I Want Channing Tatum to Stop Being in Things
Unless, of course, the Christmas special of a show happens to be an hour-long infomercial for a holiday album with boring and uninteresting storylines. "Glee" this week was worse than terrible: it was mediocre. The episode felt less like a midseason finale (the show doesn't come back until February) and more like those awkward last day of classes before exams. Everyone is showing up because they have to, but no one really wants to put their heart into it.
A constant source of frustration for me on the show seems to be the bungling of relationships. It wouldn't be an episode of "Glee" without Rachel trying to convince Finn that he loves her. A week after Rachel cheats on Finn, she decides that it's time that he forgive her, because that's how forgiveness works when you're used to manipulating people into getting what you want. Are people actually rooting for this couple to get together? I'm genuinely curious because I know, in general, the audience is supposed to support the main couple, but Rachel and Finn just don't work together at all. He has his own issues to deal with and she needs to learn that you cannot force someone into being in love with you. Finn in the middle of the episode officially declared their break up as official, but by the end of the episode, he was looking at her with those puppy dog eyes again. Again the show's conflict feels forced and they've all but spelled it out to indicate that, despite all odds, those two crazy kids will get back together.
Speaking of unhealthy relationships I'm growing to dislike less and less, Artie really doesn't want a girlfriend. What he really wants is a puppy. The magic comb thing was tolerable, but encouraging Brittany's belief in Santa because he enjoys the fact that she's maintaining her childhood whimsy? That's just sad. Brittany may not be the brightest bulb in the box but at some point she deserves honesty. The storyline with Brittany and Bieste was fairly sweet, but Artie's roll as boyfriend is confusing the hell out of me. Are we to assume that Brittany has never heard once in her life that Santa isn't real? Or that, as a teenager she wouldn't be able to handle the truth? Of course, the Glee universe will stretch reality as far as possible, but at one point Brittany was just a dumb blonde and now she's to the point where I wonder if she ate paint chips as a kid. Guys who like dating someone with the mental capacity of an 8-year-old unnerve me and it bothered me that Artie worked so hard to perpetuate such a ridiculous lie.
Maybe the only saving grace about the Artie and Brittany plot for this episode was the fact that Beiste once again got to show a little emotion. I was impressed with how honest Beiste was about sharing her own struggles with not getting what she wanted, but getting something better. It appeared, though, that Brittany didn't get the message of patience since Artie did end up getting the ability to walk with the aide of a high tech walker. Had the episode ended with the slow reveal that Beiste was the one who provided the present, the sap would have been so over-whelming that the episode may have worked for me, but instead of going for the sweet touch the show went over the top and let Sue act out the Grinch story in its entirety.
The Grinch was such a weak story arc for the episode. Sue works best when she's able to have her sweet moments in private and be a bitch in public, but instead her heart grew three sizes that day and she gave Will a Christmas Eve full of love and kindness! Had she just given the gifts quietly to the homeless shelter with her sister, the act would have felt more believable, but the show went the route that dictated that everything end on the most saccharine note you could imagine. Why are these kids even at Will's house on Christmas Eve, shouldn't they be with their families? Of course not, much like the mob, glee club is the family and they all stick together.
However, this episode was not about the magic of Christmas or everyone learning about the holiday spirit, this episode was about selling a Christmas album. More so than any other episode, the music in the Christmas special felt like it was just about setting up the songs for their iTunes release. "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year," sounded very pretty and was a sweet little pop song about not really fitting in, but it was so off from the original Island of Misfit Toys that it just ended up being an obnoxious number. The spoken word interlude was so poorly done that they should have left it out.
The two carolling songs were very sweet, though. "We Need a Little Christmas" and "Welcome, Christmas" exhibited the lovely vocal talents of the group. The first song was funny for its brevity and shoe flinging but the second was annoying for their choice of hitting up teachers for money. Hey, glee club, teachers are broke, they don't need you begging for money to help improve their Christmas spirit. Why not take that energy to a homeless shelter and perform and volunteer for the people there? Right, because then Sue wouldn't have been able to finish her ridiculous Grinch arc.
Sue's song (performed by k.d. lang), "You're a mean one, Sue the Grinch" felt a little out of place because it had a non-cast member perform the vocals. It was not a terrible choice since lang is a great performer, but it felt so different from the rest of the performances to have some unknown narrator singing the song.
"Last Christmas" was awkward, but everytime Finn and Rachel perform together, whether singing or not, I can't help but notice their lack of chemistry. The two of them sang it well-enough together, but it felt so boring. That song fit with Rachel's performance of "Merry Christmas, Darling" in that it was expected and could have been left out of the episode. A week after going through a whole shpeil about letting other people have the spotlight, the show goes right back to giving the bland people all the glory. Lea Michele is incredibly talented and we already know it, but the more she performs solos the less I want to hear her considering how everything pretty much sounds the same after a while.
The best song of the night went to the out-of-place "Baby, it's Cold Outside." Having no real reason for Kurt and Blaine to be in the episode the show just cuts to them and it was worth it. Criss and Colfer have great chemistry together and they've developed the relationship between Kurt and Blaine extremely well. It was such a fun song and I enjoyed hearing the two of them sing it together so much that I almost forgot how boring the rest of the episode was.
Charming, fun, sweet and magical moments, like the duet between Kurt and Blaine, are what Christmas episodes should be made of. Yes, most specials are formulaic, but so is Christmas; we know there will be presents but we're always surprised never the less. It's a shame that the rest of the episode could not be bothered to capture the whimsy shared between Kurt and Blaine and instead decided to highlight more of the same with the overdone styling of Finn and Rachel.