By Erin Strecker
Updated May 21, 2013 at 07:17 PM EDT
Credit: Eddy Chen/Fox

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: If you’re looking for gritty realism, Glee is not the show for you. I understand that this is a musical comedy set in a high school and not Breaking Bad. But ever since Glee‘s fourth-season finale — which ended with middle-of-the-year Regionals as opposed to the typical ender of springtime Nationals (save for season one) — Glee‘s always funky timeline (remember when Blaine was older than Kurt!?) has gotten to some next level weird, and it’s time someone said something about it.

The first half of this season started off as normally as ever, with the show progressing in approximate real-time, with the new school year kicking off in September, and Thanksgiving happening just a week later than actual Thanksgiving. (We know Thanksgiving happened because of an unforgettable performance of “Turkey Lurkey Time.”) But around Christmas the timeline got crazier than Roz and Sue combined. The winter holidays came and went, but after that, it’s anyone’s guess what month it is.

What Time Is It? Problem #1: When Rachel thought she was pregnant after Will and Emma’s wedding in the February 14 episode “I Do,” viewers saw her flipping a calendar page back and forth between February (when the wedding was) and March (presumably the month she takes the pregnancy test), which points to the show continuing on its typical school-year real-time track.

What Time Is It? Problem #2: In the episode “Sweet Dreams,” which aired April 18, Finn started college, and his campus seemed to exist in a different realm altogether. (How many college students start school in April?)

What Time Is It? Problem #3: In the season finale “All or Nothing,” which aired May 9, Brittany got accepted to MIT, and they wanted her to start immediately. I was confused: Are we supposed to assume Brittany is starting orientation a few weeks early (a.k.a it’s springtime) or that currently it’s a Regionals friendly middle of the year, say January, and she’ll start a semester early?

It’s possible the show is pulling a Degrassi and has decided to slow down the aging of the characters. That’s fine, but by regularly having events like holidays with specific dates, fans see time passing — they just aren’t sure when it’s supposed to count and when it’s not. I’m curious what this means for Glee‘s long (the show was just renewed for two more seasons) future. Here’s how I would course correct for next season:

What Time Is It — Solution 1: I’d enjoy seeing the show come back in the fifth season, and have the first few episodes wrap up the school year, with a Nationals competition and graduation. Critics have said the show has felt repetitive: To counter that, the rest of season five should be all about summer. Glee has never shown much of the summer months (obviously, because the show tends to take place at school), but this could be a great way to branch out – think of the summer tracks they could cover! After Nationals and graduation, have the Glee club decide to continue meeting weekly to practice for next year. Mr. Schuester would show up! He’s not doing anything else!

Meanwhile, progressing at the same time, Rachel can be in Funny Girl rehearsals all summer long, have some issues with another cast member, and consult with Kurt, Santana and a just-arrived Artie. That way all the NYC plot can be contained to just a couple months of time as well. The show could wrap up season five on the last days of summer, and — if the producers are insistent on keeping at least part of the show in Lima — a fresh season six would introduce more new characters and the typical school year plotline of Regionals and Nationals could continue with one final go-round in real-time, after giving viewers a break from it for a season. This would allow the show to slow down a bit, and solve the problem of aging the characters too quickly, something I’m sure is at least partially to blame for season four’s wonky timeline.

What Time Is It — Solution 2: Throughout the year, many of you commenters expressed hope that the show would abandon McKinley completely and turn Glee essentially into its own spinoff about the New York crew. If Glee really was in April or May by season finale time, they could again quickly have graduation and Nationals and by the halfway point next season move Artie, Blaine and Finn to New York. The show could then continue with whatever timeline it felt like, because it would no longer need to balance multiple locations and events. The fear about them getting older would become less problematic, because they’re all already out of high school and ready for new developments. In this universe, obviously Jesse St. James would move to NYC and re-join the show (and Funny Girl). Just think of the Broadway covers!

What do you think: Does the sketchy timeline bother you, or do you adopt an anything-goes mentality with Glee? Do you want to see the show branch out a little bit next year, or do you like the Regionals, Nationals, etc. school-focused show in Lima?

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