Glee's Christmas episode should have been worse than seeing your fat Aunt Fanny in her holiday sweater with reindeer on it. Yet it turned out to be a bright, shining gift under our tree. Praise the Baby Jesus.
It's no wonder that a Christmas episode hit Glee's sweet spot. More often than not they're gimmicky and don't really propel a show's story along. That has been this show's specialty all season and since there is tinsel and candy canes and Santa, we give the show a much wider berth than usual. There was a ton of music in the episode (gotta shill for that Christmas CD) so let's get right to it.
Of course they chose "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year," the number performed by the misfit toys in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special that every Christian child in this country has watched at least once. Glee club has always been about being a band of misfits, and it seems like they're finally reveling in the fact, with their pilfered Christmas tree, stolen gifts, and second-hand ornaments from a holiday hoarder who lives next to the school. The slushie facials have started again, and it was time to remind us just how unpopular these guys are. But even misfits love Christmas, but just like the misfit toys, they feel even more misfitier than usual because they don't fit into any of the traditional celebrations.
The misfitiest of all is Brittany, who still believes there is a Santa Claus and her loving boyfriend Artie wants to keep the myth alive with the help of his singing cohorts. They're all living vicariously through Brittany's child-like joy and trying to recapture that feeling of being young and waiting for Santa to show up with some magical deliveries. He hatches a plan to make this her best Christmas ever. And Brittany deserves it. Fuck Sue Motherfucking Sylvester, Brittany has been the most predictably hilarious character all season.
Babygay Kurt is going to be pissed that he missed singing "We Need a Little Christmas" from the Broadway show Mame (and of course the lousy movie version starring Lucille Ball). I totally sympathize with the dread the Glee club felt when Mr. Schue forced them to go caroling from class to class trying to raise money to buy toys for homeless kids. At my high school we had this Thanksgiving dinner thing during lunch every year and the school's show choir had to perform, and you could always tell that they would much rather be sitting at the cafeteria tables having some dry turkey with gravy, even though the brown viscous liquid had a serious skin on it. But in my school everyone tried to ignore them and then applauded politely when they were done, and they weren't a fraction as good as these quasi professionals. So we get that the kids hate it, but would they really say it out loud? And would any high schooler rather do just about anything rather than learn?
To get Brittany a little Christmas, Artie gets the whole crew to go see Santa (what they ask for was one of the many highlights of the hour) so that they can overhear what Brittany asks for and then get it to her from Santa so that her faith in Christmas stays alive. Of course she asks for Artie being able to walk. Wait, didn't we see this story line already? Didn't Artie get all excited about maybe getting to walk and then decide that he's accepted that he will never walk? Didn't that happen? Guess not.
I let out a spontaneous, "This is my jam!" when the opening strains to The Carpenters brilliant "Merry Christmas, Darling" came out of my television. One Christmas season I worked at a crappy store in Times Square for Christmas and this was the only good song that was on the constantly rotating holiday CD we were forced to listen to. Every two hours when it came on, I would queen out and sing along and it was the only highlight of my long, tedious days helping fat Floridians find just the perfect glass miniature Christmas tree to give their child's teacher. Rachel has a great voice and I was glad to hear her sing it, but she just didn't do Karen justice—but who can?
It's still so Rachel Barry to sing a sad Christmas song, one that is about a woman who is trying to have a great holiday season but can't because she isn't with the man she loves. Perfectly fitting for Rachel, who lost Finn because she's a selfish monster and made out with Puck. Though Rachel is a big ol' Jew, she's trying to get excited for Xmas because it is Finn's favorite holiday. She lures him to the auditorium to give him a gift (wrapped in blue and silver for Hanukkah, natch)—the gift of song. How Rachel Barry to give him a song of her choice as a gift. I hope she kept the receipt, because Finn takes off and leaves her alone and pining among the pine trees on stage.
Also having Christmas alone is Will, who divorced his wife, apparently doesn't have any other family, and turns down Emma's invitation to come to her house for Xmas Eve because he doesn't want to hang out with Dr. Karl, the hottest dentist ever on the face of the earth.
Just as some relationships are cooling down, others are heating up.
The most inspired number of the night was this all-male Babygay Kurt and Babygayforpay Blaine rendition of "Baby It's Cold Outside." Originally from the musical Neptune's Daughter (and sung by Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams as well as Red Skelton and Betty Garrett) it was later popularized by Dean Martin. It's a great Christmas standard (though not necessarily about the holiday) but is anyone else creeped out by the lyrics? Yes, it's sweet and playful, but it's tantamount to date rape. Traditionally the male is like, "You better stay girl," and she's like, "No I have to leave," and he's like, "I won't lend you a coat, and you can't go outside. Your choices are stay here while I try to paw on you or freeze to death trying to get home," and she's like, "You are such a total asshole. Please get your hand off of my breast." Right?
That's not the vibe we get from Kurt and Blaine though. Of course Kurt is in the passive lady's role (bottom) and Blaine is the pursuer, when just the opposite is true in real life (something mirrored in their final harmony when Kurt gets the low note and Blaine goes all high). Kurt makes it clear that he as an as-yet-unrequited crush on Blaine, but as he said, at least he's crushing on gay guys now, which is progress. It's such difficult territory to tread. As a Babygay you feel like you should get with the few gays at your disposal, not even thinking that you might not be each others' types or that there are more suitable mates out there in the world. That all changes the more and more homos you meet. But trying to make gay friends isn't necessarily easy. How many times have I had a crush on a boy and found out after a few meetings that he'd much rather go out to the bar with me to cruise other boys than be together. Maybe I should take those guys home and not let them leave my house until they put out? Anyway, it's a tough road to navigate and it's lined with many broken hearts, but also many beautiful friendships.
Mr. Schue shows up because he can't get his Secret Santa, Sue Motherfucking Sylvester, a robot dog or a soul for Christmas, so he needs BG Kurt's shopping expertise. Because, you know, only gays can shop. Oh, and Sue gets a ton of gifts because she rigged the Secret Santa so that everyone would have to buy for her. What a deliciously devious plot. When Will and the Bieste take her gifts back, they awaken the ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge which has possessed Sue Sylvester's soul.
When the episode started with Misfit Toys and then continued to this almost literal translation from scenes of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I thought that Glee was doing one of the things that it does best, a meta criticism of Chritsmas specials in general and that we would get a pastiche of familiar tropes from all the animated seasonal specials we loved growing up. Sadly, it turned into a way too literal translation of the Grinch story, replete with Brittany as a little Cindy Lou Who (much better than the movie version played by Taylor Momsen, however).
So Sue steals Christmas to keep everyone from else from having it, including the little orphans that the Glee club is trying to get toys for. How selfish, but that's Sue Sylvester for ya.
The kids are also trying to steal Christmas from Brittany, or at least mitigate her expectations so that she doesn't get sad when Santa can't make Artie walk. They convince The Bieste to break into Brittany's house and tell her that Santa just can't give her the gift that she wants.
Since Sue ruined their holidays for everyone Finn and Rachel have to go buy a tree.
Sad sack Christmas song number two for Rachel the Jewess. But naturally her gay dads played this Wham! hit for her. I bet they have a shrine to George Michael somewhere in their immaculately decorated home.
I was a little sad for Rachel during this scene. I also realized that the only couple on this show that has any real sexual chemistry is Babygay Kurt and Babygayforpay Blaine, but that's neither here nor there. She told Finn that last year she asked for him for Christmas (cause all Jews make Xmas lists), but within a year, she totally blew her shot with him by being an awful selfish monster. It's so hard for Rachel to change and she's trying to win Finn back by clutching up to him and warbling in his ear and he's just not buying it. Good, because it's going to take something drastic for Rachel to become a good person. So Finn dumps her for good and we hope she cried until New Years. Maybe that will do the trick.
Where I was really sad was when The Bieste sat Brittany down to talk to her about Santa Claus and how he can't always bring what kids ask for him. Glee is always best when dealing with the inner demons of people who are different, and finding ways to overcome them. The Bieste's fable of a brawny girl (probably Ricki Lake) who learned how to love and accept herself through patience is better than any It Gets Better video and this was possibly the first time I cried watching this show that had nothing to do with BG Kurt.
Even though Sue ruined Christmas for everyone Mr. Schue gave them a very rousing speech about trying to recapture the joy of Christmas. It was classic Glee looking at the world through a warped but rose-tinted lens. Then they went to sing.
"Welcome Christmas" is the second song cribbed directly from The Grinch and it's one of my favorite, twisted little carols. I wish they had chosen something from another special however, and deviated a little bit from the direct plot of their beloved source material. So this is the moment that Sue Sylvester's heart grew three sizes and she finds the joy of Christmas.
Then we find out that someone (Coach Bieste? Santa?) gave Artie some crazy contraption to walk again and Brittany's daffy concept of the world continues unmolested. But wait, didn't we decide last season that Artie didn't need to walk? Is every story about Artie going to be about his handicap? Now that we've done this story twice, can we not do it anymore? Aren't Artie and Brittany kind of the cutest couple you ever saw? Enough questions.
In classic Christmas episode style, we learn that the most important thing about the holidays isn't gifts or religion or family, it's that all the characters on the show find a way to be in the final scene together around a Christmas tree. And so Glee did. This was a nice diversion with just a little bit of forward plot development, but between the abundance of songs—and some of the strongest jokes of the season—I'm glad this was stuffed in my stocking.