Get your coffee and settle in, because this isn’t going to be short. Usually my notes for an episode are between 10 and 15 bullet points, but my notes were two complete pages for this insulting, condescending, poorly constructed, steaming pile of crap. I’m confident in saying that this is Glee’s version of “Jack and Bai Ling’s Tattoo Time,” even without going back to watch old episodes (which would at least expose me to some the episodes that gave this show what used to be a good reputation for fun performances, quirky characters and boundary-pushing plots).
My criticisms started out lighthearted enough. I noted that Chord Overstreet is WAY better looking than Macaulay Culkin and wondered if Quinn doesn’t know better than to go to Sue for advice – I mean, the last time we saw these two characters interact, Quinn was essentially blackmailing Sue to let her back into the Cheerios and make her captain. Little did I know, things were about to get much, much worse.
I raised my eyebrow at the steel drums that conveniently appeared during Puck and Artie’s spontaneous lunchtime performance, but I was willing to give the performance a chance to overcome the absurdity. It didn’t. That scene was completely without set-up or justification, and ultimately, it didn’t even serve a purpose in the plot. If Puck had some grand plan for the money, fine. But he didn’t – and even after he got the money and developed the plan to take out the girls, he had no intention of paying, so why did he want the money?
I swear it’s like every week, the writers spin a wheel and decide which former enemies will team up this week – will it be Brittany and Artie? Artie and Puck? Mercedes and Santana? Each week it’s someone new, and it would be believable if they didn’t all claim to hate one another, or if some vestige of the former friendship of convenience was acknowledged somewhere down the road. But no – it’s just a transparent plot contrivance to create a new superficial conflict each week. I get that we can’t keep going back to the Will vs. Sue well again and again because admittedly, that started to get stale in season one. But c’mon, there IS potential. Sunshine Corazon? WTF happened to her? Coach Beiste (more on her later) was set up as this slightly offbeat but nonetheless capable rival to Sue. Coach Beiste was supposed to be a force to be reckoned with. But like this show, her character to this point has been nothing but wasted potential.
I mean, seriously. This episode was bad – really bad, like, I-don’t-remember-why-I-watch-this-show-and-I-don’t-know-if-I-want-to-watch-it-again-bad. I haven’t felt this way about a show since Heroes. Getting a spot on my DVR series recording is as close as I get to marriage – it’s a serious commitment, and I don’t take the decision to remove lightly at all. But consider this a trial separation, Glee. Sue said that she’d have to go straight to the wound care center to get the image of Beiste in flagrante out of her mind. Well, I’m going to have to go watch a couple episodes of Two and a Half Men and According to Jim to cleanse my TV palate of this episode. This is what you’ve done to me, Glee.
Let’s move on. Kurt goes to spy at the all boys’ school, where an impromptu concert with the Glee club rock stars has brought all the kids a runnin’. Horseshit. Hey Ryan Murphy – if we’re going to go for a semi-serious storyline about acceptance of homosexuality in high s chool, then try to get the plausibility factor somewhere south of dozens of high school guys come together to sing, sway, dance, snap and fist pump their way through a song that I’ve never actually heard but can still unhesitatingly call teeny bop, bubble gum, top 40 tripe. Nothing against top 40 pop – it’s Glee’s bread and butter – but if there was to be any semblance of reality in that room, and if we’re to take Kurt’s struggle seriously, then do not torpedo all authenticity and credibility with that performance because all I could think was “this is so gay.” And even Kurt thought so – next scene at Dalton, he asked if all three of the guys he was meeting with were gay. I’m not a gay man, and fortunately, I never had to deal with what I have no doubt is a traumatizing struggle, so I recognize that this comes from a place of ignorance, but if you want to make a dramatic and serious situation land with the audience, you can’t have it play in the most unrealistic and stereotypical surroundings possible.
Next scene. In the span of thirty seconds, Mike Chang tells Tina about how Sam uses Beiste to help him “cool down.” Tina suggests they get a room to… test that theory? As they’re making out, Mike suggests they cool down. Tina thinks about Beiste and lets her name slip, just like Sam did with Quinn earlier in the episode. And Mike acts completely bewildered. He has no idea where that came from, and omg, he’d better keep his eye on Beiste because clearly she’s after Tina? WTF? It doesn’t even make any sense, people!
Let’s go macro for a minute. What does this show have against plot development? It’s like they dive in to the deep end of every storyline with little to no build-up or establishing scenes. And heaven forbid they should have any story arcs that run through several episodes (the Artie and Brittany thing is just the exception that proves the rule – whatever the hell that means). It’s like every episode they throw a bunch of characters, a bunch of storylines and a bunch of songs in three buckets, and they pull one out of each bucket until they have enough to fill 44 minutes. Slap a shaky structure around it and hot damn, you’ve got a Glee episode. I’m beginning to think Family Guy isn’t the only show written by manatees.
Kurt. A+ performance for Chris Colfer, as usual, but I’m done with the character’s self-righteous emo bullshit. Newsflash, Kurt – what you’re experiencing at the hands of the bully is not just harassment – it’s assault. You can’t bitch about how your school has a permissive culture toward harassment of homosexuals when you let yourself be physically assaulted every day and don’t tell anyone about it. I actually felt sad for Kurt – he clearly and genuinely belongs at a place like Dalton Academy – not just because it has a zero tolerance harassment policy (your school does, too, Kurt – especially when it’s assault and you report it) but also in terms of culture and sophistication. The writers created a chemistry there – or as much chemistry as a location or environment and a character can have, and they only have two ways out now. One, Kurt can leave McKinley and go to Dalton or two, he can spend more time at Dalton and find out that it’s not so perfect after all and he really belongs with the Glee kids at McKinley. If they just let it go, which they will, because they suck, the writers will have nipped another good, organic storyline in the bud.
Alright, more on Beiste, as promised. Does anyone else feel bait and switched with her character? The writers set her up to be the Sue Sylvester to Sue Sylvester, shaking things up and making a stir at William McKinley High School, and instead she’s just another one of the moody, bratty kids. There is not a doubt in my mind that a woman who looks like that (and let’s not beat around the bush – she’s an unattractive woman; it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened to anyone, and by refusing to acknowledge it, we’re just putting more of a taboo on it. Not everyone gets to be attractive. If you’re not, you find other ways to stand out and be accepted – Steve Buscemi is a movie star for God’s sake.) and is a high school football coach has faced adversity before because of her role in a male-dominated job, has faced teasing before because of her looks and has faced being the target of teenagers (pretty mild, all things considered) cruel insensitivity before. So stop trying to make me think that these are extraordinary circumstances – they’re not, and she needs to get the f over it. It’s one thing for the high school students to act like insufferable, immature kids. It’s another thing for the adults to do the same.
Whew – let’s try some positivity for a second. I enjoyed Puck’s manipulation of Brittany and Santana, and I especially loved Brittany rubbing Artie’s leg at dinner and then asking innocently why he hadn’t responded. But then I got pissed off again when I realized Puck never had any intention of using the money anyway and that whole scene was a pointless meandering excuse to plug in a song and celebrate Puck’s return as the bad boy.
Speaking of being bad… in a good way, Sue’s triumphant laugh through the confetti cannons was, no question, the best part of the episode.
Speaking of being bad… in a bad way, the Start Me Up/Livin’ on a Prayer mashup was just… clunky. It wasn’t particularly memorable or… what’s the auditory term for being aesthetically displeasing? Bad.
As for the surprise locker room kiss – it wasn’t exactly a revelation, and in fact, I had this weird sense of déjà vu as it was happening. I kept thinking maybe there had been some foreshadowing before, but then I realized I was thinking of an episode of Buffy, a comparison which does a disservice to the realistic plotlines and true-to-life character development of the vampires, slayers, witches and werewolves of the Buffyverse. I hope the writers do something meaningful with that little nugget – it could really have potential.
Okay, I’m wrapping it up, promise. Schu. Stupid, shit-eating grin Shu. Even though it was just a few of the Glee club members who were misappropriating Beiste’s image, let’s be sure to maximize her humiliation by telling EVERYONE in the Glee club about it and then making her the center of attention as the guys sing for her forgiveness. Unreal. Small concession: the guys’ Stop in the Name of Love/Free Your Mind mashup was better than the girls’, but not by much and mostly due to the fact that Free Your Mind is like the Chuck Norris of 90s songs – an eternal lyrical BAMF.
Last, but not least – I want to tell you a story. About the day I quit reality TV cold turkey. Anyone who has suffered from reality TV addiction knows that this affliction can be a crippling slippery slope to dark and terrifying places. I started light – I watched Flavor of Love. Then Flavor of Love 2. Then I Love New York. I Love Money, and finally, Charm School. But when Mo’Nique compared the journey of the Charm School contestants to the journey of the fleeing slaves in the Underground Railroad, I turned the television off, and with very few exceptions (I freaking love Scream Queens, ya’ll), I haven’t watched reality TV since. Several years earlier, I saw Spiderman, and when Tobey Maguire said “No Gobby – YOU’RE out. Out of your MIND,” my mind was made up. I never saw another Spiderman movie, or – come to think of it – another movie with either Kirsten Dunst or Tobey Maguire – again.
I tell you that to tell you this. When Coach Beiste said “Deep down inside, where no one can see…” I almost clicked my television off right then and there. I felt the bile rise in my throat, and I started to physically shake. That is 5th grade fan fic writing right there, and I was embarrassed for Glee, Fox, Ryan Murphy and most of all, Dot Jones.
Then, it got worse. In a truly painful example of audience pandering, Schu tells Beiste that she’s a beautiful and amazing woman, whose heart is just too big for most men to stand. Beiste replies, “You really think I’m pretty Will?” “Inside and out.” And at this point I scream at my TV – then date her, dick. If you are going to fuck with an emotionally vulnerable woman, and try to sell the audience on this trite “beauty is on the inside” bullshit, then you’d better be prepared to back it up mister. Make a real point and take a real stand – Glee writers, Schu, whomever – have Schu fall for Beiste and legitimize this ridiculous scene instead of passing off his insulting charity as kindness.
This episode was irresponsible, offensive and nonsensical, and the songs sucked. Screw you guys, I’m going home…. To watch South Park, which has a much more plausible storyline. You see, BP opened the gates to a new dimension when they drilled on the moon and released Cthulhu….
P.S. I realize I didn’t mention Kurt’s budding relationship with Blaine. I was happy for Kurt. Simple as that. It was a relatively solid, if expected, storyline. I was glad he found someone he could feel comfortable with because he was very obviously not finding that anywhere else, and I was relieved that this may herald the end of emo Kurt. It wasn’t groundbreaking, but it wasn’t bad (which in an episode like this, may have actually been worth noting). I hope it goes somewhere postitive and fun. I think a duet with them would be fantastic.
P.P.S. I make it a point not to read any other Glee reviews before I’ve written my own, so I read this after I’d written all of the above. I love this blog and its authors, and I 100 percent respect what they have to say here, and if only for the good it might have done for a popular culture that tends to either ignore or alternatively cartoonize (yes, it’s a word now) homosexuals, especially in content aimed at younger audiences, I might be convinced to give this episode a pass. It wasn’t good writing or good TV, but it may have served a greater purpose.