Category Archives: recaps/Glee

Glee, “Furt”: I popped the question in my building’s common-use hot tub. Boo-yah!

Were you tuning in with bated breath like me? Wondering if last week’s great Glee episode was an anomaly or the beginning of an upward swing? Does two not-bad episodes make for a hot streak? I don’t know, but I can say that this episode was a comedic and emotional success. Was it any more responsible in its message than the past few weeks? Not really, but I’ll save the boring proselytizing for the end.

Let’s talk about the fun stuff. The news anchor marrying his co-anchor and telling Sue, “You can’t tame the tiger – you’ve read my tattoos.” Good. Sue’s online dating profile, which lists, among her interests, “poking the elderly with pins.” Great. Finn questioning Kurt’s decision to release live doves at their parents’ wedding, and Kurt’s response – “That’s why we feed them glitter!” Excellent.

We had three main storylines going on here. First, Kurt’s dad and Finn’s mom are getting married, which means Finn is going to have to come to terms with Kurt’s homosexuality and having him as a brother. The second storyline – Kurt’s ongoing bullying at the hands of Karofsky,  feeds into this because the Glee gals decide to have their football team boyfriends go on the offensive in Kurt’s honor. Finn declines, citing his precarious position on the football team, and rival Sam gets all the glory.

Fun stuff first – that wedding was covered in gooey, dripping cheese, but dammit if I didn’t shed a tear… or two. It was fun and ridiculous and just right for the core of the Glee audience. And Schu’s performance of “Sway with Me” got me thinking…. Wouldn’t it be great if his performances were a treat? A rarity that only happened when the situation really called for it – like here? I’d like that so much better than feeling awkward every week as he steals the spotlight from the kids to serve his own selfish purposes.

Storyline three is Sue marrying… herself… in a weird, convoluted plot twist that really didn’t do it for me. Remember when Carrie did it in Sex and the City? Don’t scoff, guys, if you watch Glee, I’ll bet you’ve also watched at least a few episodes of SatC.  Anyway, it worked there. It didn’t here. And more than that, it didn’t seem all that necessary as a device to get her absentee Nazi-hunter mom (Carol Burnett) into town, so I’m still not sure what the point of the storyline was. Was it to resolve her mother issues? Or was it a self-affirming all-you-need-is-to-love-yourself self-wedding? I couldn’t tell you.

I’d be tarred and feathered if I so much as breathed a word against the legend Carol Burnett (especially by those guys who watch Glee and Sex and the City, ifyouknowwhatimean), so I’ll just tell you my favorite lines. “…the other mothers used to tell me that you’d never find anybody, but I said, no, no, no, no… she’s a perfectly okay child. She’ll grow into her looks. And you know what? I believe you still might.” “I was going to send you to Israel for your honeymoon – they love me there.”

Now on to the boring proselytizing. There’s too much wrong with the bullying storyline for it to be taken as seriously as it should be, and it honestly just reeks of Ryan Murphy (or one of the other writers) playing out some childhood trauma on screen.  I don’t understand how Karofsky gets away with bullying because no one saw it, but so do the Glee kids, who beat him up with an entire locker room watching. I don’t understand how Kurt’s dad gets away with threatening and assaulting a student. I don’t understand how he (and everyone else) seems to blame Finn for not sticking up for Kurt. I agree – Finn should’ve said something to Karofsky, but it’s not like he’s known about this for ages. He’s not the one responsible, and while it would’ve been the right thing to do for him to confront Karofsky, it wasn’t WRONG of him to have not done anything yet – especially given their relationship on the field.

I don’t understand how Sue gets away with what is – yes, you’re right, Kurt – bullying by calling him “lady” or any other nickname (whether he chooses it from a list of derogatory terms or not). I definitely don’t get why Kurt’s parents put up with it. I was thrilled that he finally reported the bullying and eventually the death threat because it did show, at least in the short term, that action would be taken. And finally, we get a real reason why Kurt should be apprehensive – when the school board reversed Karofsky’s expulsion, Kurt has a legitimate claim to say that the school is soft on bullying and to want to transfer to Dalton.

Which he does. All I can say is – CALLED IT! For now, Kurt is a Warbler, and I’m betting that while he might find his new digs and his new crew nice for awhile, he’s going to miss his Glee gang more than ever and find a reason to come back soon.

I hope this is the culmination of the Kurt-is-misunderstood-and-disadvantaged-because-of-his-sexuality, because Finn’s “You’re Amazing” performance at the wedding was just a little over the top for my tastes, and I’m tired of seeing Kurt portrayed as a victim. As long as we back away from this storyline and tone it down for a few episodes, I think we’ll be golden.

If I don’t try to make sense of the bullying storyline and just allow myself to get stupid on the pretty people and fun songs, this wasn’t a bad episode, but I’m not calling it a hot streak yet.  Next week’s sectionals competition should be interesting, though, so I’ll be staying tuned.

P.S. Something to think about – there was a subtle look during the wedding preparation conversation with Finn that built on her exclusion from the Glee-girls-with-football-boyfriends-meeting. Is Santana looking for love?


Glee, “The Substitute”: She’s an XBox, and I’m more an Atari.

Last time on ‘Glee,’ the writers took a vacation and let a bunch of monkeys and/or kids try their hand at writing an episode, I got violently ill at the result and verbally vomited all over this blog, and Kurt got a boyfriend! And that’s what you missed on… Glee!

Fear shouldn’t be the feeling with which you approach a popular primetime television show… unless maybe it’s The Walking Dead, but when I sat down to watch this week’s episode of Glee, I was nervous. Because if I was subjected to another episode like last week’s, I was done with this show, and I didn’t want to break it off, but I knew it would be best or both of us in the long run.

I peeked through my hands during the opening, and I even smiled when Sue nonchalantly said that being allies with Schu had gotten boring. And THEN… the kids. Why were the Muppet babies funnier than the regular Muppets? I don’t know, but they were, and when little Santana told little Puckerman he was lookin’ good and had been eating his Wheaties, little Rachel talked about exploring the oeuvre of Bernadette Peters and little Mercedes said Schu looked green, I was confident that the Glee I used to know and love was back… I just hope it stays.

That scene with the kids just goes to show you – if done right, something silly and absurd can be different and clever enough to make it okay. So, Schu gets sick, and the Glee club gets a substitute – Dame Gwyneth Paltrow, aka Holly Holliday. She’s fun and cool and hip and all the kids love her because she’s breakin’ the rules, but we all knew that her carefree ways were bound to be proven unsustainable.

She shows them just how cool she is by singing a Cee Lo song with *giggle* cuss words!! *giggle* Who am I kidding, though? I freaking love that song, and even with the “F*ck you” changed to “Forget you,” it was still a fun performance.

In fact, this episode was filled with fun performances that were well-integrated into the plot, at least by Glee standards. We also had Schu’s dream sequence where he and Mike Chang sang and danced their way through a performance of “Make Them Laugh.” It was dumb, but it was cute… kind of like Finn, and it was good to see Mike Chang used a little more.

It was a running theme that the kids didn’t get to choose their own songs for performances, and that’s what fun sub Holly would let them do, so peppered throughout the episode were flashbacks to Schu’s talking about Journey songs. It was a sparsely used, and therefore effective, device.

With her new freedom, Rachel chose to do a Broadway classic. Strict show tunes aren’t really my thing… Holly and Rachel’s “All That Jazz” dance number was fine, but nothing extraordinary. Mostly, it just proved my point from a few weeks ago. Rachel doing duets is a good, good move. She’s too much on her own.

And the final number – a mash up of Singing in the Rain and Umbrella was really nice visually and above average musically, so it left the episode on a high note. It was good to see Glee back to where it should be. Which, of course, is where the battle between Holly Holliday and Will Schuester for the kids’ affections and the Glee club job ended as well – right back where it should be. Although it seems Sue Sylvester is the principal for the time being… that could be very, very interesting.

The only other storyline centered on Mercedes and Kurt. Mercedes is feeling left out of Kurt’s new relationship and takes up the cause of having tater tots returned to the school cafeteria. The tots piece of it was pretty throwaway – it really just gave us the plot turn to demonstrate Holly’s inadequacies as a teacher and mentor.

More significant was Kurt’s budding relationship with Blaine. It was GREAT to see Kurt happy – he is so much more fun as a character when he’s not being emo. It is perfectly reasonable for Mercedes to feel shut out and overwhelmed by Kurt’s “gay talk” with Blaine, but I’m giving Kurt a pass on it for awhile – he clearly needed that in his life, and it’s a great thing to watch.

That said… KURT! YOU GOT A DEATH THREAT FROM A STUDENT. For the love of all things, please, please, please tell me he’s going to report this. Ugh. I get that he’s the good guy for not telling everyone that his bully is closeted, but friend – if the recent rash of anti-gay bullying incidents has taught us anything, it’s that these situations can spiral out of control quickly and MUST be reported.

For a show that has done so much for the gay community, I have to agree with Kelly Kapoor that it’s irresponsible to show Kurt taking that kind of abuse and not doing or saying anything about it. That is NOT the message that needs to be sent… Ryan Murphy is essentially saying that you can’t do anything about the bullies, but find yourself a boyfriend, and you’ll feel better.

Oh, there was also Schu’s relationship with Terri. She came back into his life to take care of him when he was weak and vulnerable, and we saw flashes of what might have made the two of them fall in love and stay together for so long. It also reminded me of what a purely “good” character Will was back in the beginning… it seems the disillusionment and fallout from his divorce has had a bigger impact on him – in subtle ways – than one would’ve thought.

Closing thoughts – good episode. Not the best ever, but solidly good and miles above last week’s. Keep it up, Glee.

Glee, “Never Been Kissed”: Worst. Episode. Ever.

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.

Glee, “The Rocky Horror Glee Show”: Ain’t no carpool lane to sexy.

When the episode started with the Rocky Horror lips, I was hopeful. If Glee did a relatively faithful recreation of the original story in the context of putting on a school performance, I was going to be pleased, and that seemed to be the direction we were heading. Unfortunately, like Janet and Brad, the night took a bizarre turn.

What should have been a Glee version of Rocky Horror was instead a typical Glee episode constructed around a Rocky Horror plot device, and the result was something disjointed and weak and extremely awkward. First of all, Schu is a terrible teacher (and kind of a terrible person), and each week, I’m having a more difficult time finding any sympathy for his struggle to keep the Glee club above water and for his quest to break up a functional and happy relationship. Seriously, what a douche. It’s one thing to use your personal baggage to influence your teaching lessons – it’s another to mask it as a lesson about the arts “pushing boundaries and taking risks.” Second of all, Figgins is a terrible principal. You’re suspended and have to go to summer school! No, just kidding – it’s fine, just a warning.

Good television is like good writing – showing, not telling. Do the writers think the audience is so stupid that we can’t figure out that Schu is doing Rocky Horror under false pretenses and solely out of his obsession with Emma? Do we have to have Schu, Figgins and Sue all spell it out to us multiple times? And this week’s Very Important Lesson was about body image, but omigod, whatatwist – they’re talking about male body image issues instead of female body image issues. I guess I buy it – I can’t imagine even the most confident high school guy getting excited about baring almost-all in front of the whole school. But it was a more powerful statement about body image that Mercedes worked those fishnets and that bustier than all the exposition between Finn and Sam about Cool Ranch Doritos and egg whites. This element of storyline wasn’t a complete stretch, and it gave us shirtless Finn, Sam and Schu, so, hey – I’m not complaining.

Anyway, once I finished objectifying the guys, was still asking myself – what was the point? What was the point of the Sue’s Corner about fear being the true meaning of Halloween? Just an excuse to trot out that fan favorite device and give Barry Bostwick and Meat Loaf their cameos? What was the point of Mike volunteering for the role of Frank N. Furter, only to have his parents reject it, then Mercedes’ emotional declaration that it’s her dream to play a lead role and that’s why she wants to play the Frank N. Furter part? Couldn’t we have skipped that part and had her volunteer for the part in the first place? It’s not that these issues take time away from the plot, but they set the audience up to think some kind of revelation is coming for those characters only to have them shoved into the background. I would’ve loved to see Mike Chang kick ass as Frank, and even though watching Mercedes own it like she owns everything, it didn’t have a payoff equivalent to the set-up since, in the end, she was the lead in a show that didn’t get produced.

Speaking of owning – Chris Colfer continues to be a high point of this show. He was flawless as Riff Raff. Same with Diana Agron as Magenta and Brittany as Columbia – loved it. I can’t say that I loved the episode as a whole, though. It had high points, for sure, but it was more wasted potential than anything else.

Low points:

  • The horribly distracting autotuning of Emma and Finn.
  • Baby Huey? No one under thirty got that reference.
  • Sue being right, rational and reasonable. Am I alone here, or are they deliberately making her a more believable protagonist than Schu?

High points:

  • The “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me” scene – perfect example of rolling your eyes because it’s so ridiculous while tapping your feet because it’s so fun.
  • Less sociopathic Rachel!
  • “Give me some chocolate or I will cut you.”
  • The final performance of “Time Warp” – exactly what this whole episode should’ve been.

Because of the heavily themed episode, Glee gets another pass on the shoehorned-into-the-plot designation, but only barely. Dr. Carl’s performance of “Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul” was underwhelming, and there are other great Rocky Horror performances I would’ve liked to see instead.

Glee, “Duets”: A duet by yourself? Isn’t that like vocal masturbation?

This week has sucked, so thank you, Ryan Murphy, for a Glee episode that was a bright spot in an otherwise pus-filled, infected and possibly cancerous tumor of a week. It was also flattered to see that Ryan Murphy has obviously been reading this blog, because he provided what I’ve been missing in Glee – the awesome, but upbeat – episode. He also apparently thought that my dig at Puck’s song last week was an accusation that the character is superfluous, which is not true, so I hope Puck gets out of juvie soon.

The episode started a little slow, and I geared up to write about the same issues that plague the show every week, but upon further reflection, I started to wonder if perhaps the bulk of my complaints stem from the writers’ realistic representation of high school students who are, by definitely, terrible people. I seriously want to punch every one of these bitches in the face during at least one point in every episode.

That said, Rachel did have a rare, albeit brief moment of self-awareness which led to a performance that was less hilariously awkward and more awkwardly weird. But Rachel should really only be allowed to sing duets… it tempers her and keeps her performances from being overwhelming.

I thought this episode dealt really well with some serious and legitimate high school issues – Artie losing his virginity, Quinn “getting back out there,” Kurt’s relationship with Finn and Finn’s concern about Ben’s “street cred.” You have to give credit to Glee for tackling these issues head-on and dealing with them in a more-or-less realistic way. I was impressed when Finn made the distinction that his reaction to Kurt’s advances was less about his discomfort with Kurt’s homosexuality and more about Kurt’s aggression. And taking the Glee universe as it is, Finn was absolutely right – Ben would’ve been teased mercilessly and if he’s really as concerned with his reputation and with fitting in at a new school, it would’ve likely been the end of Ben’s Glee club adventure. But we got to see another side of Ben this week, and maybe he’s not as wrapped up in the drama as we thought.

If I may digress for a minute, I read the Twilight books, and before you start throwing tomatoes, I want to confirm what everyone has said about Stephenie Meyer creating a fantasy world essentially for herself and inventing the teenage life she wishes she’d had. But I think Ryan Murphy is doing much of the same here with Glee… you get the same “underdog” tones with the understanding that outside of the construct, no one is really siding with the slushee-throwing football players.

Whether that’s true or not, the bottom line is, most of the time, Glee manages to walk the line between being mindless fun and being meaningful television, and this episode was a perfect example of that balance.

How much fun was the Mercedes/Santana duet? And Mike Chang and Tina? I love when you get chill bumps listening to these songs and immediately log on to download the original versions and the Glee versions, though, if we’re being honest, it’s almost always the Glee version I end up listening to more often.

Moments of Win:

  • Mercedes voting for herself and “Satan.”
  • Brittany moving the meatball with her nose.

No shoehorned-into-the-plot song this week. Within the context of the duets contest, everything made good sense. It was a fun episode, and it looks like next week is going to be even more enjoyable.

Glee, “Grilled Cheesus”: You had me at fabulous hat.

Oy vey. Religion. The only topic I have stronger opinions about is animal abuse, so if Glee covers a Michael Vick single, all bets are off, but for now, I’m going to try to check my baggage. It’s too early in the week, and I am way too sober to get serious and heavy with issues of mortality and spirituality, but kudos to Ryan Murphy for tackling a delicate issue in the first place and for doing so in a way that was pretty comprehensive and surprisingly sparse on clichés.

First of all, fabulous hats off to Chris Colfer. I thought his performance was really fantastic… subtle and believable and true to his character. The scene where he sang a reimagined version of the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was genuinely moving. The schmaltz was there – this is Glee, after all – but it was kept at acceptable levels. Musically, it’s an example of what made this show really great – powerful and new interpretations of songs that people have emotional – not commercial – connections to. This was a great example of the show doing it right. Last year’s mother-daughter “Poker Face” rendition was an example of doing it wrong. So very, very wrong.

Along the same lines, I loved Finn’s performance of “Losing my Religion.” The performance itself was fine, though the autotune is getting a little ridiculous this season – WTF was up with Amber Riley’s church performance? But it was the song choice and integration into the plot that I appreciated. It’s one of those songs that makes you think “Oh yeah… I forgot about that song. That was a GREAT song.” I love that feeling of rediscovery, and Glee’s modernization of songs like that is what I really enjoyed about the first season and what I hope to see more of in this season. I’d also like to see a little more subtlety in the integration of songs and plot this year – it’s getting a little Mary Katherine Gallagher in the “my thoughts… on this subject… can best be expressed… by a monologue a song…”

What else would I like to see less of? Sociopathic Rachel. No surprise, in this episode, Rachel is still annoying as shit. “But more importantly, let’s discuss your newfound love for Jesus, and how it’s affecting me.”  Whatever. Over it. I guess that’s what they’re going to do with her this season, so fine. I am liking Emma more and more – it’s good to see her being a little more assertive, even though that seems to come at the expense of her quirkiness. Still, I’ll be thinking of her as half orangutan from now on, and that’s freaking hilarious.

Those lines are the best, especially from Sue, because they are so random but seem to come so naturally to her character. I absolutely believe that Sue Sylvester has thought through her wish that Mary Lou Retton’s parents would suffer heart attacks. There was also some interesting background on Sue’s relationship with her sister and how that has affected her attitude toward religion.

All I’ll say on that is that too often, non-belief is depicted as a personal failing instead of a legitimate, conscious, and informed choice. In Emma’s scene with Sue, we see the prevailing attitude that poor Kurt is just misguided and contrary and really needs prayer and spiritual guidance for comfort instead of someone supporting him in the ways he chooses to grieve. In this one instance, I choose to believe that Sue was actually acting out of as much genuine interest for Kurt’s position as she was out of general desire to mess with Schu and the Glee club.

I actually liked this episode quite a bit – some pieces were certainly weaker than others, but I think Chris Colfer’s performance and Finn’s “Grilled Cheesus” religious crisis storyline made it more good than bad. It’s an example of how good Glee can be when it’s powerful and dramatic. I’ve yet to see an episode this season where Glee shows how good it can be when it’s powerful and upbeat and fun, so I’m, uh, praying, that we see that soon. The bottom line is, whether its acupuncture, grilled cheese or God, we’ve all got to believe in something. Personally, I’ve always found cheese very, very comforting.

Ballsy lines for primetime network television:

  • “Asking someone to believe in a fantasy, however comforting, isn’t a moral thing to do. It’s cruel.”
  • “It’s as arrogant as telling someone how to believe in God, and if they don’t accept it, no matter how open-hearted and honest their dissent, they’re going to hell. Well, that’s doesn’t sound very Christian does it?”

God bless Brittany:

  • “I did a book report on heart attacks if you want to give it to the doctor.”

Shoehorned-into-the-plot song:

  • “Only the Good Die Young.” I enjoyed it… Puck is a fun character, but you could’ve plucked that scene right out and nothing would’ve been affected. It was a total afterthought. And while Lea Michele gets a pass this week, does she have a clause in her contract that she has to sing one overly dramatic ballad/show tune each week? My brother is a vocalist, and I get that those songs show off a singer’s chops, but for those of us who can’t carry a tune in a bucket, it’s just boring.

Glee, “Britney/Brittany”: Like roofies? Yeah, totally.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve had seven beers, seen a great concert (Jenny and Johnny), come home to Adam Levine and Dane Cook on television before turning on Glee. So, suffice to say, it’s been a night of highs and lows.

That’s as far as I got in this write-up last night before I fell asleep on the couch – it was about the time that the boys did their “Stronger” routine on the field, but oddly enough, when I watched it again today, I didn’t feel like I had missed much while I was drooling on my couch cushions. I mean, what is there to say about this episode, really? It was a series of Britney Spears videos remade by the cast of Glee with some weirdly disjointed dialogue scenes stuffed in between.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the episode – at least the first half. Remember what I said last week about the balance between creative and contrived? Well, the first half of the episode may not have been that creative, but it was damn entertaining, and I didn’t mind the ridiculous plot devices (Nitrous oxide-induced Britney fantasies. Say that out loud if you don’t think it’s a pretty out there) because the dancing was so awesome. Seriously, Heather Morris can WORK IT. Yes, I know she was the choreographer on the show before she was a cast member, but I was still floored by her moves.

And Brittany and Santana are some of the most fun characters, but they have to be used sparingly, and this was a great way for the audience to see more of these two without wearing out their respective shticks. So, A+ to the opening Britney/Brittany number, but things went downhill from there. Why do we have to hear Rachel sing a heart-wrenching ballad at the end of every episode? Rachel sucks. I mean, she’s an entertaining character, but let’s be real. She’s a jerk and represents everything men hate about women (except the tight body). I just hope the legions of pre-teen girls who idolize her don’t think that the way she treats Finn – or anyone else for that matter – is acceptable and that deep down, they, like Rachel, are just hyper-talented and misunderstood late-bloomers waiting to be swept away by the captain of the football team. Ain’t gonna happ’n, cap’n. But then again, this is supposed to represent high school, and acting like a self-centered bitch and setting up your boyfriend and being passive-aggressive are all part of the high school girl experience, so whatever. Maybe they get a pass, but it still makes me cringe and root for a reunion with Quinn when Rachel says things like “I want to be the only thing that makes you feel good.” Vomit.

I’m starting to think maybe I shouldn’t have agreed to write up this show, because seriously, the more you think about it, the less entertaining it is. Boardwalk Empire, Glee is not. My unsolicited advice to Ryan Murphy? Limit these kinds of episodes or you’re going to lose the audience that actually enjoys the story and character development. This one was more fun than not, and maybe after Lady Gaga, Madonna and Britney, we’re finally done with fawning tributes to pop icons. I kind of hope so… I’m ready to get back to the Glee kids breathing new life into classics.  But… what do I know? Last night’s episode got the series’ highest ratings ever.

One last thing about Mr. Schue… since when does he need to get more impulsive? Oh, that’s right, since it served to move the plot forward. Who exactly is supposed to b the protagonist in this story? Who is the audience supposed to identify with? I used to think it was Mr. Schue, but this season especially, he’s insecure, a spotlight hog, and more than a little unbalanced.

Best line: Not a line, but how hilarious are the pamphlets in Emma’s office? “Proper Wiping: Easy as 1-2-3?” Let’s be real, here – poop jokes are never not funny.

Shoehorned-into-the-show-song: “Only Exception.”  The closing number… a tearful ballad…. from Rachel…. once again.  Wank.