What is Sexy?
That is the question Glee tried to answer in last night’s episode, and by the end of the episode it never managed to fully embrace this question with any sort of substance. Instead it fell flat and ultimately was a very disposable hour of television. In some ways it seemed like Ryan Murphy and his team of talented hacks didn’t even know what “sexy” was themselves, and struggled to find a balance between embracing the topic and preaching about it. And once again, they decided to go more for the latter. So what went down in Glee last night?
Gwyneth Paltrow and her wicked one-liners were back with a vengeance, once again being fully utilized with several fun musical numbers and stole pretty much every single scene she was in. I would say though that her role was much better integrated in “The Substitute” than in this episode, where she was mostly forced upon the show to shake up some of the relationships in the show. And shaken they were; she helped Santana realize her feelings for Brittany, forced Emma and Uncle Jesse to realize that the real issue in their relationship isn’t their lack of sex, but Emma’s feelings for Will, and made sure Puck and Lauren never made a sex tape. Thank God for that. She was also back to make Will super-annoying again, who spent most of the episode just as confused as the writers (this episode was written by Brad Falchuk) were about the definition of sexy and was too preoccupied by the presence of Paltrow to care about the fact that Regionals are next week and they still don’t have a set list. Which is one of the biggest issues with this season of Glee; there is no continuity. It might have some recurring storylines, but none of them substantial enough to make me compelled to watch next week. Instead they create new storylines every week, hoping the audience buys into the very poor foundation built for these storylines and move on to the next Very Special Message Murphy wants the show to address.
My favorite part of the episode was probably Santana and Brittany, but even there I could feel the writers forcing the characters into an unnecessary position of drama that the show has done very little to earn. And that fact is only made more jarring by the time spent this season on other poorly developed storylines such as Quinn having feelings for Finn and Kurt still being over at Acceptance Narnia without ever giving way for new storyline developments being made. The last time we saw Santana and Brittany in any sort of romantic setting was way back in “Duets” and since then we’ve seen them in already established relationships. That being said I can’t complain too much about this storyline as it gave Naya Rivera some very good material, which despite the false pretenses, she nailed completely. That speaks to the valuable assets Glee has found in Rivera and Morris who consistently give out the funniest performances in the show, and last night managed to impress with unexpectedly poignant turns. Their performance of “Landslide” with Paltrow was ultimately one of the highlights of this uneven episode as it showed what Glee is still capable of doing, but rarely does any more, which is to use song as a way for these characters to express their true feelings, opposed to finding a popular song and hope that it fits, regardless of how out of place it might be.
The other storylines were less successful and meandered through the episode for the most part, never finding its real purpose besides being about the “sexy”. Here again, it was difficult for me to stay interested in the Emma/Uncle Jesse storyline as we haven’t seen him for 6 episodes and we all know their marriage is doing exactly what her relationship with Ken Tanaka did last season, which is to prolong the wait for the boring/hellish union of Emma and Will. All of which amounts to many a sigh in my head, though once again Paltrow was very effectively funny in her scenes with Emma.
Another one of the more random storylines of tonight was Blaine getting Burt to talk to Kurt about gay sex. Now, Burt has already been cemented as one of the most understanding TV fathers in history of time, but the show keeps going down this well of having Kurt question how comfortable his dad is with his sexual orientation, never resulting in anything more substantial than a mawkish scene where Burt tells him for the umpteenth time that “he loves him no matter who he is”. It is getting rather tiring, despite how good chemistry O’Malley and Colfer has in those scenes. Last week Kurt argued that his father needed to educate himself on the topic of gay sex, and this week however it is Kurt himself that is revealed to be less than educated about the ways of gay intercourse. And that was pretty much it. Like last week this storyline went nowhere, and felt like nothing more than a way for the show to preach some more about sex. There was however an interesting contrast between Santana and Brittany’s storyline where intimacy in ways of romance was missing, and Blaine and Kurt where the physics of love was the main issue. It could’ve been a very brave topic for the show to touch upon, but it ended up being pretty disposable stuff that would’ve been better off remaining in those pamphlets Burt gave Kurt.
As a whole the episode was as undercooked as an episode of Glee can be, without ever finding the right tone or voice for the issues it tried to deal with. I’m a firm believer that Glee should not try to force Public Service Announcements down the audience’s throats, and instead grow its stories more organically, but Murphy, Falchuk and Brennan are too lazy for that. Nevertheless, I was entertained throughout and it didn’t feel as downright emotionally manipulating as some other episodes this season have been. So here are some random notes for “Sexy”:
- I loved Paltrow telling Puck and Lauren that making a sex tape would make them guilty of child pornography.
- Why would Rachel be in the celibacy club again after being an advocate for safe sex last year?
- Very little Sue Sylvester this episode, probably for the best as she tends to take over the entire show with her groan-worthy antics at times. Love Jane Lynch, hate the material the show has given her.
- I know the show likes to draw its characters very broadly, but having Finn think you could get AIDS from a cucumber and Brittany believing that babies come from the stork felt like a bit of a stretch. While they both are pretty stupid kids, I have a hard time believing they would be that stupid, no matter how funny that might be for the show’s writers.
- The most groan-worthy line of the evening came from one Blaine Warbler: “Kurt is the most moral, compassionate person I’ve ever met.” Ugh, he left out “whiny, self-absorbed bitch” in that description.
- Here is my ranking of tonight’s songs:
“Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” – performed by Gwyneth Paltrow and New Directions
A fun number, even though it didn’t feel like it had anything to do with informing the kids about sex. It felt also overly auto-tuned, which is a given since this is Glee, and not an actual musical with integrity.
Performance: B+ Relevance to plot: B-
“Animal” – performed by Blaine and the rest of the Warblers
Once again the show struggled to integrate the Warblers into the episode and felt like a very irrelevant and ultimately creepy performance, only heightened by those horrifying grimaces Chris Colfer was forced to make.
Performance: D+ Relevance to plot: D-
“Kiss” - performed by Will and Paltrow.
It was primarily just okay, nothing incredibly noteworthy either way. It probably had the most expansive production values of the night and some might find that sexy, so that’s something. I guess.
Performance: C+ Relevance to plot: B-
“Landslide” – performed by Santana, Brittany and Paltrow
My favorite of the night was perhaps a bit bland, but Rivera and Morris killed it in that scene. It did what Glee does at its best, which is conveying emotion through song.
Performance: B Relevance to plot: A
“Afternoon Delight” – performed by the Celibacy Club
Ugh. Arrested Development owns that song.
Performance: F Relevance to plot: F
Episode grade: C-
So, what did you guys think of “Sexy”?