Glee "Guilty Pleasures" Review: The Teachings of the Spice Girls

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Glee S04E17: "Guilty Pleasures"

Okay, Glee. You win this round. "Guilty Pleasures" was a solid episode to leave us with while you go off on a mini-hiatus. We got some Fondue for Two and a few solid musical performances and some drama that actually kind of made sense except for Rachel swooning over Finn punching Brody in the face. Cuz violent outburst from jealous ex-boyfriends are like, so romantic, right? 

Glee even managed to squeeze in some public service announcements that weren't batshit crazy, which was both weird and welcome. I haven't been this un-conflicted about messages since Season 2. 

This week's theme was a strong one and by keeping it in sight at all times, Glee remained on the straight and narrow of decent storytelling. That and, well, guilty pleasures are just inherently fun. Occasionally mortifying. But fun. I have friends who would claim that Glee itself is a guilty pleasure. I know that for a lot of people, the cool thing to do is talk about how horrible the show's covers are, or how turning every single vaguely popular song of the last thirty years into a harmonious, tween-friendly tune is a slap in the face to "true" artistry. I won't argue those points because they're not totally unfounded. Glee has definitely covered songs that I don't think it necessarily handled well (I'm actually on the fence about this week's rendition of "Creep"), but for every "bad" performance, there's another one that Glee did really well. "Don't Stop Believin'" is a classic example. I enjoy a lot of the Warbler covers. There's also something to said about how entertaining many of the musical montages are.  I can't even fathom the amount of rehearsal time that goes into an episode of Glee. Even the sucky ones. 

But on that note, my true guilty pleasure is that I adore the 1988 Bette Midler film Beaches. I can quote it. I stopped recording the number of times I've seen it once it hit the double digits. My undergrad roommate once threatened to take the DVD away and not return it until graduation. This is who I am, and I make no apologies! And I stole that statement from Sam, who seemed to have an endless supply of guilty pleasures to draw on, from his status as a macaroni portrait prodigy to his love of Barry Manilow tunes.


With Mr. Schue conveniently out sick with the flu, Blaine and Sam took it upon themselves to run glee club rehearsals. Brittany took the opportunity to try to understand Kitty better by inviting her to appear on Fondue for Two. "Guess what, everybody  hates you," might just be the truest line ever uttered by a McKinley High School student. 

And guess what—I still hate Psycho Kitty. I'm not sure if the push to make Kitty act like real people in the second half of the season is the result of deliberate intent and meaningful progression on the writers' part, or a desperate attempt to calm the hordes of Kitty Haters. I mean, she DID win our Worst Characters of the 2012 Fall Season poll with a substantial lead. It could go either way. I'm still very apprehensive about this supposedly reformed Kitty. I'm waiting for the claws to come back out. 

Kitty's guilty pleasure turned out to be the Spice Girls—a good choice. The ladies of New Directions were happy to argue over who got to play whom with a sudden self-awareness of their tendency to stereotype one another. Mousy Marley got to be ultra-sexy Posh. Unique indulged in flirty fashion and to take on the mantle of blonde-haired-blue-eyed Baby Spice, even though standard Glee casting patterns dictated she should have been Scary. Tina, of course, made a fabulous Scary. PSA #1: Individuals are individuals and shouldn't be confined to specific roles—whether on stage or in life—based on preconceived notions of race, beauty, personality, etc. 

Going it alone, Jake first considered performing a Chris Brown song. Jake reasoned that it was a guilty pleasure because even though Chris Brown is a confirmed douchebag, Jake admires Brown's work. The rest of New Directions balked at the idea, listing everything from Brown's misogynistic Twitter rants to his relationship with Rihanna, succinctly capping it all off with "That dude is a psychopath." Nailed it. 

Jake switched over to a Bobby Brown song and faced further criticism due to Brown's history with Whitney Houston. At which poing Jake launched PSA #2: Artists should be judged for their art and not their personal lives. I don't think it was quite as flawless a point as the one made via the Spice Girls, but the framework of a more complicated argument is there. Responsible consumerism certainly takes the personal beliefs and actions of powerful entities into consideration, so it certainly stands to reason that buying a Chris Brown album puts money in his pocket and monetary support, on some level, constitutes a blessing for Chris Brown to continue being an awful human being. There are absolutely artists, corporations, and other powerful people and organizations that I personally choose not to support because I disagree with some essential aspect of their existence. I TOTALLY get where the glee club was coming from. But it's also a slippery slope that makes it easy to condemn people simply for disagreeing with you.

Chris Brown is totally a douchebag though.

And finally, Blaine passive-aggressively revealed his feelings for Sam and... it was totally cool. Seriously one of the least climactic big reveals ever—which was perfect. PSA #3: Straight dudes and the gay guys who crush on them can still be friends. 

In New York, the saga of Rachel and Brody reached its inevitable end when Santana spilled the beans about Brody's night job, "Like Magic Mike. With happy endings. For money."

Rachel confronted Brody, indulging in a little slut-shaming action of her own. (Just to be clear, my issue with Brody isn't that he's a gigolo, it's that he didn't tell the girlfriend he's been sleeping with that he's a gigolo.) Brody countered by reminding Rachel that "not everyone has doting daddies to pay the bills." There were tears. And there was singing. But in the end, Rachel was energized and focused and not at all weepy and melodramatic. Her Funny Girl audition is still on the horizon and she's determined to ace it. Despite getting all gooey-eyed at the idea of Finn defending her honor, Rachel has made no concrete decision to start dating him again and even voiced the intention to start dating "older men." Oh, for the love of... just get back with Finn already, jeez. We already had Quinn dating her professor and that ended SO well for her. 

At least Kurt and Santana seem to be getting along now that she's a full-time roommate in the TARDIS loft. Kurt's boyfriend arm is way less creepy when it has a Santana-approved counterpart. 

Glee returns on April 11. In the meantime, what did you think of "Guilty Pleasures"?


MUSICAL NOTES

– My Glee "Guilty Pleasures" playlist: Oh wow. So many. Guilty pleasures are the best. "Wake Me Up"  because everyone loves being blinded by neon. "Wannabe" because those costumes were amazing. OMG MARLEY. "Mamma Mia" because it was fun and weird. I'm torn on "Creep" because my inner high schooler—who clung to "Creep" during our sad anti-social phase—is screaming that it's an abomination but eh, I didn't hate it. 

– "Hunger is a big problem in this country. But so is obesity. Which is confusing." —Blaine

– Any guilty pleasures you'd like to share with the class? C'mon, I fessed up to BEACHES

– Aww, I loved Small Wonder. Tina's V.I.C.I. was SPOT. ON. It was a great week for the Glee wardrobe department.

– How do you think Rachel's Funny Girl audition will go?

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