The Role You Were Born to Play recap/review
“This is just another one of your ill-conceived, bizarrely sentimental schemes and displays absolutely no forethought and appears immediately ridiculous to everyone in America except you.”
Is it just me, or do the above words from Sue Sylvester towards the beginning of Glease sum up Glee and its writers? Often the storylines, characters and their motivations make no sense, and I think Glease was one of those times.
Glease revolved around the McKinley High production of Grease, and introduced an eating disorder, saw some of its characters slide backwards into unattractive old behaviours, and continued to elevate Finn as some sort of god among men.
Let’s take Marley and the eating disorder storyline first. In the space of one episode Marley thought her “fat genes” had kicked in and caused her to gain enormous amounts of weight, all because one skirt, ONE SKIRT, didn’t fit her properly. What happened to the confident Marley we knew who stood up to the glee kids for being mean about her mum? And while we’re talking about her mum, why did she tell her daughter they would both be going on a “special diet”? Seriously, the encouraging mum of episodes past is gone, because in that one sentence Marley’s mum managed to call her fat and tell her that she had to change her appearance to get by in the world, despite the fact her daughter is beautiful and healthy.
Marley’s burgeoning eating disorder, prompted by the evil Kitty (even Quinn and Santana had redeeming features when they were first introduced, Kitty has none and it’s boring), also led to the glee club girls making fun of her during Kitty’s rendition of Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee. Five episodes ago, at the end of the first episode of this season, Tina, Sugar and Brittany all realised it wasn’t worth being mean and popular, they’d rather have their friends. Suddenly they’ve forgotten this, and in doing so, forgotten the essence of glee club, which is about friendship and being there for each other.
While Marley was getting increasingly panicked, new boy Ryder was being sweet and lovely. Sue me, I actually like him. He’s way nicer than Finn, and way more charming. He at least tried to do something about Marley, noticing something was wrong, unlike her so-called friends. On the other end, Jake is brooding and jealous and Ryder and Marley’s budding romance. Er, dude, if you actually spoke to her once in a while and showed you cared, she might like you a bit more.
Marley’s bestie Unique had a tough episode. Told that she couldn’t be in the school musical because it might put her in danger, Unique became Wade for the entirety of Glease, and looked thoroughly miserable, and not just because he’d lost the role of Rizzo.
In a scene reminiscent of last season’s rendition of Constant Craving by Santana, Shelby and Kurt, Santana took to the stage to sing Rizzo’s seminal song There Are Worse Things I Could Do, joined by Cassandra and Wade. I think it would have been better without Cassandra, because she’s a pretty unsympathetic character in this episode (she’s sleeping with Bordy *yawn*), but it was a meaningful moment for Wade, and for Santana.
Talking of Santana, her and Brittany had some sweet moments this week, but I’m not really invested in their relationship. Their break-up was handled well, and I don’t feel like I needed to see them discussing aspects of it again.
I may be in the minority, but I thought this episode of Glee was a bit of a mess (in case you can’t tell already). I believe in artistic licence and suspending reality a little bit when it comes to films and television, but Glee is a comedy, not a fantasy. There has to be some semblance of realism. I found a series of questions running through my mind during Glease, with my inner voice becoming increasingly irate. Here are a few of those questions:
- Much as I love Santana, how on earth is an ex-student allowed to come back and play a starring role in a school musical?
- How did Tina, the seamstress, not notice the skirt she’d made for Marley had shrunk by six inches in the course of a few days? Or that all the other clothes she’d made still fit her fine?
- How is it okay for Cassandra to speak to a pupil the way she spoke to Rachel?
- What makes Rachel think she’s qualified to give advice to a teacher?
- In what world is it professional for a teacher to offer a pupil and their friend, both teenagers, their frequent flyer miles? And in what world is it okay for them to accept?
- When did Hummel Tires and Lube turn from a small mechanic’s shop into what almost resembles a corporation?
- Seriously, how is Finn allowed to take on an extra-curricular job at a school? Yes, he might only be volunteering, but surely there are checks that you need to pass. Surely there are standards.
- Do Mercedes and Mike not have classes to go to? How long have they been in Lima? You’re not telling me Grease has been put on in a week.
And that was just the start of my dissatisfaction, because, let’s face it, most of my disappointment lies with the imbalance between Klaine and Finchel screentime. And now we get to the nub of it.
Finn and Rachel spent four minutes discussing how they were broken up. Yes, we know. You’ve been broken up since the last episode of season three, six episodes ago (even though Glee‘s writers forgot). Why are you still talking about it so much? Move on, I don’t care. Nobody cares. You’ve had the same discussion multiple times. Please stop.
Kurt and Blaine, on the other hand, spent less than a minute talking about their break-up. Their break-up which occurred two episodes ago. Their break-up which was instigated by the fact that Blaine cheated on Kurt. After Kurt deciding he needed to see Blaine, prompting his visit to Ohio, he suddenly decided to completely ignore him, not even letting Blaine speak to him after the musical ended. I don’t buy that.
I wanted to see some real movement with the Kurt and Blaine storyline, and there was nothing. A 40-second discussion of how Kurt couldn’t trust Blaine, and that was it. Where was the shouting, the accusations, the hurt? Most of it was contained in the looks exchanged by the pair during their first meeting backstage at McKinley, and then when Blaine was singing Beauty School Drop Out. Luckily Chris Colfer and Darren Criss use their faces pretty well (the pain is always in Blaine’s eyes even when he’s in the background of non-Kurt scenes), so we got a good idea of how Kurt and Blaine were feeling, but when Finn and Rachel get so much time to discuss a break-up that’s been discussed a dozen times before, why should Kurt and Blaine not get one decent conversation?
I don’t want Kurt and Blaine back together straight away. They have a lot to work out. As Kurt said, he’s lost his trust in Blaine. And while it wasn’t mentioned (because nothing was mentioned) Blaine has probably lost some trust in Kurt, because the latter promised he wouldn’t leave Blaine behind when he went to New York, and in a number of ways he did (not the moving on with his life and career, but the not calling and not listening). Kurt and Blaine need to talk to be able to move on, even if it’s just as friends, or even acquaintances in the short term. And they didn’t get the chance to talk. They were cut off in the same way Kurt cut Blaine off as Blaine said “I love you” during The Break Up.
I’ve changed this section from best scene to best moments, since I’ve been struggling to find an entire scene I’ve managed to enjoy without getting frustrated. I liked Kurt’s interaction with Cassandra, his reactions brought a smile to my face. I liked his acknowledgement of how hard he was taking The Break Up, and his reference to The Notebook. I liked Tina and Mike possibly reuniting (at least one couple I like is possibly getting back together). I sort of liked You’re The One That I Want when it morphed into all the old glee club couples, but it also made me a bit sad (Klaine). The strongest musical number by miles was Beauty School Drop Out – as well as Darren Criss using a slightly deeper tone, his embodiment of the role and the glances between him and Kurt, it also had brilliant reactions from Sugar, who looks uncannily like Frenchie from the film version of Grease.