‘The Glee Project’ Recap: ‘It Sticks to Every Part of Your Body’

ALTAnother Tuesday, another Glee Project. And this week’s theme is fearlessness. Fearlessness on The Glee Project, it should be noted, is synonymous with confidence. I guess it’s to be expected in a show whose endgame is a cuddly, share your feelings, hug it out and do a trust fall-type program, but I was hoping for some more actual fear. Like, some Fear Factor challenges or scary masks or snakes on a plane or something. But instead we got bathing suits and slushies (the horror!). But we’ll get to that.

Fearlessness week started off with a bang — and a healthy dose of butt shaking — as the contenders put their rapping skillz to the test with “Now That We Found Love” by Heavy D & The Boyz. A little gem from Abraham to kick things off, “I’m Asian. I don’t know if Asians are supposed to be rappers.” I don’t know either, Abe, but I’m guessing we’re about to find out.

Er, not so much. Clearly we don’t have an Artie (Glee’s resident rapper extraordinaire) in the bunch. Never have I ever seen so many muddled lyrics in a single performance. Oh wait, I forgot about my seventh grade summer camp production of West Side Story; but outside of that, this takes the cake. But spirits were helium-level high and, for (maybe) the first time this season, we got a glimpse of the contenders acting like real, honest-to-goodness teenagers messing around. I kind of dug it. You know who also dug it? Jane Lynch.

That’s right, folks, the super secret surprise mentor/judge this week is the one, the only, Sue Sylvester in the flesh, Ms. Jane Lynch. I sincerely love this woman. Like, OMG, I couldn’t wipe the cheesiest of grins off my face the entire time she was onscreen. On a scale of one to cheese, my smile ranked a full wheel of Gouda (whoa, so cheesy, right?). “I’m surging with caffeine and fear,” she says, and I’m in stiches on the floor. “Keep in mind, I will be judging you harshly,” she says, and I’m nodding like a Baptist congregation during the sermon. On Easter.

But in all seriousness, Jane Lynch should be a permanent fixture on this show. She brings a level of professionalism and sincerity to her critiques that I think has been lacking thus far in the series’ guest mentors. The younger Glee cast members are great, and lord knows I love Cory Monteith and Naya Rivera as much as the next kid, but they don’t really project wisdom and experience as much as showmanship. When Jane Lynch gives advice to the newbs, it is 100 percent obvious that her words stem from an open, personal place and are supported by decades in the business.

Jane’s pick for the head of the class is Lily, who showed confidence fearlessness in her performance by demanding attention and having fun with the material. Lily is so stoked, she can’t even believe it. Aylin, who was named runner-up, is a bit bitter. Chill out, lady, today’s not your day. During Lily’s happy dance to the camera, I notice for the first time that homegirl is from Cape Cod. Represent! I am myself from Massachusetts’ fair shore (shout out to MV), so of course now I love Lily more than everyone. Sorry Nellie, Lily’s my new favorite.

Jane Lynch now has the pleasure of announcing the music for this week’s video shoot. In true Glee fashion, it’s another mash-up: Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and Blondie’s “One Way or Another.” And, just when you thought we were done with adaptability week, she throws in a twist. Everyone will get his or her first face full of slushie during the shoot. Oh, and one more thing, everyone will be wearing bathing suits. Womp. Welcome to every teenager’s nightmare.

NEXT: So much for “just friends.”

Before we dive right in to the pool shoot, we’re treated to a little glimpse of the ongoing Aylin/Charlie telenovela. So much for “just friends” — these crazy kids can’t keep their hands off each other! There’s really nothing like young(ish) love blooming in the face of great(ish) adversity. I’m a little worried for Charlie, though. When Aylin’s around he has a difficult time keeping his head in the game. This is about your career, boy — let’s try to stay focused for, like, five seconds.

And without further ado, it’s video shoot time. Neon slushies fly to a booming soundtrack of ‘80s rock as teen laughter ricochets off the indoor pool’s walls and all is joyous. All, that is, except for Ali. Ali wants her chance to get splashed with a slushie, but the mentor/judges aren’t so sure. Due to her paralysis, Ali isn’t able to defend herself from a slushie onslaught, and her body also reacts severely to extreme temperatures. In short, getting slushied could be dangerous. But Ali insists, and so the slushie assault begins. At first, things go great. Ali flips her hair and smiles through the barrage, bathing judges and assailants alike in the droplets of phosphorescent slushie juice that fly from her braids. Until, suddenly, things aren’t so fine. Ali’s lungs seize up and she has a hard time catching her breath. A look of real, genuine terror washes across her face and a heroic production assistant swoops in to take her away from the offending puddle and wrap her in towels.

Everyone, rightly so, is stricken. But Ali, always the professional, is trying to laugh through her pain — literally. She doesn’t want anyone to worry, and most certainly doesn’t want any of her friends to blame themselves for her reaction. She is the definition of class, this girl.

Let’s jump right to the bottom three reveal, shall we? Robert busts out a sports analogy and names Lily and Ali MVPs this week. No argument here. Also safe are Shanna, Blake, and Abraham. This leaves Michael, Charlie, Aylin, and Nellie on the chopping block. But, after a bit of a lecture, Michael is also called back. If you’ve been keeping track, this means the bottom three are Charlie (for like, the zillionth time), Aylin (who probably doesn’t actually deserve it, but the producers really want to pit the lovebirds against one another), and Nellie (who really needs to pull herself together if she’s going to win this thing like she’s supposed to).

NEXT: The bottom three!

– Aylin is up first singing Rihanna’s “Take a Bow.” She was great. We already know she can sing, but she also has an intuitive sense of how to tell a story with her song, rather than just sound pretty. Key Glee skills, right thur. It’s obvious from the mentor’s expressions that they loved every last second of Aylin’s performance. Ryan Murphy takes this opportunity to get serious with Aylin, though. “A leading lady is both strong and vulnerable,” Ryan says, and so far Aylin has been Giggles McGhee instead. She needs to focus, tone things down a bit, and learn that there is a time and a place for silliness — neither of which are on his set.

– Next, loverboy Charlie singing Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual.” Charlie has never heard this song before. Don’t you know anything about music, Charlie? Listen to some. During his performance, Charlie gets ca-razy and runs into the audience to properly serenade the judges. He personalizes the lyrics and just about charms the pants off of every last one of the mentor/judges. I, however, am just waiting for the crash following the high. He is so dang manic! Ryan Murphy is on fire with his critiques this week. He notes (rightly so), that while it’s obvious that Charlie is a great performer, they need to know that he can be successful during the process. Filming a TV show is work, not funny business.

– Last up, pretty Nellie sings “If I Were a Boy” by Beyoncé. On a personal level, I’ve never really understood this song. But that’s neither here nor there, because Nellie sure seems to get it. Her performance is an emotionally charged well of goodness. Zach Woodlee, bless his soul, tears up while watching. Dayum, Nellie. Why don’t you know you’re so good? Zach, it turns out, feels the same way. “I’m done telling you how wonderful you are,” he says as Ryan Murphy nods along fervently. The judges’ biggest critique of Nellie — again, right on the nose — is that she needs to be confident in her abilities. Constant reassurance is exhausting.

As we cut to commercial following the last chance performances, I hope with all my might that the judges make the right decision and send Charlie home. It really seems like they’re leaning towards my girl Nellie, which really just wouldn’t be fair considering how many times (four, I believe) Charlie has been in the bottom. He’s just not getting better, folks.

The list is posted, and my faith is restored in humanity. Charlie gets the boot. His exit is the most tearful thus far, due to his budding relationship with Aylin. The two share an intense, yet firmly PG-rated kiss before Charlie Bit Me takes his final bow.

Now, before we go our separate ways, I think it’s high time I give The Glee Project a little tough love. The best parts of this show are the brief glimpses we get of the kids just hanging out, shooting the s**t and cracking jokes. But, due to the jam-packed nature of the show, those moments are few and far between. Producers, hear my plea: Cut something from the format of this show. Between the homework assignment, recording studio, video shoot, and final performances, there is hardly any time to get to know these contenders. Isn’t the whole point to make America love them and drive ratings to the flailing Glee by adding someone viewers already have a connection to to the cast? Yes, Abbey, that is exactly the point. In which case, we need to see more of who these contenders are. And we won’t get that from hearing them sing pop music in a pool. My advice? Slow things down, take out a few hurdles, and let us see the closed door conversations, the calls home, the underwear basketball games. To borrow from The Real World, let things get real. And with that, I’m out.

[Image Credit: Oxygen]

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