Saturday, August 21, 2010

Glee 1.20: "Theatricality"

“Yes, for several years in my early twenties, I dressed up as Elvis, but he was a Christian, Will, and did not possess the ability to transform into a bat!”
-Principal Figgins

“Theatricality” was probably one of my least favorite episodes of “Glee” this season, even though I do have a slightly embarrassing love for Lady Gaga. Thing is, this was billed as the “Lady Gaga” episode, but there were only actually two Lady Gaga songs used. I guess the licensing fees were too high to include more, but I still think it was false advertising. That’s not even the main reason why I dislike this episode, though. I can deal with the lack of Lady Gaga music. What I can’t deal with is so many of the characters making me extremely angry. Oh yes, was there ever drama in this episode. I suppose that’s sort of appropriate considering the title is “Theatricality,” and if you weren’t sure of the theme of the episode, the characters are sure to repeat the words “theatricality” and “theatrical” for you plenty often, so you are certain to figure it out.

Despite my problems with the episode overall, I did find the opening scene to be quite funny. Tina and Will have been called into Principal Figgins’ office. Will tries to assure Tina that there’s no way she could be in trouble but Will, as always, is wrong. Principal Figgins is trying to ban Goth dressing at McKinley since a group of Twi-hards attacked students while pretending to be vampires. What is even funnier is that it’s not the fact students were attacked that has Figgins spooked about Goth style. He thinks vampires are real and might try to attack him. Will and Tina enjoy making fun of this a little bit, but the edict still stands. Tina is not allowed to wear Goth clothing at McKinley anymore. When she shows up to glee club practice in a gray sweatshirt, she feels like she has lost her identity.

Finn is struggling with identity issues as well. His mom has a big surprise for him, and that surprise turns out to be that they’re moving in with the Hummels. That wouldn’t be so bad, except for the fact that Finn is going to have to share a room with Kurt. Despite being generally tolerant and sweet (the scene in the first half of the season where he thinks Kurt is asking him to the prom and he lets him down gently would be a good example), this makes Finn feels really uncomfortable. It doesn’t help that Kurt is all gung-ho about redecorating their room and that Kurt and Finn are both facing a great deal of taunting from McKinley’s football players.

Meanwhile, at school, Rachel rushes into glee club rehearsal with important news. She has figured out that Vocal Adrenaline is testing out a Lady Gaga number for Regionals. I actually think this scene is one of Lea Michele’s better comic scenes in the series. The way she breathlessly explains to the group how she figured out Vocal Adrenaline’s plans is hilarious. Anyway, Will decides that this week’s glee club assignment should be to come up with their own Lady Gaga number. The girls and Kurt all think this is the best idea ever, and the guys just squirm in their seats and look unhappy.

Rachel and some of the other girls decide to go spy on a Vocal Adrenaline rehearsal to find out just what they’ll be up against. The Vocal Adrenaline kids are all dressed up in faceless red costumes reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video. The group isn’t being theatrical enough for Shelby’s taste, so Shelby decides to give her own performance as an example. She doesn’t sing a Lady Gaga song, though…she sings something from “Funny Girl.” I thought that was an odd song choice. On the one hand, it works to make Rachel absolutely sure she’s listening to her mother, but on the other hand, I didn’t really see anything “theatrical” about the song or the performance. Rachel makes her way to the stage, and the reunion is more awkward than sappy, which
I suppose is a good thing. Glee gravitates to the sappy a little too often. Both Rachel and Shelby are sitting in separate rows of auditorium seats as they talk, and when Rachel mentions that when she was a kid, her dads would bring her a glass of water when she’s sad, it makes Shelby realize just how much she’s missed out on.

Back at school, Finn confronts Will about how all the guys (except for Kurt) really don’t want to do a Lady Gaga assignment. Will relents and says they can do something different, as long as it’s still theatrical, and Finn says he already has an idea. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Kurt and Tina have taken to wearing Lady Gaga-inspired outfits around school. This draws the negative attention of two football players, who in dialogue that’s way too on-the-nose, tell Kurt and Tina that they don’t like people who feel the need to be different, so Kurt and Tina had better watch out. The football players act offended that Kurt and Tina feel the need to express their unique personalities through their clothing. Kurt makes some comments about how the football players get their hair cut at Supercuts, and in just about the lamest product placement ever, a football player gets in one last jab about how you don’t have to make appointments there- you can just walk in.

The kids participating in the Gaga performance are all in costume at the next glee club rehearsal, except that Rachel is a notable exception. When she finally does show up to rehearsal, her costume is a bit…sad. She went for the dress made out of stuffed animals look, and it’s not working for her. Her dads can’t sew, so they stapled the stuffed animals onto a dress for her. Despite Rachel’s bad costume, the group’s performance of “Bad Romance” is actually pretty good. I liked that we got to hear some voices that we don’t hear often- Kurt, Tina, and Santana sang lead. I was especially impressed by Naya Rivera’s voice, and I hope that we get to hear her more in the new season, which starts in about a month. This summer seriously flew by!

Finn gets harassed by football players as he’s getting ready for the boys’ performance. He just happens to be in the bathroom putting on some stage makeup when the football players who had been harassing Kurt and Tina see him. They question his sexual orientation and basically make Finn feel horrible. Finn manages to pull himself back together in time for glee club, where the boys perform a number by the band Kiss, complete with crazy make-up and pyrotechnics. I’m seriously questioning how a high school auditorium has pyrotechnics, but I suppose some of the performance elements of “Glee” require more than a little suspension of disbelief.

When he gets home, though, Finn is still fairly pissed off by the football player situation. Kurt asks Finn to intercede with the football players on behalf of himself and Tina, but Finn’s not having it, because he’s been a victim of the taunting too. Finn tells Kurt that he should tone it down if he doesn’t want to be the subject of mocking. The argument escalates when Finn sees how Kurt has redecorated their room with a Moroccan theme. Finn claims he can’t live there and uses a very derogatory term to describe the décor. Burt hears Finn’s language and kicks Finn out. He says he can’t have that type of attitude around his family, and he had hoped Finn was different. Although this was a great performance by Mike O’Malley, I thought the whole scene lacked authenticity. It felt like Burt was seriously overreacting. Now, I’m not saying that the language Finn used was at all okay, but I think that Finn’s use of the language wasn’t coming from the same place that it comes from with most people who use it. I think it would have been more productive for Burt to find out exactly why Finn was reacting as he was. It could have been turned into a better teaching moment.

Rachel continues to deal with her own family drama. She once again shows up unannounced at Vocal Adrenaline’s rehearsal space. She asks Shelby to help make her a better Lady Gaga costume, and even though Shelby would rather not see Rachel, she agrees. The new costume is actually really cool. It’s black and white and very geometric. Later, though, Shelby and Will have a conversation that reveals Shelby’s true colors, if we couldn’t figure that out already. She’s a beyond-selfish jerk. She’s disappointed at the realization that Rachel isn’t still the snuggly baby she gave up. She’s got a number of years of experiences that Shelby hasn’t been able to participate in. Shelby basically wants to throw Rachel away for new toys, and it’s going to leave Rachel a wreck.

Before we wrap up the storylines for the week, there’s another musical performance. Quinn had been pissed at Puck for most of the episode because he had been suggesting silly “rock star” names for their baby. Puck claims that the “theatricality” assignment made him realize that he needs to put all his feelings out there for Quinn to hear, and so he and the guys perform “Beth” as Puck’s more serious suggestion for a baby name. This musical performance was kind of mediocre. The real problem I had with it was that even though this was Puck’s song to Quinn, Finn took a verse. I’d really like to see Mark Salling sing more often- I enjoy his voice, and I still fail to understand why Finn has to get at least partial lead on every song when Cory Monteith is clearly the weakest male vocalist.

The wrap-up of the Rachel/Shelby plot in this episode induced even more rage inside of me. Shelby tells Rachel that it’s probably best if they limit their contact going forward, and even though Rachel is trying to put on a happy face, she’s devastated. Shelby gives Rachel a “gold star” cup to use to drink water when she’s sad, and I found that insulting. “I don’t want you in my life anymore even though you’re my daughter, but here, have this shiny cup!” Rachel asks Shelby for one favor- she wants them to sing together. Rachel’s song choice is an acoustic version of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” I like Lady Gaga’s music, including “Poker Face,” but it’s really not meant to be acoustic. It needs all the synth elements to really work. Needless to say, the performance was decidedly lacking. The one thing I did like was that Shelby definitely gave Rachel a “disapproving mom” look when Rachel started singing the more-than-a-little dirty lyrics of the first verse. It shows that maybe Shelby could have handled a teenage girl more than she gave herself credit for.

At the end of the episode, Tina of course gets her style back. I did kind of like how she went about it, though. She threatened Principal Figgins that she and her vampire family would attack him one night if he didn’t let her go back to dressing how she wanted. Kurt is still facing threats from the football players, but Finn, now dressed in a Lady Gaga outfit too, brings the rest of the glee club with him to save Kurt from a beat down. See what I mean about Finn not being a bad guy despite his unfortunate choice of language? He didn’t deserve what he got from Burt. Ah well, such is life I suppose.

No comments:

Post a Comment