Did you find yourselves moved by Santana’s coming-out story in this week’s episode of Glee, “I Kissed a Girl?” I was weirdly divorced from the whole proceeding, and coming-out stories usually pull my heartstrings. If you recall, at the end of the last new episode, Santana slapped Finn, so "I Kissed a Girl" began in Principal Figgins' office with Santana facing suspension. Finn stepped in and called it a stage slap, which got her off the hook—but insisted the Trouble Tones and New Directions put aside their differences for a joint singing session. And the theme, apparently, was “songs that will force Santana out of the closet before Sue Sylvester’s attack ad airs, informing the world that she is a lesbian.” Sure, that’s a little specific, but you know how Glee loves its themes!
So Kurt and Blaine dueted on a P!nk song, “Perfect,” and Puck, whose mohawk has morphed into more of a Hitlerhawk with a tail fin, sang, “I’m the Only One” by Melissa Etheridge. Yes, it seemed as if it was going to be a very Lesbian Greatest Hits episode (except no Indigo Girls?! Go figure), but Puck directed that song squarely at Shelby. Got it, Shelbs? He’s the only one. Is it strange that the Parents Television Council was up in arms about the virginity-losing episode “The First Time,” yet a blossoming high school student-teacher affair seems to slipped by unnoticed? I find it kind of strange.
But Santana was still not convinced—not until Finn confronted her in the hallway. While telling her that a teenager who made an It Gets Better video wound up killing himself—which actually happened—Finn said, rather convincingly, “You deal with your anxiety surrounding this stuff by attacking other people, but someday that’s not going to be enough and you’re going to start attacking yourself.” Then he sang a slowed-down, sad version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” that really turned that happy, carefree song on its head. Suddenly, it was all about how men prevent women from being the people they really want to be, and their longing to be their true selves. Kind of heavy, Finn! But it worked: Santana broke down in tears, and thanked Finn and hugged him.
Meanwhile, Coach Beiste ran into Cooter the Recruiter, who Sue was using to promote a voter-friendly, heterosexual image, and if you slow down the scene on your DVR, you can identify the precise moment Bieste's heart ripped in two. And it wasn't because of all the fried pork she eats, but a result of seeing the man she loves with another woman. “I thought you and I were doing stuff and stuff,” she told him, in her emotionally articulate way. Cooter told Beiste that he likes her, but she gives him mixed signals and seems more like she just wants a bro who can spot her in the gym. No, Cooter has needs, and Sue satisfies those needs. Can you really blame him?
The third plot involved the school election. (And there’s still a fourth plot. Too many plots!) Kurt was starting to get nervous about his chances at winning against Brittany, so he took a pair of scissors to his sweater. No, wait, the outfit was supposed to look like that. Rather, he referenced how John F. Kennedy stole the 1960 presidential election with the help of corrupt Chicago Mayor Richard Daley—one of several weirdly dated political references, including Puck’s write-in vote of Ross Perot. Aren’t we in an election year now? Couldn’t the references have been a little more topical? Or is that too “edgy?” (Unless the references to a pizza chain in Sue’s attack ad was a nod to Herman Cain, but I don’t think it was.) I’ll just spill the beans right now and tell you what happened: Rachel stuffed the ballot box with Kurt votes, Figgins figured it out and confronted Kurt, and Brittany won! Go Brit! Kurt was understandably angry at Rachel (even though he planted the idea in her head), but was magnanimous toward Brittany. Honestly, I hated this story, because it forced Kurt and Rachel to act far pettier and more stupid than their characters actually are. Rachel was suspended for a week and barred from singing at sectionals, which is kind of a relief.
The fourth plot was the Shelby/Puck ridiculousness. After Puck impressed his math teacher with his accounting skills, he answered his phone in class. Shelby called him “because she doesn’t have anyone else.” So I guess that officially makes her a child predator now? The baby cut her lip or something and was in the emergency room. Puck took charge, ordering in a plastic surgeon to attend to his baby’s stitches, his assertiveness driving Shelby wild with desire. Cut to: In bed with the two of them. This plot really embarrassed me; I can only imagine how it made Idina Menzel feel. Shelby asked him to leave (“This is wrong,” she said. Ya think?), and Puck called her a coward and stormed out, running into Quinn’s arms for some revenge booty. Quinn stupidly admitted that she is just using him to make another baby (don’t tell him ‘til you’re already knocked-up, girl! That’s just Tricky Motherhood 101). Then Puck, Mr. Mature all of a sudden, gave her a loving pep talk in which he told her he imagines her living in Toronto. Amazingly, she didn't slap him.
Let’s wrap this up: Santana came out to her grandma, and her grandma reacted, well, not very grandmotherly-ly! She kicked Santana out of the house, telling her she’s selfish for making her feel uncomfortable, and that “the sin isn’t in the thing, it’s in the scandal, when people talk about it out loud.” They didn’t show what happened after that, but the grandmother ended up going to hell when she died, for being a horrible woman. She spent the rest of eternity regretting it. Beiste realized she might need a little help in the romance department, and pledged to the man who got away that she will fight to win him back. Then all the storylines were brought home with a rendition of k.d. lang’s “Constant Craving,” the ultimate Unfulfilled Lesbian anthem. In the montage, we learned that Burt Hummel was victorious over Sue Sylvester in the state elections, leading me to wonder why the rest of that ho-hum plot couldn’t have been summarized in the span of one song.
It wasn’t a terrible episode, but it wasn’t one of Glee's better ones, either. There was just way too much going on, and not enough of it was really particularly captivating, in the way that other arcs have been this season (I’m thinking of Mike Chang’s conflict with his father, and Blaine and Kurt’s fight and reconciliation in “The First Time.”) The emotional center of the episode was Santana, but like I said at the top, I was uninvolved. I just think the show has pushed her too far into cold and unlikeable territory over the past three seasons for me to suddenly find myself rooting for her. And I don’t buy her as a lesbian. I just don’t. Sorry. The entire plot has always felt like a writers' room construct to me, because what happens next? Is Santana going to suddenly be a nice person now? I doubt it—Glee loves its bitchy one-liners too much to sacrifice one of its bitchiest characters.
And now a few thoughts on the musical performances!
"F--kin’ Perfect" by P!nk, sung by Kurt and Blaine
Can we put a moratorium on P$nk songs, or however she spells her name this week, on Glee? They are the worst—cheesy like Broadway but masquerading as “rock and roll.” I know that sounds like exactly what Glee is, but the whole thing make it Glee to the power of Glee, and it’s all too much.
"I'm the Only One" by Melissa Etheridge, sung by Puck
I don’t know about you, but I always get uncomfortable when they sing to each other in the choir room, and everyone just bobs their heads and smiles. On the plus side, Melissa rocks and this is a classic. On the minus side, Puck’s mohawk.
"Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper, Cover by Greg Laswell, sung by Finn with New Directions Boys
This was actually an interesting spin on a song we all think we know. Enjoyable.
"Jolene" by Dolly Parton, sung by Shannon Beiste
I loved this. First of all, it’s just one of the greatest songs of all time. There’s something about the narrative that’s just so sad and dramatic and even a little bit sinister, as if the singer might snap at any moment and kill Jolene. And seeing as how Beiste’s plot was the most emotionally engaging story this week, the two married together really worked wonders. Brava!
"I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry, sung by Santana and Rachel with New Directions Girls and The Troubletones
Snore. I’ve always hated this song coming out of Katy Perry’s sherbert head, and it had no place here. It’s a not a true lesbian song, it’s a straight-girl song. It’s kind of homophobic, actually. “I liked it.” Good for you, Katy Perry. You still have to sleep with Russell Brand.
"Constant Craving" by k.d. lang. Sung by Santana, Shelby, Kurt and Rachel.
Great song, but kind of watered down with all the tableaus and champagne flutes filled with urine and plot exposition and teary-eyed Kurts.
What did you think? Was the episode too dense and scattered? Or did you love all the overlapping plotlines? Did you feel moved or manipulated by Santana’s coming-out story and her mean, old grandma? What were your favorite performances?