Mash Off was the best episode of Glee I've seen in a while (including the initially disturbing but ultimately well done episode First Time last week). Stunning performances! An emotional plotline I could actually care about! Adele! Santana. In this week's visit to McKinley High, glee coaches Mr Schue and Shelby decide to try to turn the rivalry between their two clubs into something positive by organizing a "Mash Off" competition. However, Santana and Finn didn't get the memo about the friendliness of this competition. Meanwhile, Sue is launching a political smear campaign against Burt Hummel, and Puck tries to convince Shelby that they belong together.
Let's take it from the top, shall we?
Youtubing on Repeat
Two words: Adele mashup. Loves.
Glee's music was back on top form this week. The only subpar song in the bunch was the New Direction's mashup of I Can't Go For That and You Make My Dreams. Everything else rocked. I adore the Troubletones, since we get to hear Santana's gorgeous voice more, and I hope they don't disappear after sectionals. It will never happen, but I'd love them to win at sectionals and end up absorbing New Directions. Shelby actually knows how to direct a choir, and we get to be Finn-free.
The Outing of Santana Lopez
Santana. Oh, Santana. Someone give Naya Rivera an Emmy nomination for her performance this week. She is a stunning singer and a stunning actress, and the end of this episode was just shocking and emotional and perfect for destroying my heart strings.
I'm so happy that Glee has decided to continue to focus on Santana's relationship with Brittany, and her own conflicted feelings about her sexuality. I watch a lot of TV, and the only show I can recall with a serious lesbian relationship was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, almost 10 years ago now. Gay male characters, although still "controversial," are becoming fairly common in both cult and mainstream TV, and although that's important and hardly a sign that marginalization in the media is over, it's difficult to find any show that presents lesbianism as anything other than a joke (like Glee used to) or titillation for guys (like Game of Thrones), so kudos to the writers of this episode.
Kudos, as long as we're not supposed to side with Finn, of course. It was difficult to read the intention of the scenes, and whether we were supposed to side with Finn for finally cutting Santana down to size in the corridor, or whether we're supposed to see that, while Santana was being cruel, his reaction was entirely unacceptable. Considering that he has a gay brother and that he's seen how the persecution has hurt him, you'd think that Finn would be a little more under standing of the fact that shouting the equivalent, "Yeah, well, you're gay, why don't you just admit it?" in the corridor is not OK. While Santana was just spouting harmful nonsense, Finn not only hit her where he knew it would hurt, but announced something deeply personal and emotionally troublesome to Santana in public where other people could hear. She has been gradually coming to terms with her own feelings and slowly learning to admit, even to herself, what her emotions mean, but Finn just snatched that away from her, because, "nice guy" that he is, he has decided that she's been hiding in the closet for too long. He tells her that "the whole school knows, and nobody cares," but has "nobody cared" that Kurt is openly gay? Although Finn did not intend these massive consequences to happen, he has stolen Santana's agency from her, and made her feel like a victim of her own sexuality, instead of in control of it.
But as long as the show doesn't try to make us side with Finn (a perspective that I'm not sure I trust it to avoid), I think this is a provocative plotline that needs to be explored. And I can't wait to see more when Glee returns in two weeks.
Hot for Teacher, Not for Cheerleader
Why does this show do so well with portraying gay and lesbian relationships, but is completely unable to show a healthy relationship between straight teens? Do the writers think that they don't have enough inherent drama, so they have to spice it up? The relationship between Puck and Shelby makes me want to barf in several ways, not least because Shelby basically calls Quinn a "hot mess," while she is considering hooking up with her baby's natural father, who also happens to be one of her STUDENTS. Great decision making there, Shelby. Quinn doesn't need to sabotage her. She'll get into enough trouble with CPS on her own.
Not that Quinn deserves to get Beth back through underhand means. But it seems that we're supposed to see her simply as a "hot mess queen bitch," even though I feel incredibly sorry for her. Can we have a sensitive exploration of what it's like to give your child up for adoption as a sophomore in high school, please? Quinn's life is crumbling, and no one, not her cheerleader friends, not her family, not her coach, not the leader of the Glee Club, no one seems to be willing to help her out of her spiral or tell her that she is a worthwhile person. No wonder she is lashing out. And yet, while Santana gets a semi-sympathetic read of her cruel ways, Quinn is just presented as a caricature without any need for sympathy.
And speaking of caricatures...
It's Brittany, Bitch
I love Brittany, but there's some worrying stuff going on with her in recent episodes. She has become a complete caricature of herself, moving from someone who is quirky and makes strange, adorably misinformed comments to someone who is pretty much Too Dumb To Live. It makes all the jokes at her expense, particularly those about her own sexuality, become disturbing. It just appears to be exploitation played for laughs. A few weeks ago, a boy we're supposed to like was trying to trick her into sleeping with him by pretending to be a leprechaun. Now we have a girl who campaigned originally on the "Women need to lead" platform, but it got turned around into "I will make tornados illegal and show you my boobs." Something is not right here.
But I'm still playing that 300th song on repeat, so Glee did something right this week. It'll never be a perfect show. I don't think it'll ever be without a bit of offense. But when it tries, it does sometimes knock them out of the park.