I had high hopes for last night’s episode of Glee because I’ve been playing the video of the Troubletones’ Adele mash-up on a loop since last week. And while there were definitely parts of the episode I really liked, it was still inconsistent and a tad too preachy. Sometimes what bothers me most about Glee is that it has so much potential. Honestly, nothing bothers me more than people who constantly complain about a TV show yet continue to watch it. If I thought Glee sucked I’d break up with it. The problem is, I don’t think Glee sucks. I like so many things about the show. So why ya gotta make it so hard for me to LOVE you, Glee?
Here are some things I loved about the episode: The You and I mash-up, the Adele mash-up, Santana’s slew of hilarious insults, the ridiculously over-the-top campaign ads, Rachel realizing she’d betrayed Kurt by running against him for student council president and backing out of the election, Brittany’s speech, Puck trying to stay a part of Beth’s life even if that means selling out Quinn.
Here are some things I didn’t love about the episode: Hot for teacher (it’s so overdone), the bizarre show choir vs. show choir dodgeball game that was supposed to solve…what?, the return to a tired anti-bullying storyline, that weird Hall & Oates mash-up, Saint Kurt.
You’re Hot, I’m Hot
There are aspects of the Puck and Shelby storyline that I like. As I’ve said in past reviews, I absolutely hate what the writers have done with Quinn this season. She used to be one of my favorite characters, but they’ve now managed to squeeze every ounce of likability out of her personality. So I was happy to see Puck come to his senses and abandon her scheme to win Beth back from Shelby. It was possibly the first mature thing Puck has ever done, to put the relationship he wants to have with his daughter above everything else, including his complicated relationship with Quinn. He did the right thing in telling Shelby that Quinn couldn’t be trusted, because that meant he was putting Beth’s well being first – she belongs with Shelby, and he knows that.
But the hot for teacher thing? This is a storyline that has become so overused and tired, it’s ridiculous. Just yesterday I mentioned in a post about Ringer how disappointed I was to see my beloved Logan Echolls involved in one of these storylines. Every show from Gossip Girl to Big Love has done it, and it’s stale now. Back in season one when Will Schuester had to deal with Rachel’s schoolgirl crush on him, that was a good storyline. Will was uncomfortable about how Rachel was acting around him, but he still liked her as a student and didn’t want to hurt her feelings. He had to get the message that it was not going to happen across to her in a delicate way.
But this is different, obviously. Puck is 18 and the actor playing him is almost 30 years old. In real life, it would be more appropriate for Mark Saling to date Idina Menzel, who is 40, then it would be for him to date a high school student. So right off the bat, this storyline has a different tone than the Will and Rachel storyline. But it’s still gross. Shelby is a teacher at Puck’s school and, furthermore, is the adoptive mother of the biological child he gave up. That’s super weird. I understand the temptation of the writers to go the romantic route with these characters, but the end result is just plain creepy. Frankly, this would have been a much richer storyline had it just been about Puck stepping up as a man, becoming a part of Beth’s life and thus a part of Shelby’s, in a totally platonic way. She could have mentored him on what to do after graduating from high school, we could have seen some actual character development. Instead they went the obvious, predictable, overused route and it just feels cheap.
That said, I did dig Puck’s performance of “Hot For Teacher”, thanks in large part to Blaine and Mike’s awesome dancing. I just wish it had been under different circumstances.
Mash-Off is On
Shelby and Will get along, but the kids in their dueling glee clubs don’t. Now that they’ve been pitted against each other for Sectionals, tensions have really started to rise. But can I ask – is ANYONE going to acknowledge the fact that there is a membership quota to compete in Sectionals? This was a big deal in season one, and I don’t hear anyone talking about it now. Neither of these groups seem to have 12 people, especially not Shelby’s.
Anyway, to foster a healthier spirit of competition between the two groups, Will suggested they do a mash-off. Each glee club would perform a mash-up for the other. To announce it, Will and Shelby sang a mash-up of Lady Gaga’s You & I (one of my favorite songs by her) and some unknown other song called You and I. I looked it up last night but I’d never heard of the band, but I really enjoyed their mash-up.
Let’s just talk about the two performances now. The New Directions were awful, and the Troubletones were fantastic. Was this on purpose, to make us think that the New Directions are truly in trouble(tones? haha…) of losing at Sectionals? Membership quotas aside, I really don’t see how the writers can avoid merging these two groups at some point. It just doesn’t make sense to have two different groups competing, because eventually that will mean half the characters on the show don’t get to attend Regionals, or Nationals or whatever, and that’s no good.
I mean, a Hall and Oates mash-up? Really? It was so unbelievably lame, especially with the costumes and mustaches. And that Adele mash-up? It was killer. I don’t know if Mercedes and Santana have ever sounded better, and I loved everything from the arrangement to the dresses to the choreography. It was amazing.
War of the Wits
The mash-off wasn’t the only way the glee kids were competing, though. Santana had been hurling a slew of insults all week at Finn, who really couldn’t keep up. Who could? It’s Santana. Santana has always been a tricky character. I love her, but you can’t deny that she’s a bitch. She says mean things that are hilarious, but can also be hurtful.
First Finn tried to channel their aggression towards each other in another way – a dodgeball tournament. This was super weird. I mean, why did Finn think a dodgeball game would help? I would have suggested a friendly round of Snap Cup. The Troubletones creamed New Directions, but after the game had already been one they continued to pummel poor Rory, who didn’t even know how to play the game. He ended up with a bloody nose, and Kurt ended up with another opportunity to be horrified and self-righteous.
Winning dodgeball didn’t mean Santana stopped with her insults. She kept throwing them, and eventually it became too much for Finn. He fired back with a cheap shot – that she’s in love with Brittany, and is constantly knocking other people down because she’s so terrified that Brittany doesn’t love her back. Yeah, Finn shouldn’t have said it, but Santana also kind of deserved it. She was being horrible. She was being a bully.
I Pledge to…
Meanwhile, when Rachel asked Shelby to write her a letter of recommendation for NYADA, she finally realized how she’d betrayed Kurt. Rachel already had so many impressive things on her resume, she didn’t need to be student council president as well – but Kurt could have used the resume boost. It was a little obnoxious that it took Rachel so long to figure this out, but she’s always been self-absorbed. It’s part of what makes her Rachel, whether you like her or not. (And I actually like her.)
When the time came for election speeches, Kurt and Rachel still weren’t speaking. First the hockey playing ginger with the mullet made a speech about…actually I have no idea what he said. Then Brittany pledged to ban murderous tornadoes from McKinley High, and also to go topless on Tuesdays. Obviously, she should win. Then Kurt pledged to ban dodgeball. Frankly, I’m shocked that he wasn’t literally standing on a soapbox when he made that speech.
Really, Kurt? Banning dodgeball? That feels a little extreme, considering the violent dodgeball game that took place was unsupervised and not a required part of any legitimate form of McKinley High physical education. Look, I don’t like dodgeball either – I also don’t like running, jumping, throwing, catching, or generally doing anything that requires me to move off my couch and away from the TV – but that doesn’t mean I think it should be eliminated from the lives of those who inexplicably like it! If you want to eliminate brutality from McKinley High, then I suggest you try expelling Santana.
Kurt has become the poster child for anti-bullying at McKinley, and in some aspects that’s OK. He was bullied, he got through it, and now he wants to help others. So have him pledge to make McKinley implement a Zero Tolerance for Bullying policy (I still prefer Zero Tolerance for Tornadoes) that’s actually enforced. But pledging to ban dodgeball because it’s the modern day version of stoning? That’s just stupid. It’s just as easy to pick on and bully kids while playing basketball or soccer or simply while walking down the halls.
When it was Rachel’s turn, she declared her withdrawal from the race and asked that anyone who was planning to vote for her throw their support to Kurt. (Was anyone planning on voting for Rachel, though? This only makes things easier on Finn.) Rachel cited the fact that Kurt was the only candidate to never do a negative campaign, but I couldn’t care less about that. What I did care about was the fact that Rachel realized she’d betrayed Kurt and corrected the situation. She realized that their friendship is more important that padding her resume, and that going to NYADA won’t be the same if she doesn’t go with her best friend. I love the friendship that has developed between Rachel and Kurt, two talented and ambitious people, and I was happy to see them make up.
Throughout the episode, we saw Sue’s attack ads for her campaign that suggested ridiculous things like Burt Hummel having a baboon heart and marrying a donkey. They were funny, and provided exactly the right dose (small) of Sue Sylvester in the episode. And then Santana was called into Sue’s office and she apologized for having gone negative. When she set that tone, the other candidates went negative too and one of them was targeting Santana.
The daughter of a candidate had heard what Finn said to Santana in the halls, and the result was an ad questioning Sue’s own sexuality because she’s unmarried and promoted a known lesbian student to head cheerleader. And all I could think was “Come on.”
While I appreciate that a good storyline might come out of Santana having to deal with an unwanted public outing, this was just too ridiculous to accept. The baboon ads were funny, but I can’t extend my suspension of disbelief so far to pretend like someone would actually ruin a teenage girl’s life in this way.
This all happened before Santana performed the Adele mash-up with the Troubletones, and after the performance she freaked out at Finn, screaming at him for outing her and then slapping him in front of everyone.
I wish Glee wouldn’t be so heavy-handed about some of these “lessons”, because otherwise there is some good material here. Santana has been put in an outrageously unfair situation, in being basically forced to come out of the closet. I wish the writers had found a more plausible way to bring this about because it is interesting. It’s an unfair and wrong situation, but in a way it’s also Santana’s own fault. The only reason Finn said anything to her was because she’d been pummeling him with insults. If Santana hadn’t been such a bitch – such a bully- Finn would have left her alone. Viewers aren’t stupid, and we didn’t need to be hit over the head with Kurt’s speech about dodgeball to understand that Santana’s bullying had caused these problems.
I’ve said a lot, so now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Do you have the same problems I do? Different ones? Do you love Glee still, or hate it? (And if so, what will it take for you to stop watching?) And who wants to compile a list of every show that’s gone the Hot For Teacher route?
There were some good lines from Santana in this episode, but they came so fast that I missed most of them. Also, they were mean and I believe the lesson Glee shoved down my throat this week was that being mean will ruin your life. So here are some other great lines and moments:
- What the HELL was Kurt wearing in that first scene? A poncho? A leather turban? What was going on??? (OK that wasn’t a great moment but I forgot to include it elsewhere.)
- Brittany singing “Stop the violence” to Santana was hilarious, and possibly improvised.
- I thought the way the dodgeball game ended was stupid, but the Hit Me With Your Best Shot/One Way or Another mash-up fantasy sequence made me happy.
- “Don’t judge me, I’m 18. It’s legal. Besides, the age difference isn’t that crazy. Just look at Ashton and Demi, Indiana Jones and Ally McBeal, Woody Allen and that Chinese girl.” – Puck (I’m guessing he doesn’t know “that Chinese girl” was practically Woody Allen’s daughter at one point.)
- “A vote for Brittany is a vote for root beer water fountains and robot teachers. … And also, listen. Rachel Berry’s still on Myspace, and thus unfit to lead.” – Brittany
- “Well maybe you should have thought of that before you walked all over me on your borderline sociopathic climb to the top.” – Kurt
- “I’m from Lima Heights. I was raised on insults. It’s how mi abuela put me to sleep at night, and she is not a nice lady. You know she tried to sell me once? And it wasn’t til I got to kindergarten that I learned my name wasn’t Garbage Face.” – Santana
- Sugar saying that she sounds just like Adele.
- “I love her. She sounds like what banana cream pie sounds like when it sings.” – Brittany’s interpretation of Adele
- “I’m not impressed by your campaign. You didn’t put any posters up.” – Brittany, when Mercedes nominates herself to be leader of the Troubletones
- Brittany: “I think you need to stop making fun of Finn. You’re being really harsh.”
Santana: “Manatees have really thick skin.”