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EMMYS: Q&A With Brad Falchuk Of 'Glee'

Brad Falchuk had quite a summer. While working on two shows at once as the co-creator of Glee and FX’s forthcoming American Horror Story, he found himself recently disputing reports of Glee stars Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, and Cory Monteith leaving the series after Season 3. Despite the fan backlash and gripes online about the quality of its sophomore season, Glee still snared a dozen Primetime Emmy nominations, including for Outstanding Comedy Series. Falchuk spoke with Deadline TV Contributor Ray Richmond:

DEADLINE: Glee has been whacked hard on the Internet. What do you think fueled the backlash?
BRAD FALCHUK: I have to say it really just goes with the territory. What I can tell you is that we worked 7 days a week all season. We just worked our asses off. And I’m really proud of what we did. I make no apologies for it. When you have three creators who are so directly involved with every story and every word as Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan, and I were, what you wind up with onscreen is going to be different each year depending on where we are creatively. So it was what it was, and we’re all very proud of it. When you’re on top like we were from the start, you make yourselves a very big target. But in terms of the storytelling, how the episodes played out, the talent, the choreography, I make no apologies for it.

DEADLINE: Did you hang around chatrooms gauging the feedback from the fans and the critics?
FALCHUK: The only feedback I read was on Twitter, and that felt mixed. I don’t read blogs or go to chatrooms, because that’s just asking for it. I’m a big baseball fan, and I liken this to being involved in a ballgame. If I’m a manager who won a lot of games and I get a lot of crap for taking out a pitcher who’s won a lot of games, and then my reliever implodes, I realize I’m going to hear a lot of flak. But going into the chatroom reading how awful I am as a manager isn’t going to help me. It’s the same in this situation with my show. So I try to avoid it.

DEADLINE: Does any of that Twitter feedback help you in any way?
FALCHUK: Well, we’ve never actually used anything we’ve seen there to generate an actual storyline. But it’s helped us to figure out directions for characters to go in. In a way, none of us ever leave the high school mind-set. And at the same time, everything that happens in high school is exaggerated. Every romance is Romeo and Juliet. And even the slightest shunning feels like you’ve been booted out of town. So I think it’s those feelings we hit on that have resonated and felt somehow real to fans. Somehow we’ve been able with Glee to cut the noise and touch people. We’ve not only entertained people but made a big effort to have them feel something.

DEADLINE: What are you doing differently in Season 3 to cut down on the negative fan reaction?
FALCHUK: Not really all that much, honestly. It’s hard to look back and say that creatively we should have made this choice or that choice. You always want more time. Maybe a few weeks extra here and there would have made a difference. But I truly believe that the season coming up is going to be our best, in that we’re figuring out how best to do this show better all the time. But our mandate is still to be great with every episode, and having the incredibly talented people around us that we do has helped a lot.

DEADLINE: Jane Lynch is hosting the Emmys. And Glee has another 12 nominations, including for Outstanding Comedy Series.
FALCHUK: Poor Jane. We give the woman pages and pages of monologues to learn with little time. She comes in, nails it, is hilarious, and never complains. She’s a superstar. Emmys are a wonderful honor. We don’t expect this stuff, so hopefully we’ll never take it for granted. It’s a tribute to how hard everyone works on this show, including our crew, who are so incredibly good with our makeup and costumes.

DEADLINE: Now you’re working on two hourlong shows at once with American Horror Story.
FALCHUK: We’re writing both shows. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to have to switch gears so dramatically day after day. But we also did Glee and Nip/Tuck at the same time for a while, too. What’s interesting is the shift between Glee and Horror Story isn’t that radical in terms of the part of the brain we use. At the end of the day, it’s all just storytelling and making choices.

  1. Having done it, 2 shows is VERY hard. You always feel like you are in the wrong place & should be working on the other show. Good luck. I bet you are all looking forward to Labor Day weekend, no shooting!!

  2. I suppose not apologising for the storytelling in Season 2 makes sense.

    Considering it HAD no particular storytelling to it then there’s indeed nothing to apologise for.

      1. so basically if you don’t make something 100% yourself your not allowed to comment/criticize it?
        He’s only repeating what actual critics have already commented on

  3. Well, I guess he’ll never read this, but not caring about fan reaction or even storytelling will catch up with his ass eventually. I’m thinking sooner rather than later. Glee WAS great, but Season 2, the 3D movie and the Project have shown that it is NOT invincible.

  4. I loved season 2. I have very few complaints about it, Darren Criss completely made the season for me. Hope to see a lot more of him!

    1. I actually thought the Warblers sub-plot really invigorated the season for me. They were what I wanted New Directions to be about. When the Warblers left there were some nice moments in certain episodes but none of the numbers or plot points hit like earlier episodes (not that the Warblers really were the plot-driven group, but at least their random musical numbers were fun).

      Falchuk has actually written some of my favorite episodes in show history, in my opinion. Murphy is a better director and image-driven person for the show and Brennan can write one hilarious episode but not really up to task in plot or otherwise. Falchuk’s episode were the better character-driven episodes that actually showcase acting chops for much of the regular cast and supporting players that really disappeared by the spring ‘break’ time. Sure, I cannot remember one musical number specifically from his written episodes, except of course the pilot, but I do remember them being well-written and well-acted.

      1. How were the Warblers the “plot-driven” group? They didn’t have a plot. They only served as back up for Kurt’s storyline.

  5. One of the big problems is overkill. Fox practically has these kids going door to door to sell CDs and concert tickets and product, product, product. Dial it down!

  6. They just need to trim the repetition. It seemed like every episode consisted of the Glee kids competing for the lead role in some performance and bad feelings ensued, only to be wrapped up by episode end.

    1. Um… you are aware of the premise of the show, correct?

      It’s not like the drama can come from the Glee Kids attempting to fight piracy off the Somali coast by using catchy Broadway showtunes.

      (Though I would pay GOOD money to watch them try!)

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