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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Glee's "Blame It on the Alcohol" Needs to Blame Something


"Ke$ha has been a cultural icon for weeks and I really want to do her justice." ~ Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris)

     The best word that comes to mind to sum up last night's episode of FOX's Glee, entitled "Blame It on the Alcohol", is weird. That's Weird with a capital W. Don't get me wrong; I still enjoy it. There are some fantastic one-liners, as always. Santany and Artcedes - best nicknames ever, delivered in such a casual way. And Brittany's dance-led "Tik-Tok" is amazing, at least until the puke-fest at the end. I don't do vomit humor. But with our favorite glee clubbers suddenly showing a taste for alcohol, I was left wondering if what they were doing is true to the characters.

     I am under no delusions about teenage drinking. Although I didn't have my first sip until spring of my freshman year of college, I know plenty of kids do it much earlier. Probably even a majority. But as someone who participated in choir, band, and drama, those are the 'good' kids, the ones not getting plastered on the weekends. At least they were at my school, which is in Ohio by the way, where Glee is set. I can see the football players and cheerleaders in the group imbibing, of course. That's a basic, but very true, stereotype. But I am really surprised at how the rest of the group takes to it so quickly, and that Rachel (Lea Michele) seems to be the only first timer.

     That being said, most of the characters act exactly how fans of the show would expect them to with their inhibitions stripped away. Yeah, it may not be nice to call teenagers angry drunks or stripper drunks, but that's what some of them are, and our glee kids are no different. Embracing this with "Blame It" was a nice idea, but I wish it was a less boring song. Staging is great, music not so much.

     Now, before you rise up in arms, this is an anti-drinking episode, with a moderation or abstinence message. As mentioned before, a couple of singers end up vomiting during a song after doing shots before the performance. Lucky for them, Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba) assumes they are merely acting a role to discredit the practice. But there aren't actually any serious consequences for the drinking, and it feels a little odd that everyone, including Will (Matthew Morrison), who we'll get to in a minute, agrees to sign a sobriety pledge that will last until after Nationals.

     I do give the writers credit for putting together a scenario where the New Directions aren't more hated by their peers for performing at an alcohol awareness assembly. I assumed when it is announced that that's what they are doing, this will hurt their cool factor, which is already far too low. It was handled well, avoiding that pratfall.

"Blaine is the first in a long line of conflicted men that you will date that will later turn out to be only the most flaming of homosexuals." ~ Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer)

     Poor Rachel. Overall, this is a pretty good episode for the diva, as far as focus. She has plenty of disappointing things happen, and reacts to most of them appropriately. Though why she isn't upset about missing the Rosie cruise her dads are on, I can't imagine. Anyway, the only scene that really doesn't sit well with me as being realistic for her character is her performance of the original song, "My Headband". Rachel has more talent and taste than to write and sing something so trivial.

     Rachel's party best exemplifies who she is, more so than almost any scene in the series that I can think of. The atrocious dress, the dated den-with-a-karoke-stage, the wine coolers, the sparkling wine... all of it is perfect Rachel. Much of the elements feel like they were ripped from an old movie. So what? That's a great example of who she is.

     I even like her fascination with Blaine (Darren Criss). Everyone has known girls like Rachel, and they do often end up dating the gays who are trying to seem straight. Most of the time, they are oblivious to their mistake, as Rachel is. The fact that he goes for it with her can be explained away by his impaired condition. The "Don't You Want Me" duet is a long-anticipated pairing between two great singers I didn't even know I was waiting for. More, please! Even their date is acceptable, because plenty of teenagers question their sexuality. Those Blaine fans who are upset by the sequence, and I'm not just talking about Kurt, should try to remember that.

     In the end, though, Rachel gets a painful experience that she can milk a song out of it. As much as I detest "My Headband", I have a feeling that Rachel's next attempt will be oh so much better.

"I sat through that whole Brokeback Mountain. From what I gather, something went down in the tent." ~ Burt Hummel (Mike O'Malley)

     Previously, I dismissed Kurt's anger at Blaine trying bisexuality, but while I don't think that's a good reason to get mad, I do feel sorry for poor Kurt. While Blaine's wondering of who he is is natural, Kurt feeling rejected is, too. After all, Kurt recently found himself tossed aside in favor of another guy. Blaine favoring Rachel is pretty much the same thing. I don't think Kurt is upset that Blaine is thinking about a woman, per se, but rather, because Blaine is thinking romantically about anyone else besides Kurt at all.

     This may not be a popular stance, but I like the interaction between Burt and Kurt in this episode. Both raise such great points during their discussion of Blaine sleeping over. As a parent, Burt has every right to be upset when his gay son lets another gay guy sleep in his bed. Kurt's claim of homophobia at that comment is unwarranted. However, his later barb about wishing he could talk to his father about sex may have hit a little closer to home.

     Burt is a splendid father. He is very accepting, despite being polarly opposite Kurt. It is clear he truly accepts Kurt for who he is. But is accepting enough? Parents have to teach their children. Shouldn't Burt take it upon himself to educate himself, and then his son, about worldly issues? My best guess it that Burt hasn't thought of doing so until Kurt zings him, and will quickly correct the matter.

"Yay! Happy face. Valiant effort. You get an A+! That's how I roll." ~ Will Schuester, grading papers while drunk

     Is Will a good role model? When he talks to the glee club about the dangers of drinking, Quinn (Dianna Agron) tells him he is 'the pot calling the kettle black'. I disagree. The crazy time he has at the bar and his drunk dialing foibles are, indeed, in that category. But there are several important distinctions that make Quinn's accusation unfair. Number one, Will is of legal age. He takes a cab home. He does nothing that will get him in any trouble with the law. Number two, Will generally has a beer or two at the end of the night. He does not frequently get drunk. I think he sets a fine example the vast majority of the time, and the exceptions here are Sue's fault much more than Will's.

     Of course, Will has his share of problems. He goes to a country western bar because his friend Bieste (Dot-Marie Jones) is attempting to cheer him up. Will's divorce is going through, and his crush, Emma (Jayma Mays), is married. Will's problems are much more romance-related than alcohol driven. I don't know why Sue (Jane Lynch) gets it in her head otherwise, other than perhaps she drinks not at all. We've certainly never seen her drink. So perhaps she judges anyone who drinks even a bit.
     The chemistry between Bieste and Will is wonderful. I love their growing friendship. Without Emma, Will needs a friend, and as the new teacher, Bieste does, too. Not that they are using each other. It seems to me that Will connects with Bieste in a way that he doesn't with any other adult on the show. I am not advocating a romantic relationship between the two of them. Their interactions don't forecast that, in my opinion. But they are quite a pair, and I treasure every scene that they do together.

     Well, that's that. Another week of Glee analyzed. Sadly, the series is taking next week off, but it, and this column, will return in two weeks. In the meantime, download some Glee tunes from iTunes and pop a Glee DVD into the player, as I will surely be doing to avoid withdrawal.

     Glee airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. on FOX.


Article first published as TV Review: Glee's "Blame It on the Alcohol" Needs to Blame Something on Blogcritics.

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