S2E14: I love Glee, I really do, but this season they’re really making it difficult for me to keep admitting that. Every time a preview makes everyone else say “UGH” I’m the one who jumps to the show’s defense. “Guys, a Justin Bieber tribute could be funny if they do it right!” (It was okay.) “Guys, an episode where they all get wasted like the high school students they actually are could be hilarious. Just wait, this one will be good.” Nope. I’ve wasted my breath on defending Glee yet again.
This isn’t to say that there weren’t good parts – like the fact that up until the purple puke portion of the performance, “Tik Tok” was about a million times better than any time Ke$ha has performed it – but as a whole, Glee is spiraling downward into becoming little more than one of those crappy, wacky Saturday morning cartoons only they’ve got live-action and a bigger production budget. Where is the Glee we all fell in love with? There are glimpses of it every episode, but almost every time it gets run over with outlandish (even for Glee) plot lines, dialogue, and jokes that kill those glimpses where they stand.
“Just listen to any hit by pop sensation Kee-dollar-sign-hah.” –Figgins
“Don’t you mean Ke$ha?” –Schue
Well isn’t this just straight out of the after school special manual of how to teach kids through television. Step one: create an out of the blue drinking epidemic. Step two: enlist the plucky teen stars of the show to lead up the Alcohol Awareness week festivities. Step three: have those plucky teens get completely shitfaced and subsequently hopelessly addicted to alcohol. Step four: the well-meaning teacher behind those kids ends up with a little “drinking problem” of his own (complete with embarrassing drunk dials). Boom: we get a gaggle of alcohol addicted teens learning their lesson after alcohol causes them to embarrass themselves in front of the entire school.
This is all fine and well, but did they have to borrow the script from an after school special too? Really, Sue? Finding people to help with music programs is difficult? (I see your agenda, Ryan Murphy.) Oh really, Coach Bieste? You’re drunkenly telling Schue how to trust young teens because they’re going to drink anyway? Oh really, Finn, you’re a designated driver? How miraculously responsible. This episode straddled the line between blatant PSA and camp with no snark. Where are you, old Glee?
“It’s Alcohol Awareness week and we’re supposed to be singing about the dangers of alcohol but I’ve never even had a drink.” –Rachel
“Wait seriously? So that’s why I never got to second base.” –Finn
I do appreciate that we can always count on Finn to remind us that he’s a lovable, but still incredibly horny teenager. (That’s one of those season one glimpses.) Rachel has decided that her new original song, “My Headband” is terrible because she doesn’t have enough life experience, so she takes Puck up on his request to have a party at her house while her dads are on a Rosie O’Donnell cruise. (Really? That’s the big gay cruise name you came up with? TIRED.) Apparently life experience equals getting WASTED. Yep, that sounds about right for a 17 year old.
Of course Rachel’s party looks like something out of My Fair Lady if it mated with a middle school dance and everyone wants to leave until Puck breaks into her dads’ liquor cabinet. Cut to everyone being wasted, Brittany stripping, Santana crying, and eventually everyone playing spin the bottle.
“Your face tastes awesome.” –Rachel
All this boozing and Finn’s rejection after Rachel drunkenly hangs on him leads to a mini-make-out between Blaine and Rachel. Yep, here’s the part where Blaine questions his sexuality. The pair sing a duet of “Don’t You Want Me” while everyone sits around patiently and watches them? What kinds of parties did these writers go to in high school? (At least by the end, everyone is making out. That’s more like it.) Of course, this is all bracketed by solemn looks from Finn and Quinn. They’re really trying to keep this whole thing going, aren’t they?
Rachel decides she needs to try dating Blaine and gets up the courage to ask him out with the help of a bottle of very pink wine – because she drank once and now she’s a booze-hound. Right. When he actually says yes because he’s confused and thinks maybe he might be bi-sexual, Kurt rips him a new one. Later, Kurt tears Rachel down in a similar fashion but of course she just takes it as a challenge and serves up that terrible line about buying him a slice of humble pie when he’s proved wrong. Of course, this all reaches an end when Rachel kisses Blaine sober in the coffee shop and he knows he’s definitely gay. Rachel, unlike any girl I’ve ever known, takes this as a grand experience instead of letting it weigh on her self-esteem. It’s unrealistic, but good for her. I do wish they would have given more attention to Blaine throughout all this; the question of bi-sexuality is a heavy piece of plot that I think deserved a little more care but at least they weren’t completely insensitive with it.
The one thing I took away from all of this was how much of a brat Kurt is. Let me preface this all by saying I actually really like Kurt, I like that the show is giving a voice to a struggle that many teens go through, and I was overjoyed to see Chris Colfer win his Golden Globe for playing Kurt, but he’s still a bratty teenager. His reactions to Blaine and Rachel are so selfish and he turns his father's rules about boys sleeping over into an issue about his sexuality; he takes absolutely EVERYTHING as a direct attack on his lifestyle and the fact is a lot of it has nothing to do with him or the fact that he's gay. This is where I give Glee some points because that is 100 percent a realistic teen trait.
“I really believed that some of you guys were drunk!” –Schue
“We take our craft serious.” –Artie
Of course, the day after the party the entire glee club shows up to school hung over in matching sunglasses? Gross. They’ve all become raging alcoholics and Artie breaks out the bloody marys in the hall so they can all feel well enough to sing “Blame It (On The Alcohol)” for Mr. Schue. They somehow all get drunk off a single thermos of bloodys and get to singing. I’ve never debated the group’s ability to bring something to any song (unless they’re rapping) and this song was no different, but it was just far too cheesy. Suddenly they’re in a rap video and Schue is smiling like it’s the best thing he’s ever seen. Pass.
Clearly, this isn’t cool for the Alcohol Awareness assembly, so they end up doing Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” instead. While I think this was probably my favorite performance of the episode, mainly because Brittany should lead up every performance with her pop star dance moves, it was ruined once again by the club’s affinity for daytime drinking (with a weird cocktail of leftover booze). Cue the purple puke.
“Yaaaay Happy Face. A plus. (Burp)” –Schue
With all this boozing going on, why shouldn’t the folks who can drink legally have some fun? Bieste takes Schue to a honky tonk bar where he gets wasted, rides a bull, and sings a surprisingly clear rendition of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer” with his teaching friend before they take cabs home and have a very important conversation about teen drinking. Can I just say these two need to go watch some drunk people in real life, because their “fake drunk” was AWFUL. All this beer and liquor leads to drunk paper grading and drunk dialing Emma – at least Schue thinks it’s Emma. This was fairly predictable. We all knew it would be Sue and not Emma and that Sue would use it to embarrass Schue. After the glee club throws up during “Tik Tok” and Figgins is dumb enough to assume it’s all theatrics to convince kids to stop drinking, Sue’s Grease-style public broadcast of Schue’s drunken voicemail still lands him in hot water. Figgins’ priest will help him out. Sorry, Schue.
Finally, he makes all the kids sign a contract saying they won’t drink until Nationals because he knows that kids will be kids. He also gives them all his cell phone number so they can call him to pick them up if they do mess up. Aww. (Of course, I think Santana’s just stoked she’d got a free DD whenever she needs him.) Like I said, this episode had its moments, but this show is taking a serious beating and it needs some work. Please, writers, STEP UP YOUR GAME.