If watching "Glee" this season has felt exhausting at times, we can only imagine what the run has been like for the creators and cast who are clearly dancing – and singing – as fast as they can.
With the second season coming to a climatic close Tuesday, it's fair to say that even if the Fox show hasn't quite beaten the sophomore jinx, there's been enough razzle-dazzle to distract us from weaker moments and outright misfires.
This season’s installments of "Glee," much like high school, have proven a series of wild ups and downs – all breathlessly imbued with more import than they probably deserve. But even when we were confused or annoyed, we were never bored.
So will this be remembered as the season in which the anti-gay bullying storyline elevated the show to serious social drama or the season of the disappointing "Rocky Horror" tribute disaster? The season of the brilliant "Grilled Cheesus" meditation on spirituality or the off-putting "Grinch" homage Christmas special?
The many high notes have barely outpaced notes more odd than sour. Will Schuester giving Coach Bieste her first kiss came across as weird and patronizing rather than the sweet moment it was intended to be. Ditto for wheelchair-user Artie's Christmas morning "walk."
The various romantic pairing and breakups – you need a scorecard to follow along – seemed overwrought and forced at times, even by hormonally charged high school standards (enough Finn and Quinn, already). We're still processing other unexpected scenes and plotlines, such as Sue Sylvester's inability to deal with her sister's death and Kurt's near-prom dance with his closeted former tormentor.
But in a program where acceptance is a recurring theme, we’ve learned to embrace "Glee" for what it is: a nothing-like-it show that exists on an often-manic plane of heightened reality with occasional swings down to earth (anytime Kurt's father makes a welcome appearance, we know we're in for a dose of reality. Kurt's warm rendition of "I Want to Hold Your Hand," sung by his stricken father's bedside proved a season highlight).
We've stayed interested enough to stick around through the stranger moments (like, say, the Britney Spears hallucinations episode). And if some of the characters threaten to become human cartoons at times, we’re still invested enough to follow New Directions to New York Tuesday for McKinley High's chance at a national championship – and quite possibly choirmaster Will Schuester's shot at Broadway stardom.
If the glee clubbers from Ohio think they life back home is frantic enough, wait until they get to New York, where dreams are made and broken with every note – the perfect place to cap a wild ride of a season.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.