Glee – Episode 1-17 Review

This week’s episode of Glee, “Bad Reputation”, delivered a giant dose of wacky hilarity that made me fall in love with the show in the first place. The ridiculous plot lines, the romantic entanglements and the retro videos were all classic Glee. I enjoyed the episode even though it didn’t include the classic Joan Jett song I love so much.

The episode opened with a bunch of glee kids sitting around a laptop watching a video of Sue Sylvester performing her jazzercise routine to Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical”. Still stinging from the embarrassment Sue subjects them to, Kurt and Mercedes had stolen the video from the drawer where Sue keeps her hormone-replacement injections and posted it on YouTube. Before the days’ end the video had gone viral and Sue was a laughing stock. As she walked through the hall and a beefy student requested they “get physical’, Sue originally responded with “Not really my type, but I like that attitude,” but soon realized something was up.

Sue, of course, took to Principal Figgins’ office blaming the glee kids. She even brought some sample comments from the repuation-damaging video, like “The man in this video looks like the champion cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester.” The only weird part was that Sue soon diverted Figgins’ attention away from the video posting and towards another glee club crime – something called a “Glist”. The list ranked kids in the glee club based on hotness and had been posted in the school – apparently a crime far worse than a list Sue herself had once posted of the ten ugliest gingers in the school. Figgins told Schuester to find out who posted the Glist, or New Directions would be over because “He cannot have these shenanigans in this school!”

Everyone was obsessed with where they had placed on the Glist, or with the fact that they hadn’t made it on at all. Will was struggling with his own reputation issues too, so he assigned the glee club to find songs that were the victims of bad reputations. He demonstrated with a performance of “Ice Ice Baby”. Will Schuester rapping is so wrong that it’s right.

Where did Mr. Schue’s bad rep come from? Well, from Sue Sylvester in a way. Sue was struggling with the fallout from her video – she faced cruel, slow-motion laughter in the staff room, met a maniacal teacher played by Molly Shannon and could smell coffee instead of fear – so she went to visit her sister. I love scenes between Sue and her sister, and Jane Lynch was fantastic this episode. Sue’s visit with her sister reminded her that she used to volunteer at an animal shelter when she was sad, because there is always someone worse off than yourself. So who was a sad puppy that Sue could help? Emma Pillsbury.

The past few Glee episodes have been a little light on Emma Pillsbury for my taste. I love the character. I also loved her interactions with Sue, because they are such polar opposites. Sue volunteered to act as Emma’s new psychiatrist and encouraged her to speak her mind to Will – after she filled Emma in on Will’s make-out session with the Vocal Adrenaline coach and his sleepover with April Rhodes. Emma took to the staff room to chew Will out, which she did right in the middle of his consoling another teacher who’d just lost her husband. I loved Emma’s rant, which included the word “slut” about 87 times and concluded with a heartfelt “I’m sorry for your loss” to the woman he’d been consoling.

Meanwhile, the glee kids were working on ways to move up on the Glist. Kurt, Mercedes, Artie and Tina hadn’t even appeared on the list, so they planned a major move to raise their profiles. A drugged-up Brittany joined them, because she was upset with her rank as fourth. After all, she’d made out with everyone in the school – even a janitor. The crew decided to “get their glee on” in the library, but unfortunately it was much tamer than it sounded. They performed a rousing rendition of “Can’t Touch This”, hammer-pants and all. Unfortunately instead of proving themselves bad-asses, they only succeeded in impressing the elderly, church-going librarian. She was going to talk to her pastor about getting them a gig at Sunday service! The performance was probably my least favorite of the episode, though. Glee and hip-hop have a difficult relationship, and while Will doing “Ice Ice Baby” was funny this one didn’t really work for me.

To recover from the botched image redesign, Kurt designed he would ‘fess up to Sue about the leaked video. Sue would lose her mind, but once everyone knew Kurt had been behind it he’d become a McKinley High legend. Unfortunately, an interesting new twist had developed and when Kurt broke the news to Sue she actually thanked him. Yes, thanked him – because Olivia Newton-John herself had called up Sue Sylvester to remake the “Let’s Get Physical” music video.

The actual appearance of Olivia Newton-John in the Glee world I loved. I love the wonky, surreal universe that Glee exists in. If Sue Sylvester can be a famous cheerleading coach, then it is also possible that Olivia Newton-John would make a video with her. And I was really looking forward to the video. Olivia declared that she had botched the video back in the 80s and she wanted to do it justice. And while I loved everything about Sue Sylvester singing, I expected a fresher, newer video. After all, wasn’t it supposed to be the video “Let’s Get Physical” never had? So why was it still fitness-focused? It was fun, but I’d hoped for better.

Rachel was also trying to up her sex appeal, and she enlisted Puck to help her. I love Rachel Berry when she’s intolerably egotistical. “Hold onto your hat,” she declared. “Because Rachel Berry is about to become musically promiscuous!” And despite the sexual tension in the room with “PuckleBerry”, Rachel did keep her promiscuity strictly musical. The resulting video was my favorite part of the episode.

I actually didn’t know the song “Run Joey Run”, but everything about the Rachel Berry version was amazing. The fact that Rachel described it as a “story song”, the crazy look in her eyes while she was performing, the split screen shots, and the fog machine were all ridiculously Rachel Berry. It took me a minute to realize that she had conned all three guys into appearing in the video, but that part was amazing. Rachel clearly thought that the video would imply that she had slept with all three guys and would therefore raise her hotness quotient. But like everything Rachel Berry, it was very easy to see through and the guys just ended up mad at her.

Will tried to patch things up with Emma, but the damage was already done – both to Emma’s feelings and Will’s reputation. When Will realized the damage that Emma’s outburst (and his own shenanigans) had done for his reputation, he caught a glimpse of Quinn and realized she was in the same boat. It became clear to him that Quinn had made the Glist in an effort to put herself at the top of the social food chain again. The scene between Mr. Schue and Quinn was very sweet.

The episode closed with Rachel singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” with both Jesse and Finn. It was a pretty simple performance, but I loved how Lea Michele sounded and I liked the messages she managed to send to both Jesse and Finn during the song.

Overall, I really liked the episode. The rapping and the “Let’s Get Physical” video weren’t the best Glee performances I’ve ever seen, but I liked the kooky and lighthearted feel to this episode. I also liked how that vibe was coupled with some sweeter moments, like those between Sue and her sister and between Mr. Schue and Quinn. I’d like to see more of the sparks between Rachel and Puck, more of Molly Shannon and more of the relationship between Will and the newly-confident(ish) Emma in upcoming episodes. What did you think of “Bad Reputation”?

You can follow Jill at her blog,, or on Twitter @jillemader Jill has been an avid fan of TV since the age of two, when she was so obsessed with Zoobilee Zoo that her mother lied and told her it had been canceled. Despite that setback, she grew up to be a television aficionado and pop culture addict.