Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff) is the male lead of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline. He and Rachel meet while she is looking through sheet music at the library, and he introduces himself and mentions that he is a senior and has a full ride to UCLA. After... (more)
Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff) is the male lead of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline. He and Rachel meet while she is looking through sheet music at the library, and he introduces himself and mentions that he is a senior and has a full ride to UCLA. Afterwards, they begin a "Romeo and Juliet" romance, which doesn't sit well with New Directions, as they believe Jesse is just using Rachel to spy on them. After silencing Rachel's anxieties with an impromptu meeting and kiss on the Vocal Adrenaline stage—with the director of Vocal Adrenaline Shelby Corcoran (Idina Menzel) looking on, unbeknownst to Rachel—Jesse and Rachel agree to date in secret. In "Power of Madonna" he tells Rachel that they should have sex and she is unsure of how to respond. Later on the episode, she tells him she is ready and they plan to have sex but it is later revealed that Rachel could not go through with it. He also moves in with his uncle, who lives within McKinley's district area, and leaves his high school to attend McKinley High. He is suspicious of Rachel and Finn's relationship, making it clear that he will not let Finn hit on his girlfriend. Finn tells him that he will stay away from Rachel. In "Dream On" we learn that Jesse transferred to McKinley High not to become a spy, but to reveal to Rachel that Vocal Adrenaline coach Shelby is her biological mother. Though he does admit that he has developed feelings for Rachel, Shelby insists that once Rachel has sought her out he will return to Vocal Adrenaline. In "Funk", we notice that Jesse is back with Vocal Adrenaline.
In a controversial essay for Newsweek, critic Ramin Satoodeh wrote that Groff, who is openly gay, was unconvincing as the straight Jesse ("he seems more like your average theater queen, a better romantic match for Kurt than Rachel"). Groff's performance was defended by Glee creator Ryan Murphy and guest star Kristin Chenoweth, both of whom described Satoodeh's essay as homophobic; it was also condemned by GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios. (less)