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This Week, the "Glee" Kids Get All Up in the Bieber

By Katelyn Anne | TV | February 17, 2011 |

By Katelyn Anne | TV | February 17, 2011 |

After a pretty bangarang week at McKinley High, we got something that felt way too much like deja vu. Hasn’t Sue already wriggled her way into the Glee club to screw everything up? Haven’t we already seen Mercedes and Rachel try to one up one another? And how many times will Schuester require the group to sing some type of theme and not actually give them specific requirements? Seriously, Schuester, I don’t care how many kids currently listen to Justin Bieber, none of his songs are even loosely defined as anthems. Well, of his songs that I’m aware of, anyway; that Canadian toddler could have gobs of anthems making up the rest of his tracks, but I wouldn’t have any clue.

I suppose that’s the problem with episodes of “Glee” at this point, just a season and a half in. When it started, the show felt like a satire of the media portrayals of what high school should be. It felt like a show for those already removed from their high school years who were never quite enchanted with what were supposed to be the best years of their lives. But “Glee,” because of its infectious zeal for all things musical theater, tended to attract those who weren’t as far removed from the melodrama that comes from being in high school. The show attracted those who didn’t see the stories as caricatures but rather mirrors of their own lives. In short, it attracted young and fanatical tweeners and teens. And “Glee,” appealing to that fan base, has decided to work in a Justin Bieber tribute without any trace of irony.

If I’m being completely fair, though, most of the characters in Glee are sixteenish and while Bieber songs may fit better with the 12-year-old demographic, it is age appropriate that some of the girls would be into him. Aside from that aspect, it doesn’t exactly make sense that Sam would decide the best way to win back Quinn’s attentions would be to impress her with his Bieber stylings. Pro-tip: if your girlfriend can’t bother to pay attention to you and is debating about whether to go on a date with you or see if something better might come along, you may want to rethink why you’re trying to impress her. But after a thorough combing, Sam is ready to debut his act to the Glee club after a successful and cute bat mitzvah performance. The Glee club girls manage to embarrass themselves over the song more than the girls from the party and the glee club guys decide they need to exploit that kind of energy. Most of the girls are unable to see any of this behavior as pandering and eat up the Bieber experience. Quinn remembers that she likes that Sam is a total dork and swoons over his new act, which makes Finn wear a sweatshirt for about five minutes to prove how earnest he is about winning back Quinn.

Quinn must have the relationship attention span of a gnat because all of Finn’s antics seem juvenile now and all she wants is a fresh start with Sam. The problem with Quinn’s wish is the fact that Santana knows the gumball story is a lie. It’s hard not to hate on Santana for telling Sam the truth; sure she does it for her own personal gain, but at least she’s not treating Sam like he’s an idiot. Maybe it’s because she’s used to dealing with Brittany but Santana goes to Sam and tells him the truth about Quinn and Finn and then allows Sam to make up his own mind. Finally, Sam tells Quinn off and leaves her for Santana (or maybe just Santana’s rack, it seems like that’s all she was really offering to him). Ignoring the fact that another character in “Glee” decided to go into one relationship much too quickly after the last, it wasn’t terrible seeing the world’s most bland couple break up. Sam and Quinn were cute, but Quinn is working through some serious relationship issues that she needs to get resolved. Who knows if she’ll work through her issues; at the season’s opener she was all about trying to find her own space and then two minutes after meeting Sam she’s right in his arms. I want to like Quinn, but she ends up annoying me with her constant boy issues.

Sue was another character who frustrated me in the episode. She had great one-liners, as usual, but pulled the same tricks she always does. Sue’s gotten to the point where she’s reached Gargamel levels of insanity when it comes to destroying her enemy. Once again she’s trying to break apart New Directions from the inside, but this time she does it while also making light of suicide. Her feeble attempt to schism the club was to try and have Mercedes and Rachel pitted against each other, a feud that lasted about as long as Quinn’s feelings for one of her boyfriends. Will sees that Sue is not happy with the current togetherness of Glee club and takes her to the hospital with him for his monthly visit. In one of the sweetess moments of the series, Will and Sue sing “This Little Light of Mine” with the children in the cancer ward. It may have been a non sequitor for the rest of the episode, but it was really lovely and maybe my favorite part. At the end of the episode though, it’s revealed that Sue has decided to get Will back by coaching Aural Intensity. It’s never explained why Cheyenne Jackson’s character is gone or why a faculty member from another school would be allowed to teach at another school, of course, it’s never explained if Sue teaches anything more than cheerleading, but that’s all beside the point. The big set up now is that Sue and Will will now be sparring off for regionals and we’re supposed to be surprised by the winner.

In a throwaway subplot to the episode, Rachel paid Brittany to start a trend on her behalf to help revitalize her comeback. Rachel’s delusion about her standing in the school is kind of sad and it was downright tragic to see Brittany put Rachel in her place. When the girl who never learned how to read a calendar knows more about your social status than you, you may be in trouble. It was a little sad to watch Rachel deflate when she realized she wasn’t quite the special snowflake she thought she was, but then Finn gave her a speech about having faith in her to help them make original music for regionals and she was re-energized. Even though the episode was titled “Comeback” it didn’t really highlight Rachel’s comeback or what she was coming back from. She’s not Brittany Spears and she’s never had a melt-down. She’s just a type A personality who got dumped, but she’s not really changing anything about herself. At this point I’m over trying to care about Rachel. No matter how hard this show tries, it just doesn’t feel like they’ve hit the right balance with the character that I can invest some interest in her.

Sadly, I couldn’t care much about any of the musical numbers either. As mentioned earlier, Sam did some Justin Bieber tunes. His acoustic part of “Baby” wasn’t that bad, actually, but then he got into the pop mess and it just seemed ridiculous. The girls were screaming like extras in a Beatles video and his dancing was just ok. Chord Overstreet has a much more developed voice than Bieber (because he’s not 12) and the vocals didn’t sound as grating as I worried they might, but overall it was unimpressive. Worse still was “Somebody to Love,” which most of the guys sang. Artie sang lead vocals for whatever reason and the chalk dust explosions looked ridiculous. The whole thing was a mess and I could barely enjoy the hilarity of Puck having bangs attached to his hoodie.

Unfortunately Lauren’s song “I know What Boys Like,” wasn’t any more interesting. In defense of the performance, it’s not really a song known for it’s vocals and it was cute to see the cast in their underwear (especially Sue in a catsuit and Finn in a Power Rangers shirt). The song was kind of silly though and a lackluster debut for a solo. I’m not sure if Zizes can really sing, though, so they could just be over-compensating, but with as much as they auto-tune the people with talent, you’d think it wouldn’t hurt anyone else.

“Take Me or Leave Me” was the best number of the night. Mercedes dominated the duet, but Rachel was great, too. Both girls are extremely talented, but Amber Riley has the ability to make it look like she’s not trying so hard. Lea Michele, while extremely talented, just seems to be screaming: “Love my talent!” She does seem to be better about restraining herself, but in a duet it’s hard not to compare her to her singing partner.

The lumberjack song wasn’t half bad, either. “SING” is an actual anthem so it’s being considered for regionals, but with Sue moving to Aural Intensity it seems doubtful that it will make the cut. It was nice to see Sue with the New Directions kids, but the outfits were ridiculous. It could have done without the intro from Finn and Rachel, but it was a good song if not forgettable.

“Glee” has a tendency to fallback on the same tricks for many of its episodes and that’s where it seems to fall the flat. At this point, most of its audience has embraced it’s over the top shenanigans and there’s momentum lost when they repeat the same storylines, especially when they’re half-assed. Next week it looks like the crew will be dealing with getting drunk and making it rain if the promos are anything to be believed, so hopefully the episode will be peppered with the brand of batshit that “Glee” does so well.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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