Recap: 'Glee' - 'Sexy'
Students and teachers alike struggle with their sexual identities
In honor of tonight’s “Glee,” I contemplated making this review eight completely unrelated paragraphs. That, I felt, would be a literal and honest response to yet another schizophrenic hour of television. But somehow I feel like the powers that be here at HitFix might frown upon such a technique, so I’m left trying to cobble together coherent thoughts about “Sexy,” an episode that was honestly anything but.
[Full recap of Tuesday's (March 8) "Glee" after the break...]
However, the ironic title needn’t have been a bad thing. Having the title be like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife could have proved the point that was occasionally bobbling to the service: teenagers are incredibly overstimulated yet incredibly undersexed. They are bombarded with imagery in every facet of popular culture, yet often have to make sense of them the way archeologists try to make sense of hieroglyphics. Moreover, they talk a huge game with the real story behind their supposed sexual prowess far from Wilt Chamberlain-esque. None of these things are particularly revelatory, but fit perfectly fine into a show that started off with its theoretical hero unaware that premature ejaculation in a hot tub can’t get a girl pregnant.
But of course the show wasn’t about that, but rather a mishmash of sexual hang-ups, sex tapes, and some heartfelt confrontations about “non-traditional” sexuality. As with most episodes of “Glee,” some of this worked like gangbusters, and some of it worked as well as this year’s Oscars. There’s absolutely no telling when an episode of this show is going to work, because very often it’s a completely crapshoot if a particular scene is going to work. It’s the type of tightrope walking that the show does because it doesn’t know how to do anything else at this point.
Take a trip down tonight’s musical performance for the type of zigzagging that makes “Glee” fans reach for the Dramamine: a high-energy number featuring impossibly synched-up choreography; a literally soapy a capella performance inside the same structure where Paul Abdul once warbled about cold-hearted snakes; the first instance in the history of “Glee” in which a lavish production number made sense; a quiet acoustic number designed to express inner turmoil; and finally, an over-the-top number played for laughs at the expense of making its characters look dumb. Someone, quick: beer me.
Personally? “Kiss” was the highlight, in that it did the one thing that I’ve been begging the show to do since it started. It finally justified a ridiculously over-the-top stage number by simply saying the words, “Imagine that…” Those two words from Will to Holly sold every moment on that candlelit stage. Simple, brutally effective, and will probably never be employed again by the show. Why? Because it’s not clear that the writers recognized that they stumbled from horse manure into solid gold with those two simple words by Will. It was just another idea tossed into the “Glee” blender and whipped up like Sue’s Starbucks’ enemas.
Bringing Holly into the mix this week also meant a return to a focus on the Will/Emma/Carl triangle, which would be great had John Stamos been on the show since the “Rocky Horror” debacle last Fall. Gwyneth Paltrow is certainly game on “Glee,” even thought it’s clear that her mouth has a hard time uttering the lines written for her character. Paltrow is many things, but “sassy” isn’t one of them. Holly and Will probably do make more sense than Emma and Will, but it’s all moot: is anyone watching “Glee” for the adults at this point, other than some sarcastic Sue monologues? Any time spent on the adults is time better spent on the kids at this stage of the show.
Speaking of sassy, the show decided that Santana has been a bitch for two seasons because she’s secretly afraid of being labeled a lesbian. I don’t particularly have a problem with the idea behind the storyline, but to shove it into 40 minutes of television feels cheap when compared with the way that Kurt and Blaine have been handled on the show. Could Santana have been ACTING out in order to avoid having to COME out? Sure. But her sudden seriousness of purpose came so fast that it devalued what could have been a storyline that started with Kurt’s departure for Tolerance Hogwarts, and culminated tonight. But that would have actually involved plotting a season of television, not simply an act break of an episode.
Over in the Kurt/Blaine side of things, “Glee” went full blown after school special. This week, Blaine replaced Kurt as Ryan Murphy’s Soapbox, this time espousing the dangers that come for gay teenagers who rarely receive sex education at home. It’s hard to fault the message, but Lord, this show can get its preach on when it really wants to. Compare and contrast that with the way that Burt delicately and compassionately handled his eventual talk with Kurt, and you can see even more just how awful Blaine’s proselytizing was. (New rule: anytime the show needs to rein in the crazy, just insert Mike O’Malley. Better yet: just put a cardboard Burt cutout in every scene. His presence alone may curb the insanity.)
Still: a show in which “sexiness” gave way to Santana and Kurt working through their complicated identity issues could have been a GREAT episode. The problem with “Glee” is almost never the idea and almost always the execution. In the last episode, a bottle episode in Rachel’s basement had the potential to be the show’s finest moment. This week, reducing the focus to two characters and leaving the rest out could have provided powerful counterpoint to the nominal theme of the week. But the show couldn’t resist the Puck/Lauren sex tape angle, threw in a Finn/Quinn cliffhanger that came out of nowhere, and spent far too long on adults that are more immature than the students they purport to teach. The results will have Justin Timberlake once again having to find sexy and bring it back to the masses.
Some more bullets about tonight’s episode:
*** Blaine, you’re a star. Bring the girls from your sister school to turn them on, and only tell them you’re gay after bringing them to a (literal) frothing point. You’re truly awesome.
*** I understand that The Dixie Chicks had three-part harmony on their cover of “Landslide,” but Paltrow’s presence in the performance made it feel more like her song than Santana’s. (And would Santana EVER pick that song? Ever?)
*** It’s good to know that Kurt learned about sexy faces by watching “Zoolander.”
*** Either Tolerance Hogwarts has an industrial park on-campus, or “Glee” decided to stage the entire number in Allentown. I hear they’re closing all the factories down there.
*** No guy that thinks cucumbers give you AIDS should be allowed in ANY bed, never mind one with another person on it.
*** The one-shot where the entire glee club learns about Brittany’s “pregnancy” was well-written, staged, and performed. Just let these kids interact with each other, “Glee.” It tends to work out pretty well when you just let them bounce off each other. Well, metaphorically, that it.
What did you think of “Sexy”? Did the disparate pieces add up to a successful whole, or simply fall apart at the seams? Did the Santana storyline feel organic, or simply rushed? And with regionals around the corner, do you even care about the outcome there? Sound off below!
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