Q&A: Ian Brennan chats 'Glee'!Monday, April 04, 2011
Are you pleased with how the second season has gone so far?
"Yeah. It's been a lot of work as ever, because there's just three of us writing the entire season. It's always a little overwhelming, but totally fantastic. I really like how this season is wrapping up. We've got just a couple more to write and then we'll be done for now, but yeah, it's been really great."
You've got such a big cast now - is juggling all the characters challenging?
"Yeah, actually. There are usually three or four, sometimes five, characters an episode that we have to focus on, so the show actually comes in and out of focus with different characters at different times. A lot of times we'll take a couple of episodes off from Rachel and Finn or from Sam or whatever, but we always kind of come back to it. It's actually a really refreshing aspect of the show that you can put storylines aside for a little bit and focus on other things and then come back to them."
Some fans have been saying that there's not been enough Tina this season, for example.
"Yeah - we literally hear that about every character! We have 15 of them. Like, I swear we're going to get to it. It's literally trying to juggle all those characters but they're all so beloved and they're all so interesting for us to write for so we try not to play favorites. We just try to get back to stuff when we can and when it seems right. So yes, there'll be more of Tina, more of Mercedes, more of everybody ultimately."
What can you tell us about Finn and Rachel's relationship at the moment?
"Finn and Rachel are sort of at a crossroads, I think. In a way, that relationship feels a lot like how my second year of high school felt. That sophomore year where the bloom has come off the rose and you realize everything's a little bit harder and a little bit more frustrating and a little bit more fraught. That's sort of how that relationship has felt for me."
Will we be seeing more of the Kurt and Karofsky storyline?
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. In the last five or six episodes it comes back to the fore."
Can you give us any hints about what we can expect?
Have you found that storyline difficult to write - to do it justice?
"I wouldn't say that, it doesn't feel that way. This whole second season, in a way, that character of Kurt has stepped to the fore, and we didn't really intend that. It feels like it just sort of clicked. It's more that we want to do justice to that storyline that we've been doing the entire season. It's more just for our story rather than any broader thinking about bigotry or the things that have been said over and over again. I don't know if we have much to add to that. But I'm more interested in making the storyline come round to a satisfying conclusion and I think it will."
There are a lot of fans of Brittany and Santana - how will their relationship develop?
"We'll see. I think we're setting up what I think is a really interesting dynamic of sexual identity and sexual fluidity. Partly, in a pair, those characters are so much fun to write for. It's just a blast to do. So playing against what has sort of been a comedy pairing - really giving that much more, just grounding that a little bit more - I think should be really satisfying."
There were reports recently that the upcoming 'Born This Way' episode will be 90 minutes long - is that true?
"Yeah, I think that's going to be the case which is going to be great. We're always desperately cutting down our episodes. Even when we write them, and then in the editing room we're always throwing away stuff that I really love to get it down to time. It will be actually really interesting to have that extra whatever it will be - 24 minutes - added on. It will be just really interesting content-wise for us. That episode's going to be fantastic."
What can you tell us about that episode? Why is it so long?
"I think there were a couple of numbers that we had to cut for length but are going to be good. I just think the story's going to be very 'on'. It's going to be a really Glee episode of Glee and the music, that song, is just going to fit in really well, I think. I think it will be one of those episodes that cracks away - sometimes the show can really do that, where you just feel like it's really cracking and funny and smart. I think that ['Born This Way'] will be one of those episodes."
You write Sue, who has become such an iconic character. Where do you get your inspiration?
"Oh, you just take out the filter! You just say all the things you wish you could say to people in positions of authority. I think there's a little Sue in all of us - we just all get used to not saying it. That's what's great about the character, because she really, really, really will say anything."
Is it ever a struggle to find new ways to insult Will's hair, for instance?
"Sometimes! I actually thought a couple of weeks ago, 'I wonder if I've run out?' And then actually it was yesterday I figured out a whole new way to make fun of his hair, so I'm like, 'Oh, that's great'. But that's sort of what happens with Sue. It's such a fun character to write. She has so many nuances and there's just no place she won't go to make fun of someone, which is great. It really opens you up. And Jane [Lynch] is such a genius. She could make the phonebook hilarious. She makes my job very easy."
Do you prefer writing the funny moments or the emotional scenes?
"Both. That's what's great about the show and that was such a surprise. As the show grew and developed I was actually surprised about how well those two things go together. I think early on I thought of this show as much more of a 'comedy' comedy, and then you realize, no, it's a really different sort of weird little animal where those things sit right next to each other. You can have scenes that are very funny and biting that butt up right against - sometimes literally in the same scene - [moments that] can then be very emotional and very sweet. I think that was a surprise for all of us. We didn't expect for that to be what the show would feel like. And then you add music to it and it's just... I personally think that's why people have responded to it in such a big way. It feels different than it usually does to sit down and watch television. It's a different kind of experience and it is just more emotional. The show has a big heart as well as a big mouth!"
There have been original songs in the show this season - are you planning to include more of those?
"I think so, yeah. To me the joy of the show is always that endorphin rush of music that you've heard and reinvented, or music that you haven't heard in a while from our collective rock and roll memory. I was really surprised at how much fun that was, to write those songs and to work on them and have them in, so I'd be shocked if we didn't do more of those."
Do you feel under pressure to do what the fans want? They're so involved in the show.
"I try to do as little reading [as possible] about the show, whether it be fan input or criticism or whatever. There's such a lot of material to get out that I usually find that can be sometimes a little overwhelming. That said, you generally get a sense of stuff - you get a feel of what people like and what people don't like. You get an aggregated opinion of what people are thinking. I guess the key is to let it influence what you do but don't let it control what you do. To be honest, I don't think you should really write to what the fans are asking for. I think you listen and then you sit aside and then you think, 'OK, this is what we're going to do'. I think a lot of times that's when you get really exciting stuff. And then stuff is unexpected to fans, rather than just like, 'Well, we wanted this and then it happened'. That's our job, to come up with stuff that will surprise you. I think we're pretty good about doing that. There is so much volume that you do when you're doing 22 episodes of television - it's a lot, so some of the stuff you do is going to work better than others. It's a credit to how well the show has clicked with people that people have opinions. I'm always shocked at the depth with which people attach themselves to the show. So it's all a good thing."
Finally, what one thing can you tease for the rest of the season?
"Geez... I don't know if I have anything! Yeah, that's going to have to be a question mark - sorry!"
For the spoiler-averse, he confirms that "Born This Way" will be an extended episode in this interview.