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Glee: Theatricality

Finn: "Don't you get it? ... We live in Ohio. Not New York or San Francisco or some other city where people eat vegetables that aren't fried."

I knew it was too much to hope for another smashing success like "The Power of Madonna", but man - "Theatricality" was just a mess. And not in a Lindsay-Lohan-entertaining hot mess kind of way.

"Theatricality" was just completely disjointed. Like Will Schuester at the end, the writers had no idea what was the point of this episode, or this assignment. It felt a long Gaga promo mated with a bad Afterschool Special. The thing is, at least Gaga and Afterschool Specials are generally entertaining. This one was just weirdly depressing.

Unlike some other fans of the show, I generally don't mind when Glee is plot-lite, either being a thinly veiled vehicle to go from one song to the next, or just letting the music tell the story. The problem was, almost none of the songs had any relevancy to the plot, or added much to the story - the one exception being the odd-but-impressive acoustic version of "Poker Face" sung by Shelby and Rachel.

On top of which, half the time I felt like I had completely missed an episode, or an entire significant plot development. Did Jesse already go back to Vocal Adrenaline? If not, where was he? (It was hard to tell since they were covered in red Chantilly lace.) How did a tape get Rachel to "go to" Shelby? That whole thing would have made more sense if Shelby/Jesse planted the Gaga clues so that Rachel would go check it out. And why does a house with 2 and 1/2 bathrooms only have 1 bedroom and a basement? What kind of stupid parent would ask their teenage child to share a room with another teenager? Most kids stop sharing rooms when they're 10.

Honestly, I was really, really looking forward to tonight's Glee after the string of epic season/series enders. Lost, Fringe, Grey's Anatomy - even Chuck! - were emotional roller coasters that had me bawling the better part of the last two weeks; I thought Glee would be a nice, absurd palate mental break. Plus, after that Lost finale, the last thing I wanted to do was THINK! Ask questions! Be confused! Honestly, I should never have to think when it comes to Glee. That's like asking to find political commentary in a Britney Spears song.

OK, my rant is done. My head hurts. On to the scoring...

The Good:

-- Figgin's fear of vampires, bookended by Tina's fake out at the end, was classic absurdist Glee. Plus 5. Another +1 for lady demon clothes.

-- The Team Edward attack on poor Jacob (haha, get it?) was awesome - plus 3. I have yet to understand the allure of Rob Pattinson.

-- Finn using a red vinyl shower curtain for his Gaga costume. Plus 1 for the costume, plus another 1 for his delivery.

-- Any scene involving Kurt and Burt dealing with Kurt's sexuality gets a +5. It's shameless and lazy emotional manipulation on the writers' part, but it's still honest and touching.

-- Plus 10 for "Poker Face". You know me, I'm a sucker for Glee-interpreted numbers.

-- I hate KISS, but I'll give +2 to Puck looking very, very hot in KISSwear and his whore lips.

-- Plus 2 for a nice conversation between Shue and Shelby.

-- Plus 1 for the shout out to San Francisco. Also because its true (and sad) that "vegetarian" food outside of my beloved SF and NY consists of steamed broccoli and french fries.

-- Even though it was very awkwardly portrayed, Finn's uncomfortableness with Kurt is very real. He can be fine with Kurt being gay when they are friends, but a lot less so if it starts getting personal. Plus 10.

-- Total: 41

The Bad (I won't even bother calling it Not So Good this week)

-- Um, plot? Point? Minus, like, 50.

-- That's it? In one episode, Shelby decides she doesn't want to be Rachel's mom? It took more time to set up the whole thing. I didn't need it to be magically happy - wanting something, and actually having it are two very different things, and it is hard to go from baby to teenage girl. But if this is the end of that story, I'm going to tie up Ryan Murphy with Christmas lights and stuff Kermits down his throat. Minus another 50.

-- "Funny Girl" was nice, and yes, Idina Menzel is fabulously talented. But how did it demonstrate theatricality? Minus 2.

-- The blatant Gaga worship was kind of ridiculous. I totally love Gaga, believe me, but it was like a Gaga commercial - minus 5.

-- Oh, and they ruined "Bad Romance" for me. Some songs should not be remade unless they're going to do something novel with it. I appreciate Gaga's voice so much more now (although I was excited to hear Santana sing again). Minus 3.

-- NO. MORE. KISS. EVER. Minus 5.

-- The kids wore those outfits to school all week? Really? No deductions, just a WTF moment.

-- Total: -115

Final Thoughts

I wonder how an episode like this will stand up to the test of time. That's the danger of incorporating pop culture references into any sort of show - they may be completely meaningless in 5 years. Lady Gaga may be hot right now - she may even still be hot in 10 years - but it's just not going to be as relevant as an homage to a cultural icon. Besides the fact that the Madonna episode had a theme that tied strongly with the artist's brand (and it wasn't a hot mess).

Bits 'n Pieces

-- Kurt: "She (Lady Gaga) changes her look faster than Brit changes sexual partners."
Brittany: "It's true."

-- Shelby: "Ladies, I don't want to hear about chafing. Just because you're being forced to wear metal underwear. Not my problem."

-- Tina: "I love wearing champagne bubbles — I get to express a whole different side of myself. Because even though I'm painfully shy and obsessed with death, I'm a really effervescent person."

-- Kurt: "Yeah, you don't want to be late for your appointment at Supercuts."
Nameless Annoying Football Player: "... And you know what, Fancy? You don't need an appointment at Supercuts. They love walk-ins."

-- Rachel: "My dads are moving my therapist into our spare room."

-- Tina: "My mom won't even let me watch Twilight. She says she thinks Kristen Stewart seems like a bitch."

I appreciate Joss so much more after "Theatricality". Glee was on a roll, up until tonight. 1 out of 4 Kermit dresses.


  1. Agree with you on this one. Only watched it a second time after first watching a soccer game.

  2. I actually really disagree for the first time. I agree that I don't understand Shelbe's decision but I thought that the Kurt/Burt/Finn scene was just incredible and wonderful.

    Plus the costumes were just perfect.

  3. I understand how the creators of this show really want to expose gay's rights. That's fine, but there's nothing wrong with Finn wanting to live in a room where he is comfortable. Kurt should know more than anyone to practice tolerance. Finn certainly did go overboard with the pejoratives, however, and deserved the reaming he got from Burt.

  4. I'm fairly certain that this episode was originally billed as episode 21, so I believe it was originally written to air after the next episode. I'm thinking that's why there was a sudden absence of Jesse and why some things were a bit abrupt (such as the Rachel/Shelby fallout).

    I do disagree though about the episode as a whole. I loved it. 'Bad Romance' was shaky during the Kurt parts, but Santana hit it out of the park and I'm glad she's getting more solos. The KISS song was fun to watch, especially with the girls jamming along, the 'Beth' number was fairly contrived, but again any number that showcases some of the lesser used talents, like Puck, are fine by me. 'Poker Face' was absolutely phenomenal as well.

    I think Shelby was demonstrating the second type of theatricality that she outlined - the small voice that shuts up a room and charms. I thought her performance was very captivating and charismatic, without being over the top (which balanced all of the crazy Gaga stuff).

    The Kurt/Burt/Finn scene was fantastic and I'm having trouble taking either side. Kurt has demonstrated a lot of stalker-like behaviors toward getting Finn into this position and in prowling him like he has lately, I'm glad Finn finally voiced how he felt. Now, it was an overreation and used totally uncalled for language, but it was a fantastic scene nonetheless.

    I really liked how Schu didn't have a big message. A lot of the past episodes have been Glee: An After School Special, and I'm glad that the ending didn't involve some big speech on his part about friendship and rainbows and love.

  5. I liked how they tackled Bad Romance. I think Kurt, Quinn and Santana really knocked it out but Rachel/Shelby were disastrous with Poker Face. Also if this was supposed to be a Gaga fest where the hell was Paparazzi, Telephone, Just Dance, etc?

    Finn can be an ass at times but I did like him taking a stand against those jocks with Kurt towards the end of the episode and the lack of Sue helped things but this was a weak episode.

  6. I really enjoyed this episode and found myself smiling alot. You didn't understand how Rachel found out it was Shelby - she heard her on the tape last week and when she heard Funny Girl she recognized the voice. Simple as that.

  7. All - thanks for your feedback. Great hearing from people. It seems like most of the blogosphere disagrees with me, so you guys are in the majority.

    I wanted to clarify a couple of things. I loved the Kurt storyline. I really liked the Rachel-Shelby storyline. I just thought the execution was poor.

    Last year, Glee dragged out the baby plots too long, and I think they are overcompensating the wrong way. Both storylines are emotional heavy hitters, and could have been mined for amazing acting and numbers. Devoting 1/2 an ep to each was not enough, for me.

    And again, the songs just didn't reflect the emotions of the characters. As I said, I don't mind if it's plot-lite, if the music tells the stories, conveys their emotions. Bad Romance could easily be my favorite song ever (not exaggerating), but was not suited for the situation. There are plenty of Gaga songs that could have been used to better effect.

    That's all :-)

  8. I liked this episode, too, but still agreed with a lot of what was in your review, Serena. Even though I really liked parts, and therefore liked the episode, it did feel rather disjointed.

    And the Rachel/Shelby thing felt very rushed. Not Rachel discovering her mother. I bought that completely, but Shelby's turn to "I can't do this" came too quickly. Almost immediately, in fact. I liked the ultimate explanations for why she and Rachel couldn't maintain the relationship (from both sides), but I don't feel like it was really earned after a "dramatically" staged discussion in the theater. It needed a bit more to get us to that point.

    And while I loved the Burt/Kurt/Finn scene, I also thought it was completely ridiculous that it only came about because the two had to share a room. A house with 2.5 baths would have at least 3 bedrooms, probably more like 4. Plot contrivance!

    I liked the Bad Romance number, but I've never heard the original (gasp!). I'm familiar with Lady Gaga as a personality, but not her music. So it worked for me. Especially Santana's parts. They really need to start using her more. She's got an amazing voice and I've loved the last few songs that have featured her.

    I also loved the last part with Tina threatening Figgins with her vampire dad. Hilarious!

  9. Serena,
    I totally see what you're saying about the plot line. As "Ask A Ninja" said about Pirates of the Carribean 2, it's like they took a whole lot of plot lines, shoved them into a shotgun and fired.

    However, the Kurt/Finn/Burt scene made me cry as did the last rescue scene, something Glee hasn't done in a while. And I went and got the songs from this episode, something I haven't done since the Home episode.

    I would have also loved for them to do 'Telephone'!

    Also, Serena, if you're ever in Portland, OR, we have some kickass vegetarian food. Shoot me an e-mail and I'll buy you the best chicken salad sub you've ever had. ;)

    Topher Darling

  10. BTW, I cannot believe I left off my favorite quote of the night: "Asian vampires as the most vicious of all the vampires."

  11. Damn i'm supposde to be a rock fan but the Gaga songs beat Kiss bit time in this episode. Too bad we didn't hear Paparazzi but my favorite two Gaga songs were included. :)

    As for Finn/Kurt: apart from the language he used i agree with Finn. Kurt is acting like a creepy stalker. Someone should call him out on it and soon.

    So they swapped ep 21 and 20 to get more ratings out of a Gaga episode during sweeps?

  12. Must say I am with Serena. Parts of this ep were good but as a whole? The whole plotline with Rachel and her mom went way too fast to be real. A bond is not formed in 2 dates, sorry.
    Their Pokerface was great tho. Didn't like the other Gaga song so much and had issues tying them to the plots. It felt like the plots were more written around the costumes :P
    Major props for the scene with Tina the vampire.. ehh daughter ;) and Riley in a showercurtain (but really, a bright red showercurtain? Who has those? lol)

    never thought I'd say this, but I missed Sue! where was she?
    (and now I am gonna wash my mouth with soap..or actually, fingers)

  13. Hey Great review Serena. Have to agree with you on most of the things you said. This episode was severely lacking an kind of point. And Sue (How great would it have been to see Sue recreate one of GaGa's videos? Sue doing Telephone would be hilarious.)

    I really didnt enjoy Bad Romance Poker Face. Bad Romance sounded exactly like the original. And Poker Face sounded exactly like the acoustic version that Lady GaGa performed (this one if you arent familiar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSO27ZqpM0Y)

  14. I dont agree with what you said about none pf the songs having relavace to the plot line or adding anything to it, i think Beth did and i think that was the best moment in the whole episode, with everything Puck said to quinn


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