A Rocky Horror Fan on Glee's Take

Trust me when I say that I am a devoted Rocky Horror fan. Though I was never an on-stage performer on Saturday nights at the local movie theatre that reenacted the show, I was definitely an audience regular. I had memorised the film and soundtrack long before I was allowed to go with my older brother to the live version. The whole experience wound up becoming a weekend ritual, as it did for young outcasts looking for a way to be subversive, as well as to see and be seen by people in their sexiest underwear. I'm also a pretty devoted Gleek (and musical theatre junkie).

I half-heartedly anticipated Glee’s take on the ultimate cult classic, because for obvious reasons, I knew last night's "Rocky Horror Glee Show" would be a watered-down spin on the original. Mind you, the songs of Rocky Horror are in my blood. I could quote the entire movie, every scale change, every glance, slap, grab, and outfit change. Here are my very subjective observations:

... Santana’s (Naya Rivera) mouth singing "Science Fiction/Double Feature" was far too sexy and not creepy enough. Why didn’t Kurt sing it, as Riff Raff did in the original?

... Rachel (Lea Michele) singing "Over at the Frankenstein Place" was perfect. And her playing Janet was also perfect, as Rachel is both naive and blissfully confident in her own skin.

... I got a small chuckle out of the fact that Barry Bostwick and Meatloaf appeared at the beginning of the episode. But their roles as the cable executives trying to create controversy felt like yet another contrived Glee plotline. The whole "Sue Sylvester’s going to try bring down the Glee club" routine is getting tired.

... Sam (Chord Overstreet) as Rocky in those gold shorts was perfect.

- Carl (John Stamos) singing "Hot Patootie - Bless My Soul" as his audition song was totally rockin'. I had no doubt that Stamos could shake and sing at the same time. In 2000, he was fantastic in his run as the androgonously oversexed emcee in Cabaret on Broadway.

... Emma (Jayma Mays) and Will’s (Matthew Morrison) version of "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me" was totally hot and kept with the spirit of the original. But really, they couldn't say “heavy petting or bed wetting?” (Which then got me thinking, have Emma and Carl officially done the deed?) Also, I loved seeing on-and-off girlfriends Britney (Heather Morris) and Santana singing backup.

... Mercedes (Amber Riley) is slowly but surely becoming my favourite character on the show because, damn, that girl can wail. Her performance as Frank-N-Furter was inspired, though I was disappointed to watch her performance of "Sweet Transvestite." Glee touts itself as progressive and unafraid of confronting the norm, especially by paying homage to a musical about freedom, yet Fox censored the word “transsexual” and replaced it with “sensational”? Really? Weak. And while her actual explanation of why she wanted to play Frank-N-Furter was stilted, I was glad the show at least referred to one of the less recognizable numbers from Rocky Horror, “Fanfare/Don’t Dream It." To me that's one of the more beautiful and sobering songs from the musical, with a message about being yourself no matter what.

... I really dug the storyline of Brad, er, Finn (Cory Monteith) and his insecurities about his body. It’s important for kids watching to know that guys and girls ALL have body image issues. And since Rocky Horror has become the poster child for the importance of being comfortable in your own skin, it was one of the better appropriations of a theme I’ve seen on Glee. So, bravo.

... Kurt (Chris Colfer) as Riff Raff was neither here nor there. I felt he was a less creepy shell of the original. Or maybe he just didn’t get enough air time.

... While I would have gladly watched Brittany do the whole Columbia tap solo in "Time Warp," it was great to see Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) as Columbia, too. It was totally reminiscent of Rocky Horror's live theatre audience participation.

The episode did get me thinking about how the creators of Glee are becoming our modern day boundary-pushers on TV, because they often question taboo topics and hope to expand the minds of their viewers. If after the airing of this episode, they got one more person to question the censorship of the word "transsexual" or to listen to “Don’t Dream It, Be It”, then they’ve wielded their power in a positive way.

What did you think of Tuesday's episode?
Comments (1)
Feb 08, 2011
I am a Rocky Horror fan as well and I agree with your observations save a few. Many reviewers feel confused about the censorship in the episode - heavy sweating, sensational, etc... I don't think it was Fox censoring anything. I think the edits were plot driven. Sue was censoring the play because she wanted to impose her will on the Glee club. If you think about it Fox has shown Rocky before on its channel (circa 1993 IIRC) and they didn't edit out those words.