Monday, June 7, 2010

Glee 1.17: "Bad Reputation"

“That glee club stole my private property and posted it online, and as soon as I figure out the difference between slander and libel, I’m filing a lawsuit.”


While I wouldn’t say “Bad Reputation” is one of my favorite episodes of “Glee,” (it was a tad too preachy for my taste), it did have its enjoyable moments, and the absolutely horrid song choices did, in some cases, make me laugh. Again, I thought the theme of the episode was a little too shoved in our faces, as every character was trying to (and talking about) changing their reputations, be it rehabbing a bad reputation or creating a bad reputation to try and gain popularity. I like that “Glee” tightly focuses its episodes around a theme each week, but the show’s tendency to state the title of the episode (which is usually the theme) in dialogue repeatedly throughout the episode is a little too much spoon feeding for me. I like themes, but I like having to put a little thought into discovering them.

The episode begins with what the glee club thinks is some innocent (okay, maybe not that innocent, but Sue totally deserves what’s coming to her) fun. Kurt has swiped a rather incriminating video from Sue’s office. No, not that kind of incriminating. It’s Sue doing Jazzercize routines to Olivia Newton John’s “Physical,” and it’s hilarious. Finn immediately volunteers to put the vid up on YouTube, promising it will go viral in hours. After only a minimal amount of debate, Finn gets the go-ahead to put the plan into action. Finn’s prediction is correct, and when pretty much the entirety of McKinley High starts mocking Sue, Sue reacts with a vengeance. In a meeting with Will and Principal Figgins, Sue pulls out the “Glist,” a list that purports to rank glee club members by promiscuity. Principal Figgins is outraged that a McKinley student would post such a list, and he tells Will that Will needs to figure out who posted the list, or he’s suspending the entire glee club.

The Glist debacle gives Will inspiration for the week’s glee club assignment. He wants to kids to try and rehab decent songs that have gotten a bad reputation. He starts of the festivities with a rendition of “Ice, Ice Baby.” While I much prefer hearing Matthew Morrison singing to rapping, there was one thing I enjoyed about this particular performance. It was a nice showcase for some of the cast members who were hired especially for their dancing talent, such as Harry Shum, Jr. (Mike Chang) who regularly performs with the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers and Heather Morris (Brittany) who was once a backup dancer for Beyoncé. Will divides the group up into thirds and gives each their own little dance routine, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Sue continues to deal with “slow motion laughter” as she goes about her day at school, and the person who does the most mocking is a new teacher, Brenda Castle, played by Molly Shannon. I was pretty excited when I read interviews with Jane Lynch describing this plot, because I’m a fan of Molly Shannon and I liked the idea of somebody finally being able to get under Sue’s skin. The reality didn’t quite live up to the hype. I don’t feel like they really did much of anything with the character of Brenda. Sure she leads the mocking of Sue, but I don’t really get why Sue fears her over all others. There is no depth to her.

After a conversation with her sister, Sue decides she’s going to make herself feel better by using Emma, somebody who has it worse than she does. Somehow I don’t think this is what Sue’s sister had in mind when she reminded Sue about how when they were kids and feeling sad, they’d go volunteer at an animal shelter. Sue, saying she’s Emma’s new therapist, informs Emma about Will’s encounters with Shelby and April and encourages Emma to tell Will off in a very public way. Emma does this in the lunch room, and everybody at the school starts calling Will a “slut” or a “man whore” (which he kind of is, but that’s kind of beside the point). Will feels awful at the realization of the pain he caused Emma, and he brings her flowers to try and make things right. Emma says maybe it’s for the best that she doesn’t have him on a pedestal anymore. If they’re ever going to have a real relationship, they need to see each other for who they truly are. The time for that real relationship isn’t going to be any time soon. Can I say that I absolutely love the Eiffel Tower sweater Jayma Mays is wearing in this scene? I most definitely want to find one for myself- it’s adorable.

Sue isn’t the only person upset about reputation at McKinley High. A group of glee club kids who weren’t even included on the Glist, led by Kurt, want to cause a scandal to get noticed by their fellow students. Brittany joins them, because she’s upset at not being top three on the Glist (she’s fourth). Kurt thinks the group should try and cause a commotion in the library, and they do so by performing “U Can’t Touch This,” complete with Hammer pants. Oh how well “Glee” captures the music of my childhood. I love it, even if I think it’s highly unlikely actual high school students of 2010 would perform many of the songs that fit this description on “Glee.” To the chagrin of the Glee kids, the librarian loves it, too. She asks the kids if they’ll be willing to perform at her church, because she thinks they’re adorable.

Sue’s ultimate saving from her reputation spiral doesn’t come from shifting the focus to Emma and Will. It comes from a surprise phone call from Olivia Newton John herself. Olivia saw Sue’s video on YouTube and thought it was hilarious. She’s a little embarrassed by her original video for “Physical,” and she has an idea that she thinks can help both herself and Sue. The duo star in a video for an updated version of “Physical,” and the glee club students, at least (and probably the rest of McKinley High as well), begrudgingly think the video is awesome. In one last bid to create a scandal that will increase their social cred, Kurt cops to stealing the original video. Since Sue’s riding high now, she could care less, in fact she’s thankful, once again to the chagrin of Kurt and his followers.

Rachel also spends the episode trying to increase her reputation. She was a -5 on the Glist, after all. She thinks she can do this by being “musically promiscuous,” and she enlists the help of the AV Club and Puck. She wants to create a video of herself singing “Run, Joey, Run,” and she tells Puck she wants him to be the male lead. She mentions that the last time Puck really had social standing was when he was dating her, and she thinks that working together again, even if it’s just professional, can only increase both their reputations. The final video isn’t just of Rachel and Puck, though. Rachel pulled the same trick on both Jesse and Finn, and none of the three guys are pleased, to say the least. Jesse breaks up with Rachel, and Finn also gives her a talking-to about disrespecting her relationships. Honestly, I think she really should have just had Puck in the video. Not because I’m a “Puckleberry” fan (I think Rachel and Finn are the best fit), but because I think Mark Salling’s voice was best suited to the song.

The end of the episode tries to be emotional with Will discovering Quinn posted the Glist and covering for her with Figgins and Rachel and her men singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” but for some reason, it didn’t quite work for me. Maybe it’s because even though Lea Michele can really bring the sad and broken, Rachel is really responsible for her own heartbreak in this situation. She took advantage of people who cared about her in a selfish bit to increase her own popularity. You reap what you sow.

No comments:

Post a Comment