Bieber song, was eliminated. Ryan Murphy seemed to have just concluded that she didn’t fit into the Glee universe because she wasn’t Broadway. While that’s a compliment, it’s also kind of ridiculous and a big duh: They cast her, after all, knowing exactly what kind of person and performer she is. And if anything, she had the potential to learn the things she wasn’t good at (acting, primarily) and surprise us, whereas some of the other contestants are a little one note already. Someday, somewhere, someone will appreciate her.

But this is the world of Glee, where you’re subjected to the irrational whims of creative genius/hack Ryan Murphy. And though it’s frustrating, it’s just another element that makes The Glee Project such great reality.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.