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Glee: Showmance

"If you quit the club, I'll let you touch my breasts."

I can't remember the last time I've been so excited about a show. From the moment Will Schuester pulled into McKinley High's parking lot with his "GLEE" license plate, I was grinning from ear to ear.

I admit, I was kind of nervous going into "Showmance". The nearly flawless pilot made Glee one of the most anticipated shows of the fall season. Was it just a fluke? Would it live up to the hype and frenzy intensified by the 2 month break? And, really, could anything top a high school musical rendition of "Rehab"?

Happily, I can say that "Showmance" was well worth the wait. There were so many laugh out loud moments that I don't even know where to start: The Celibacy Club ("If the balloon pops, the noise will make the angels cry"). Sue Sylvester's attempt to disband Glee because they used the Cheerios photocopier. Finn thinking about running over the mailman every time he tries not to ejaculate. The pamphlets in the guidance counselor's office ("So You Like To Throw Up").

I love Glee's wry take on high school stereotypes - I mean, do cheerleaders really wear their uniforms every day?!? - and I love its self deprecating tone, but what makes the show stand out from every other High-School-Sucks satire is its ability to balance comedy with true emotion and humanity.

For example, "Showmance" focused on *unrequited love - more specifically, Rachel's for Finn. In the pilot, she mentioned offhandedly that she expected them to become a couple, because "[you're] the hot male lead, and [I'm] the stunning young ingénue everyone roots for." When she said that, I snorted, and just wrote it off as another example of Rachel living in the fantasy, cliche musical in her head. In this episode, they expanded on her newfound boy crush, and in doing so, showed a vulnerability and humanity to Rachel that I didn't get in the pilot. Honestly, if it wasn't for her magnificent voice, *I* would be tempted to throw a slushee in her face. She was annoying, self absorbed, annoying, delusional, and did I mention annoying? Yet the hysterical lengths that she went through to get Finn to notice her - (a) trying to be bulimic, (b) joining the Celibacy Club, (c) staging an over-sexualized performance of "Push It" so he wouldn't have to face his fears - brought me closer to her as a character, especially when (d) she got her heart broken in the end.

I say *unrequited because, well, maybe it's not unrequited. Whether Finn kissed her because he's a 16 year old boy, or because he really does have feelings for her remains to be seen. What is nice about the development of this little love triangle is that the writers also showed Quinn's perspective. No high school / junior high show would be complete without the unrequited love. What's not so common is allowing the audience to see the other side. Quinn is a beautiful, popular cheerleader, as well as an expert negotiator ("Under the shirt?" "Over the bra."), and she's insecure about Rachel and her boyfriend. It's not easy to make a character both a cliche and a human being, yet the writers managed it with not only Quinn, but also Ken Tanaka, the overweight gym teacher that could have easily been a one-liner punching bag.

Which leads me to Terri. One of the complaints I had about the pilot was that she was such a one-dimensional caricature of the shrewish wife, demanding that Will give up teaching/Glee Club to support her Pottery Barn addiction, or work extra hours to buy a new house ("We can't buy a used house - it's not clean"). It was disappointing and cheap, using a shrill, unsympathetic character to show how Will and Emma are destined to be together. But this week, Terri showed that she really does love Will, as evidenced by her giving up her craft room so that Will didn't have to work extra hours. Yes, some will argue that she did it out of guilt, because she's not really pregnant, and that it's manipulative of her not to tell him. But I thought Jessalyn Gilsig did an excellent job of conveying her inner conflict, how scared she was of telling the truth, and how much she realized she didn't want him to leave her. It's easy to judge a TV character's actions, but I know that if I were in that situation, I'd be terrified of telling him the truth, especially after I'd used the baby to reach my own, selfish ends.

Of course, no review of Glee would be complete without talking about the mind-blowing musical numbers. Who didn't get goosebumps when Rachel sang "Take a Bow" at the end of the episode ... you could practically hear her heart breaking as she watched Finn and Quinn kiss. I thought Quinn's rendition of "Say a Little Prayer" with her cheerleader posse was appropriately cheesy. But it was Matt Morrison rapping "Gold Digger" with Terri in the new house that stole the show. ("We want pre-nup, we want pre-nup!")

Admittedly, I am a musical theatre geek - my friends and I used to burst into random song and dance walking across campus - so I'm going to have a little soft spot for any show about performing arts. But as "Showmance" proves, Glee is more than a good musical show. It's edgy and snarky, but it has heart; it's able make us laugh out loud at the absurdities of high school, while drawing characters that we can relate to, love, hate, sympathize with, and share their hopes, dreams and fears. It is not only able to seamlessly integrate performances into the plot - the Achilles heel of almost all musical shows and movies - but flaunts them in the face of critics with deliciously bold and inappropriate songs.

And again - Matt Morrison. "Gold Digger." Need I say more?

GLEEful Moments:

Finn and Quinn? Really?

Sue: "Iron tablet? Keeps your strength up while you're menstruating."
Will: "I don't menstruate."
Sue: "Neither do I."

Rachel (when caught trying to throw up): "I tried, I guess I don't have the gag reflex."
Emma: "One day when you're older, that will turn into an advantage."

"It's all about the teasing, and not about the pleasing." - Celibacy Club Girl's Power Motto

Pamphlets in Emma's Office:
- "Divorce - Why Your Parents Stopped Loving You"
- "I Can't Stop Touching Myself"
- "Wow, There's a Hair Down There!"

Music

"Le Freak" (not even sure this counts), performed by Glee Club

"Gold Digger" by Kanye West, performed by Will Schuester + Glee Club

"Say a Little Prayer" by Dionne Warwick, performed by Quinn + cheerleaders

"Push It" by Salt-n-Pepa, performed by Glee Club

"Take a Bow" by Rhianna, performed by Rachel

All in all, an excellent start to the season. If they keep this up, Glee will easily become one of my favorite shows of all time.

3 out of 4 crying angels.

8 comments:

  1. Welcome to the blog, Serena! This is a very nice review.

    And I absolutely agree with you about Gilsig's character, Terry. They really needed to make her more sympathetic because she was just so completely unlikeable in the pilot that there didn't seem to be any reason why Shue would ever marry her in the first place, much less stay married to her. It was the biggest weakness in a pilot that was practically perfect in every way.

    I love Jane Lynch so, so much. Everything she says makes me laugh.

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  2. Well this episode hasn't changed my opinion of Terry yet, but i think Acafellas might have.

    Will you review the Pilot? Will Glee have it's own page here on billiedoux.com?

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  3. Good review, and welcome.

    I agree that Rachel is annoying. I almost stopped watching because of it. Maybe they would make her more bearable in the future, or add another very sympathetic charecter.

    Thanks for the review.

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  4. I don't think it's wrong of my to like Rachel's Take A Bow more than the original. However, I do think it's slightly wrong of me to derive so much satisfaction from every single evil line that Jane Lynch came out with :-)

    Great review, I'm SO glad you guys decided to add Glee. Pretty much every series I watch is reviewed on this site now :-)

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  5. Patryk,

    Yes, Glee will have its own page on billiedoux.com. The other question -- it's up to Serena.

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  6. Welcome to the blog, Serena. Great first review. You actually made me reconsider my initial evaluation of this episode. I adore the musical numbers and Jane Lynch (deliciously evil, indeed --- you should consider adding a section just for her outrageous quotes!), but some of the typical teenage drama stuff made me want to turn the channel. Particularly the stuff with Rachel, Finn, and Quinn. (The less said about Terry, the better.) But you made me see these events in a slightly new light.

    Loved the bit about the pamphlets in Emma's office. I didn't notice most of them. Hilarious!

    Looking forward to your thoughts on Accafellas!

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  7. Hi everyone!

    Thanks for your comments. I'm glad ppl are enjoying the show as much as I am.

    Yes, I can write up a review of the Pilot, so Billie has the complete collection. I probably won't be able to get to it until this weekend though, as I will be putting up eps 3 and 4 this week.

    BTW, I heard that Glee got picked up for a full season - hooray!

    ReplyDelete

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