Emily, I'm with Hanna : I don’t think we were set up by the Glee finale . I think the feeling of having the rug pulled out, of discovering weird values accidentally sprinkled through otherwise well-meaning material like so much mouse poop in your Frosted Flakes, of having camp go right and also so, so wrong, is the price of doing business with Glee ’s creator, Ryan Murphy. The man who made Nip/Tuck and Popular has a surprising, hilarious, big-hearted, yet scathing, go-there sensibility that is as entertaining as it is inconsistent. No one misses the mark quite like Murphy, but then that’s because most writers wouldn’t try to hit a mark that involved a show choir of deaf kids or a cheerleader with Down syndrome if it was on their foreheads.
In this particular instance, I think the storyline was a little bit lazy but dictated by the necessities of plot. McKinley had to win so they could go on to regionals; Sue has to be angrier than ever to drive the second half of the season; most importantly, the glee club had to perform songs we had never seen them perform before. There was probably a better solution, but this is the sort of outlandish and unnecessary misstep Murphy makes all of the time.
Also, based on your discussion of why you like the show-"A sweet gay character with a great coming-out to his dad, a nice and three-dimensional kid in a wheelchair, a JAP who is actually funny, the fabulously diabolical and mannish Sue Sylvester, and the general multi-culti vibe-on Fox?"-I fear you may have more disappointment in store for you: I think the Glee universe is fundamentally politically incorrect. It has well-developed characters of all colors, but cruelty and a dedication to flouting political correctness (as demonstrated in Sue’s Down syndrome storyline) will always play as much a part as the singing. The show is clear-eyed enough to show us the greatness, sweetness, and humor lurking in the most overachieving, out-of-place, weird, and normal high-schoolers, but that same clear-eyed approach is the same one that won’t shy away from portraying a group of deaf kids and underprivileged black girls as cheaters. Who says they can’t be?