Let’s be honest. Glee just isn’t as good as it used to be, is it? I’m still tuning in for every episode and this season has certainly had its moments but for the most part, the show has lost a lot of what made it so special in the first place. I think the show could be good again but things would need to change in a pretty major way. Give Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Naya Rivera a proper spin-off and get rid of the New York stuff on the regular show. It’s good stuff. It’s also extremely distracting from the high school stuff – you know, the stuff Glee is supposed to be about. The regular Glee storylines have been good this year but there’s just too much going on with the New York stuff. Focus on one or the other because both just isn’t working.
Even the guest stars – usually a highlight of any Glee season – have suffered as a result of this all of the place story. In the first few season, guest stars really had their chance to shine but this season, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Hudson haven’t really gotten their due. Kate Hudson has been great but with such a limited role, confined to just the New York half of the show, her performances just left me wanting more. Sarah Jessica Parker could’ve been awesome but her storyline felt far too tacked on to be effective. In fact, I wouldn’t even rank her appearance as one of the ten most memorable Glee guest stars which is a shame. Given proper screen time, I think she could’ve been pretty close to the top of the list although, let’s be honest, she would have a lot of competition for that spot. Let’s take a look back over the ten most memorable guest stars in Glee history and see just what that competition would’ve been.
10: Ricky Martin as David Martinez
Song: Sexy and I Know It originally performed by LMFAO
Episode: Season Three Episode Twelve, The Spanish Teacher
Come on – how awesome was this? I wasn’t going to put Mr. Ricky Martin on this list because I’m not positive his overall guest spot was all that memorable – I can’t even remember what his character’s purpose was – but this was definitely a memorable song. Say whatever you want about Ricky Martin but he’s definitely a good looking guy and this song was absolutely perfect for him.
09: Kate Hudson as Cassandra July
Song: Americano/Dance Again (mash up) originally performed by Lady Gaga/Jennifer Lopez
Episode: Season Four Episode One, The New Rachel
Kate Hudson’s guest starring role on Glee kind of irks me. She was fun. She was memorable. She made us love to hate her and she also turned in a few very memorable performances. So why does it irk me? Because she deserved to play a much bigger role, as I mentioned in the intro. Kate’s Cassandra could’ve been every bit as impressive and memorable as Gwyneth Paltrow’s Holly Holiday but she wasn’t given the time to make that happen.
08: Matt Bomer as Cooper Anderson
Song: Hungry Like the Wolf/Rio (mash up) originally performed by Duran Duran
Episode: Season Three Episode Fifteen, Big Brother
I want Matt Bomer to come back again. I want Matt Bomer to come back and I want him to be a regularly featured cast member. His performance with Darren Criss was everything Glee is about. It was fun, it was memorable and it drove the story. It also has a message – even a guy like Blaine Anderson with all his talent and confidence can feel marginalized and shoved into the background. I loved the way all this played out. I hope they decide to bring him back again, even just so we can have one more Matt/Darren duet although I would not be at all against the idea of a good Matt solo.
07: Charice as Sunshine Corazon
Song: Telephone originally performed by Lady Gaga and Beyoncé
Episode: Season Two Episode One, Audition
The little girl with the big talent, Charice was one of the most memorable guest stars Glee has ever had, stealing the show every time she took the stage. I chose to include the Sunshine/Rachel Telephone showdown because I just love how these two big voiced divas rocked this tune. It was also one of the first times we really got to see the darker side of Rachel Berry and I liked seeing that. Rachel always came across as a girl who knew she was more talented than everyone else and this whole story line really showed us that perhaps she wasn’t as secure in that as she often made it appear.
06: John Stamos as Dr. Carl Howell
Song: Whatever Happened to Saturday Night (Hot Patootie) from the motion picture The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Episode: Season Two Episode Five, The Rocky Horror Glee Show
I really, really like John Stamos. I always have. I thought he was gorgeous when I was a kid watching Full House and I thought he was gorgeous as a full grown woman watching Glee. We didn’t often get the chance to see Dr. Carl sing so it was a refreshing change to see him show us what he could do. Of course, the fact that his first real vocal performance on the show came during The Rocky Horror Glee Show (by far my favorite Glee theme night, just ahead of Rumors) was just an added bonus.
05: Jonathan Groff as Jesse St. James
Song: Bohemian Rhapsody originally performed by Queen
Episode: Season One Episode 22, Journey to Regionals
I wanted to rank Jonathan Groff higher on this list because, in my humble opinion, Jonathan is one of the most talented guest stars Glee has ever brought on the show but I also think his last few episodes were a little … lacking. It wasn’t Jonathan’s fault at all, of course. I just don’t think the writers really knew what to do with him. Fans wanted him to come back and it seems like that’s the only reason he came back. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if they didn’t just throw him into random episodes when his schedule permitted. I’d love to see him come back again but only if he gets a decent storyline.
04: Neil Patrick Harris as Bryan Ryan
Song: Dream On originally performed by Aerosmith
Episode: Season One Episode Nineteen, Dream On
We’d already seen Kristen Chenoweth blow it out of the water with her guest starring role as April Rhodes (we’ll talk about her in a moment) but Neil Patrick Harris’ duet with Matthew Morrison to one of my all time favorite songs was the first performance by a guest star that really blew my mind. It wasn’t just a killer performance though. This was a great example of how perfectly a song can tie into the theme of a show, something I sometimes feel Glee has gotten away from in later seasons but was part of the appeal so much in the beginning. I miss these kinds of performances. I still listen to Neil and Matthew’s take on Dream On on a regular basis.
03: Kristin Chenoweth as April Rhodes
Song: Alone originally performed by Heart
Episode: Season One Episode Five, The Rhodes Not Taken
Bring back April Rhodes! No really, Glee – bring her back. Now. I adore Kristin Chenoweth in ways I can’t describe and I love the spark she brings to the screen every time she’s in front of a camera. Her voice is incredible, of course, but it’s about more than her voice. There’s just something so magnetic about her. The great thing about April is that there are a million ways to bring her back without making it feel like she’s just being brought back for the heck of it. Rachel and Kurt are in New York. Couldn’t they theoretically bump into her there? Bringing Kristen back would get me excited about tuning in again.
02: Idina Menzel as Shelby Corcoran (Rachel’s Mom) *TIE*
Song: I Dreamed a Dream from Boublil and Schonberg’s Les Miserables
Episode: Season One Episode Nineteen, Dream On
It was hard to choose a notable performance from Idina Menzel. Her voice is exceptional and her duets with Lea Michele were just out of this world but I had to go with my personal favorite on this one. As was the case with Neil Patrick Harris’ performance from the same episode, I and Lea’s performance of I Dreamed a Dream fit perfectly with the theme of the episode and offered a truly moving moment. I have only two complaints about I’s guest spot on Glee: one, we didn’t get to hear her sing nearly often enough and two, her entire storyline was dropped so abruptly it was hard to imagine the writers gave it much thought at all.
02: Carol Burnett as Doris Sylvester (Sue’s Mom) *TIE*
Song: Ohio from Wonderful Town
Episode: Season Two Episode Eight, Furt
How could you not love Carol Burnett showing up as Sue Sylverster’s Nazi hunting mother? Everything about this guest spot was great. First, a better actress could not have been chosen for Sue’s mother. Second, the song was fantastic. More than the perfect casting and the great song, the role actually had a purpose. It was so interesting to get a glimpse at how Sue became who she is. We’d already gotten a few glimpses of depth in Sue’s character but this was something new entirely. It doesn’t hurt that both actresses gave absolutely flawless performances either.
01: Gwyneth Paltrow as Holly Holiday
Song: Forget You originally performed by Cee-Lo Green
Episode: Season Two Episode Seven, The Substitute
I had to put Gwyneth Paltrow as number one. I really did. In my always humble opinion, Gwyneth Paltrow as Holly Holiday was not just one of the most memorable guest performances on Glee but was also one of the most memorable guest performances on any show ever. This isn’t the kind of role one expects from Gwyneth Paltrow and that was part of why it worked. I’ve always thought of Gwyneth as one of the most talented actresses of her generation but was never a big fan of her as a celebrity. She always came across as so cold and humorless. Her guest spot on Glee not only impressed and entertained me, it made me reconsider how I felt about her overall – certainly one of the most memorable guest performances Glee has ever seen.