This Week on "Glee": The Girl with the Jewish Nose
For weeks, the internet and TV promos have been abuzz about the "ground-breaking" episode of this weeks's "Glee"; so, I had some sort of expectation going in. It's "Glee," we're talking about here, so I wasn't expecting much, but I was expecting something semi-climactic. Lord knows why I get my hopes up with this show. This week's episode was a 90 minute episode that had nothing new or important to say than it had already said before. Bullying is bad, you have to look inside yourself and love who you are ... unless you're really messed up then you need to change so that way everyone can realize that they can obtain such a prestigious height of plastic.
Schuester attempts an untried concept of practicing to help prepare for Nationals. Because almost everyone is so inept at actually rehearsing things, Finn accidentally breaks Rachel's nose. The doctor declares it to be a clean break, though, but reminds her that she should probably get a nose job because that's what his Jewish daughters did when they turned 16. The 'all Jewish girls get a nose job joke' becomes a thread throughout the episode, which made me cringe. Again I have to wonder about my own sensitivities, but jokes about a bunch of teenagers getting nose jobs so they look, as Rachel put it, "less Hebraic" felt all kinds of weird. Ultimately after Rachel waffles back and forth between wanting to chop her nose up to look like Quinn's and maintaining true to her belief that she's the next Barbara Streisand, she decides that she should keep her nose, no matter what the naysayers have to say about it. The moral of that story was that, "Hey, who cares if you have a schnoz the size of a toucan and you poke hot guys in the eyes when you make out! You're a special snowflake, own it!" I get that the message was supposed to be empowering, but it also came with a seriously backhanded compliment. Of course the worst part was probably the fact that one of the tipping points for Rachel to keep her nose was because Finn said she was beautiful. It's obnoxious that Finn still has that hold over her and I just wish they'd quit it, but it seems like this show has a pattern of exalting terribly unhealthy relationships.
Finn still controls Rachel. He knows it, she knows it, and Quinn knows it. Rachel is just as guilty as emotionally manipulating Finn, but this episode he was clearly the bigger jerk about it. He didn't say to her, "Maybe you shouldn't get a nose job because you should respect who you are," he said she shouldn't get a nose job because he thought she was beautiful and he liked her that way. If he really cared about her, he should be more concerned about the fact that she has such a strong insecurity about herself and realize that she shouldn't be trying to change to make other people see her as beautiful. I have conflicting feelings about plastic surgery and in general think it's too over-used as a bandage for deeper insecurity issues, but I do think it can be helpful for some people. In Rachel's case, where she was trying to become a more standard definition of beautiful so that other people would think she was pretty, I think plastic surgery is not the way to go. In attempting to change herself to fit some ideal, she'll never feel beautiful because they ideal will always be changing.
Unless, of course, you turn yourself into Barbie, like Quinn did. Apparently, the creators thought it would be ridiculous to have Zizes use Quinn's pregnancy from last year against her in the Prom Queen race and made it so Quinn has the most ridiculously overused teen drama plot: pretty girl used to be ugly. Almost every teen movie or show has some character that is currently beautiful and is still dealing with the insecurities of being completely ostracized for their looks. In "Glee," a show known for it's over the top ridiculousness, even this cliche felt like too much. Quinn has gone through every reason in the book to explain why she's so nasty to so many people (I'm pregnant, I'm popular, people don't get me, I have to stick out for myself to get to the top, etc.), but the "I used to be ugly" excuse feels like a joke. But even more of a joke was the way that they handled it. Zizes put up pictures of Quinn as "Lucy Caboosey" and Quinn has a melt down while people laugh for about five minutes. After the initial joke wears off, Quinn is seen as a hero. Because everyone wants to be Barbie, dammit, and anyone who can crawl out from the filth of the common man is practically a saint. What the hell kind of message does that send? You may be a total dog now, but slap on some ProActiv and work your ass off with three extra curriculars and pray to God that your dad gets a raise so that they can fix your face, because maybe, just maybe, you too can aspire to the heights of Prom Queen with a boyfriend that will almost always ignore you. Yep, the American Dream. Thanks, "Glee," I'll always remember that Rachel may be talented and a special snowflake for keeping her nose, but Quinn will always be beautiful for getting hers fixed.
Finn, to be fair, isn't the only guy acting like a total knob to the women in his life, in fact when you compare him to a bigger jerk he doesn't seem so bad. Enter Will Schuester. Schue is apparently a licensed psychiatrist so he makes it his mission to fix Emma Pillsbury, despite the fact that half a season ago he was telling her how much he liked her eccentricities. Realizing that Emma is in a delicate state after her husband left her and she's regressed into stronger OCD tendencies, he decides to address the situation with the utmost sensitivity: by forcing unwashed fruit in her face and trying to make her eat it. Yes, Emma has a serious problem. Yes, she needs a lot of help. But being a total douche to her and trying to fix her so she fits more in line with what you want her to be, Will Schuester, is not helping. Thankfully, Emma takes Will's only decent piece of advice and sees a therapist, who, weirdly, prescribes her meds after a three minute conversation and shares with her, her own battles with mental illness. Maybe I'm just ignorant to common psychiatric practice, but I feel like they aren't usually so apt to share aspects from their personal life. Regardless, the therapist seems to be helpful and Emma starts taking some medication. She also wears the t-shirt Will wanted her to wear to make him happy, something else that pissed me off. Being ashamed of being a ginger isn't as revelatory as admitting you have OCD, but she has a real point when she says she doesn't feel comfortable sharing every aspect of her personal life with the kids. Schuester, however, is unfamiliar with the concept of teacher/student boundaries and declares that notion ridiculous.
So Will and Emma are in an unhealthy relationship. Quinn and Finn and Rachel are in an unhealthy relationship, surely there can't be anyone else. In fact there is one other couple I'm having serious issues with and that's Brittany and Santana, a fan favorite. There was one point where those girls were really cute together, but now they need to stay far away from each other, at least romantically. Santana concocts a plan to beard with Karofsky when she realizes he's gay so that she can win Prom Queen and he can be King. Figuring that she can use her royal powers to force Brittany into a relationship with her, Santana gets to work manipulating Karofsky. While Santana was pretty much amazing the rest of the episode, the way they've written her with Brittany is really worrisome. She's not content to just let Brittany chose the relationship she wants to be in and has to try and force her to be with her. Santana convinces Karofsky to make amends with Kurt so that Kurt can come back to the school and glee club and he agrees so that she won't out him. When Kurt becomes suspicious of Karofsky's apology, Karofsky admits that it was Santana's plan to have him apologize and start the awesomely named "Bully Whips." This triangle between Kurt, Karofsky and Santana should be interesting and I'm actually hopefully to see how this plays out considering that all three of them handled their scenes exceptionally well. However, before Santana's plan can come to fruition, Brittany approaches her with a t-shirt that says "Lebanese," which is meant to be "lesbian." Santana freaks out at Brittany because she has no right to control her life, which is true, but Brittany sees nothing wrong with trying to dictate someone's relationship that she's not a part of. As much as I like the two of them, I think they work better separately. Unless the two of them can start a relationship from a healthy place without manipulation, they should probably just stay friends.
Santana did end up wearing the t-shirt, though, but she didn't perform the number, which was a bizarre mash-up of even more conflicting messages. Schue told the club that they should all wear t-shirts with things about them that they're ashamed of, or have trouble accepting about themselves. Rachel put "nose" which made sense in the context of the episode, but that was about it. Mercedes had a shirt that read "No Weave!" which seemed more like something she was proud of and Zizes had a "Bad Attitude" shirt which isn't something she was born with and also seems like a badge of honor. And then Kurt had a shirt that read "Likes Boys," which thoroughly confused me. Kurt had about an episode where he struggled with his sexuality, but that was last season and he's been out for over a year. The shirt didn't make sense and it was weird to see it up there with "Butt Chin."
Although, to be fair, the whole song was a little weird. It was nice to hear Tina sing lead and the kids did a good job overall with "Born This Way," but they did cut out "no matter gay straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life," which is kind of the whole point of the song. Much like it was strange for them to cut out transvestite from Rocky Horror Picture Show, the song doesn't work without that verse.
What also doesn't work is a solo that stretches about twenty minutes long. Chris Colfer has a beautiful voice, but if they were hoping to use that song ("As If We Never Said Goodbye") as a deterrent to keep people from switching over to "The Voice," they probably failed. It was nice to let him sing a solo, but it just kept going on and on and had so many shots of his no teeth smile. It should have been cut down, but the whole episode could have been contained in a normal hour-long block had they only let it. Also awkward was Blaine's singing "Somewhere Only We Know" to Kurt. How did no one in a high school start laughing at the impromptu piano? Seriously, at my school kids would have been rolling on the ground at the sight of the string players. It was too much and came off as less romantic and more hilarious.
I know Finn's song and dance routine to "I've Gotta Be Me" was supposed to be funny, but it was just flat. The show could have been trimmed down a lot and this was a number that could have been easily nixed. It's fun to watch Mike Chang dance, but the number just felt like a time waster, especially since it followed a much better performance.
The "Unpretty" and "I Feel Pretty" medley may have been my favorite that they've done. A lot of times the show misses the mark with mash-ups, but this one was phenomenal and outshone they ending number. I like both songs a lot and I was surprised about how well both girls sung the songs. Rachel showed the appropriate amount of restraint while still mixing in some emotion and Quinn's very simple pop vocals just all seemed to work perfectly together. Lea Michele has a lot of talent, but usually her duets become a sing-off, which doesn't work out as well for her. By working with Diana Agron on this song rather than against her, the whole thing worked beautifully.
Unfortunately, by the end of the episode I had almost forgotten I had enjoyed the song. This week's story seemed to drag on and rather than provide a huge jaw-dropping moment that would be fitting for a 90 minute episode, the same message we've heard a thousand times was just stretched out. There's an inherent problem with doing a "very special episode" on a show that already does "very special episodes" almost every single week, the audience expects something completely amazing and is left completely underwhelmed. Was this week's episode as bad as last week's? Not technically. But because it promised a show stopper and gave us the same routine just stretched out, this episode was probably more grating. I try and usually hope for something positive for the next week, but what I'd really like to see "Glee" do is show a modicum of restraint, but considering Sue will be dressed as David Bowie, it seems completely unrealistic.