Saturday, September 12, 2009

Glee 1.02: "Showmance"

“Now remember, if the balloon pops, the noise makes the angels cry.”


The highly anticipated first new episode of Glee since the Spring premiere dealt mostly with compromise. Some of our characters compromised what they wanted out of guilt or feeling like they had no alternative. Other characters compromised who they were in hopes that their crush would like them more. There were plenty of silly high school antics that took me back to my own time in high school. There were, also, plenty of things to nitpick. Overall, this episode of Glee packed in plenty of food for thought, fun, angst, and music- pretty much all I’d ask for out of this show.

The clearest examples of compromise happen between Will and Terri, surprisingly enough. Not so surprisingly, it’s Will who makes the first compromise. Terri’s sister has convinced Will and Terri that since they have a baby on the way, they need to buy a fancy house in her subdivision. Will knows they can’t afford it, but Terri and her sister insist. Will compromises by offering to look for extra work to help pay for it. Terri (sort of) compromises by only insisting on the grand foyer upgrade to the house instead of both the grand foyer and the sun nook. Will ends up taking on night shift janitorial work to help pay for it. Terri repeatedly says throughout this scene that the house is “their dream,” but I wonder if it’s really Will’s dream at all. In a plot twist with which I have serious issues, Terri finds out she isn’t really pregnant, but, at the last minute, she decides not to tell Will. To stave off her guilt, she makes her own compromise and tells Will they don’t need to move to the new, fancy house after all. This compromise redeems Terri somewhat, but not nearly enough to make up for the heinous thing she has done.

Emma ends up compromising by accepting a date with Ken the football coach, even though she’d much rather be with Will, because she finally comes to her senses and realizes that pining after a married man with a baby on the way is only going to lead to heartbreak. Rachel compromises herself in a sense by trying to act more like Finn’s girlfriend Quinn in the hopes of winning Finn’s affection. She goes to the Celibacy Club meeting that Quinn runs, and she also ends up running a Glee Club meeting much like Quinn runs a Celibacy Club meeting, complete with gavel. Rachel doesn’t completely compromise herself, however. She gets frustrated will Celibacy Club and tells the club members exactly what she thinks of abstinence-only sex education before storming out. She is rewarded with a kiss from Finn, but it’s short lived, as he goes running back to Quinn asking Rachel not to tell anyone what happened.

The Glee Club’s performance of “Push It” at the pep assembly took me back to my own high school days. Had something like that happened at my high school, we all would have gotten an “I’m very disappointed in you” speech from the principal over the PA system. I know this from experience! I guess all high schools have their offensive pep assemblies now and then. Another scene that is especially great satire of high school is when Emma catches Rachel trying to vomit in the toilet. First, it’s revealed that Rachel wasn’t the first one to use that toilet for that purpose that day. It sort of speaks to how image conscious the media trains young women to be these days. Second, when Emma brings Rachel into her office to talk about it, she has a collection of hilarious brochures for every occasion. The one she gave to Rachel was called “So You Like Throwing Up?”

I did, however, have some major issues with this episode. The first, surprisingly, was the music. It felt way overproduced in this episode. The biggest problem was that the lip sync wasn’t quite right. The mouths of the characters weren’t quite moving with the music. I know it’s possible to do good lip sync. There’s a great featurette on the “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog” DVD (highly recommended…it’s Emmy award-winning!) about the music in that production, and Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day both mention how they put a lot of effort into lip syncing properly. Felicia in particular mentioned that she paid close attention to how she phrased things in the recording studio so that it would look natural when she was lip syncing on camera. Natural-looking singing is possible in a situation like this! My other major problem this episode was just how unforgivable Terri’s lie was. It’s just such an unspeakably awful thing to make someone think they’re going to be a parent when they’re not. I like that her offer to compromise on their living arrangements gives her layers (she’s not completely heartless), but it’s not enough. I also don’t care that it came from a good place. Terri saw the look on Will’s face when she mentioned she had been to the OB/GYN- he was thrilled with the prospect of having a baby- and she decided she couldn’t go through with telling him that there was no baby. Just thinking about what she did makes me sick to my stomach.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode, although it was kind of a roller coaster, what with Emma and Rachel both getting closer to their crushes just to end up farther away than ever by the end. I’m hoping this baby storyline is over soon, because it has the potential to drag down the entire show, for me at least. I’m also hoping that we see a return to more natural, less produced music, even if they are hoping to put a few songs from every episode up on iTunes.

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