Our favorite show about merry musical misfits was back with a new invention last night, or rather a reinvention designed to save their sagging reputations and rehabilitate a bunch of junky old songs in the process. They mostly succeeded.
The theme last night was public perception and how to correct it once things have spoiled Rachel, Kurt and the Gang (they should be a cover band), Emma, Will, Quinn, Puck, and even Sue Motherfucking Sylvester were trying to make things better for themselves after everyone in the school got the wrong impression. Brittany, well, she was just trying to escape an amoxicillin coma and find her way out of the rehearsal room. It's easier to change zip codes than to change what people think about you once they get the wrong idea cemented in their noggins, so it was an uphill battle. They had some cheesy old tunes to help them along the way.
"Ice Ice Baby": As Mr. Schue points out, this is the ultimate song with a bad reputation. As he started to rap, I know all of you at home were singing along. Even decades after this was a hit, the lyrics are still stuck in our head.s Why? Because it's a jam! Why else would it have become popular in the first place? It's a punchline now more for the man who sang it—with his made-up image, ill-fated turn as a movie star, and endless reality show recreations—than the actual track. There's no better amalgam for having a bad reputation. It's not about the content, it's about the vehicle.
However, I don't really see how the Glee gang recouped this song. It was pretty much just a straight rendition. You can't just take it back by doing it over again, you have to give it a new context or do something different to it to make it fun and fabulous. That is what I don't understand about the GList, which was a ranking of the kids in glee club based on the number or sexual acts they committed. First of all, why would anyone care about a list ranking the glee club, when no one even knows the names of the people in the club. Secondly, wouldn't such a list just make them think that they were all slutty and horrible not cool bad asses? Actually all the schemes to change perception last night were pretty whack, but at least the musical numbers were good.
"Can't Touch This": Oh, M.C. Hammer, don't hurt these kindly kids! The thing that babygay Kurt, Mercedes, Tina, and Artie can't touch is their outsider status. Based on how they look, who they are, or their differently-abledness (was that clunkily PC enough?) they are always going to be outcasts in the school. They're so inconsequential that they didn't even make the GList. How are they going to solve it? They're going to disrupt the library with a choreographed dance number. If there was ever a loser problem to a loser solution that is it. It's kind of sad that they thought this was their salvation and then when they went through with it, it didn't even work. Great outfits though.
Also having stupid ideas was Emma (who is experimenting with this new red, white, and blue Paris motif that we're rather enjoying). After some coaching—or rather manipulation—from Sue MF Sylvester (who knew she had her masters degree in counseling?) she goes into the lunch room and calls Will a manwhore in front of the whole staff. The only thing this is going to make people think is that, well, Will is a manwhore, and that Emma is a shrieking crazy person. But that's what you get for believing Sue MF Sylvester.
Now Will's reputation for playing around is set, and it looks like everyone thinks badly of him. Oh, except the brilliant Molly Shannon as Brenda Castle, the new pill-popping badminton coach who wants to take Will's shuttlecock out for a little game in the copy room. We can't wait to see what kind of terror she creates around school.
"Let's Get Physical": I'm sorry, but I have a hard time thinking anything but great things about this song and Miss Olivia Newton-John. This was a wonderfully self-referential cameo and the only thing it's going to do is make a whole new generation of people love her for being in on the joke. Also, this video is possibly the gayest thing ever created. I mean, "Let's Get Physical," naked guys doing choreography in workout gear, Glee, and Sue MF Sylvester? Doesn't get campier than that!
It was a highpoint for Sue too, who had to deal with slow-motion laughter for the first time in her career thanks to a YouTube video of her singing this song in her home. However, Olivia saw it and loved it (how could you not) and decided to redo the whole video. Everyone at the school then had to stop laughing at and pitying her and had to go back to cowering in fear of her vengeful wrath. Just the way she wants it. She was on a roll last night. Not only did she make a famous friend, but she also bent Emma to her will, got Principal Figgins to actually care about the stupid GList, and had a few touching scenes with her sister. The humanity that Jane Lynch gives to Sue in those scenes is a true and amazing as the hatred that she spills forth on everyone else. Don't go making her too human, though. She's so much easier to love as a cartoon!
"Run, Joey, Run": What a perfect song for Rachel, at 1975 David Geddes number (check out the amazing original video) that no one has ever heard of. Just like Rachel's boyfriend Jesse says, most people don't even realize she's around but those who do think she wears too many cat sweaters. And just like Rachel, this song is hard to love. It's silly, campy, and tries a bit too hard, but give it a good listen and you'll really love it. Thanks, Glee. This is one revival that we really like.
Rachel's video is better than the original, but it caused her way more trouble. We also don't get the logic behind it. Yeah, she thinks it will make her "musically promiscuous," but how is a video that she shows just for New Directions that no one else in school is going to see going to change her image at large? Rachel thinks that she needs to make everyone think she's a hussy. Why? We're not quite sure, but she does. She first enlists the help of Puck, who also wants everyone to think he's a horrible person, which he kind of is, but he looks oh so good doing it (him in a wife beater in this videos is almost too much beauty to behold).
When she finally debuts her masterpiece, she's in it with not only old flame Puck, but also current boyfriend Jesse and true love Finn. The part of the video where they're each walking down the hall was perfect and each of their personalities were revealed in their walk. Puck is confident and badass. Jesse is clipped and fussy. Finn is lumbering and disheveled. It's like they got everything about them into those few frames.
Of course this pisses all the boys off. They want to be the star of the Rachel show and don't like being lied to. Naturally Rachel didn't even think of this unexpected consequence. She's way too concerned about what the public is going to think about her to focus on how her actions are going to impact the people that are actually in her life. Knowing Rachel, she might have realized how upset Jesse would be about the video and would be glad to have heart broken. That would mean that she's a valid person and would give her another reason to create drama. So Rachel, making it all about her.
We're glad that Jesse totally calls her out for being a giant bitch because, well, someone has to. If what he said about her breaking his heart was true, then it's very sad. Still we think that Jesse is setting himself up to come out of the closet. Not only is he a little too fey for his own good, but his comment at the top of the show about "fluid sexuality" was a big clue.
"Total Eclipse of the Heart": This is one of the greatest songs ever written as far as I'm concerned. And if you don't believe me, just check out this masterful interpretation by New York performance artist gods Kiki & Herb. Rachel does a great job too, though the ballet class motif is a little soft for such a hard song. We included the entire number since stupid American Idol cut off the end again last night, again. You didn't miss much, but here are the last few seconds intact.
However this is the tale of a dangerous love affair—they're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks!—, which Rachel is definitely having with Jesse. I think that right now he has Rachel just where he wants her. She realizes that she dicked him over and treated him badly and he's walking away from her. She'll do anything to get him back, and he can manipulate her into doing something awful to the New Directions kids so that Vocal Adrenaline can win regionals. Trust me, people, this is how it's going to play out.
Will and Emma were throwing off sparks, but Will went with flowers and apologized to Emma and they made it all nice. I wasn't really paying attention because the most exciting things about their interactions these days is what sort of Gallic getup Emma has on.
The real person whose heart was eclipsed was Quinn. Cue the scene where Glee makes me cry. Will eventually figures out that Quinn made the GList because she wanted to regain some of her status in the school. Like she says her popularity, her friends, even her body has been turned against her and she wants it back. It has got to be hard to go from bitchy queen bee to pariah so quickly. The tumble downward is really humanizing Quinn. She was bitchy good fun as SMFS' second in command, but we like her even more as a real person who knows what it's like to lose it all.
Will is actually a real grown up for a bit and gives her some good counsel that she's going to get back everything she lost. That was just a white lie to get her through the day. She'll never regain her status or change her image, but we think she's going to be better off for it in the long run. Will keeps Quinn's secret about the GList so that she won't get thrown out of school. She's had enough shit heaped on her (mostly of her own making) she didn't need this too. Oh, those days of high school where everything seems so important and doomed. Don't worry, bright eyes, it always turns around...