Friday, September 25, 2009

Jordan's Review: Glee, Season 1, Episode 4: Preggers

When this week’s episode opened with “Single Ladies” I was prepared to roll my eyes, grin and bear it through the song (which annoys me to know end). Then the camera panned up to reveal Kurt, and all was right in the world. “Preggers” is all about being who you want to be, regardless of what stands in your way, and Kurt is an excellent example of this. Though the girl’s he is practicing with are quick to cover for him when his Dad walks in and finds Kurt in a unitard (which he claims is sweat resistant and perfect for practice), Kurt isn’t happy lying about who he is. And that happens to be a gay high school student who is a member of both the Glee Club and the football team.

Kurt’s decision to go out for the football team may be motivated by his attempts to prove his masculinity to his father, but it also gives him a chance to assert who he is. He is quite the field goal kicker, but only when Beyonce is backing him up (as he puts it “My body is like a rum chocolate soufflé. If I don’t warm it up right, it doesn’t rise.”). His foray into football also does the master plot a service as it recruits three players to the club, rounding them out at the minimum number to qualify for regionals.

Among them is Puck, who we learn a lot about this week. It seems he slept with Quinn, his best friend’s girl, and now she’s pregnant. Quinn doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life with Puck, however, and so she claims that Finn impregnated her during an unfortunate accident in a hot tub (“Think of the mail! Think of the mail!” Quinn urges in an excellent callback). Finn, panicked about becoming another high school father who pumps gas, recruits Will to teach the football team how to dance, in order to limber them up, in a strategy he learned from a book he checked out of the library (“I got this at the school library. Do you know you can just borrow books from there? All of them! Except the Encyclopedia.”). Will has already developed quite the rapport with the students. He actually cares about their problems and respects them in a way that deeply connects him to them.

In another subplot, Sue Sylvester has become a local news contributor, which of course leads to much hilarity. It also leads to her renewed desire to win nationals (because, as she’s told, her segment is for champions) which leads her to recruit Sandy into a plan to destroy Glee Club by stealing Rachel. Sandy, who is brought back into the school via an extortion of the Principal, begins casting Cabaret, and Rachel, disenchanted after losing out on a solo to Tina, decides to try out (with a version of Celine Dion’s “What do you say?” that is absolutely outstanding).
At first glance, I thought the idea of Rachel quitting the club was another example of a rushed plot point, but as the episode delved into her reasoning, it made perfect sense. Rachel, while exuding the most confidence, is easily the most desperate for approval. In her own mind, she’s a star and deserves all of the praise, popularity, and boyfriends that should go along with that. And while Will’s efforts have brought out the best in most of the other kids, and enriched their lives, Rachel has stayed the same—immensely talented and incredibly under-appreciated. When at the end of the episode she quits to work on Cabaret full time, it feels like a plot point that has been earned, even if it did arrive more quickly than I would have expected.

The use of Sue’s segment as an actual affirmation to “act like everyone is cheering for you and some day they will be” turns what has before been sheer fodder for laughter into something more meaningful. Each of these kids is learning that difficult lesson this season, and watching them do it is increasingly riveting.

Grade: A-


-“Yes we cane.”

-“I have a date to the prom, but I’m flattered. I know how important dances are to teen gays.”

-“I will not rest until every inch of our fair state is covered in garbage.”

-“I know that I can be a little abrasive, bossy and conceited. I’m just hurt that you chose to judge me on that rather than my talent.”

-“Boy, the only thing missing from this place is a couple dozen bodies limed and rotting in shallow graves under the floorboards.”

-“We gave up our pride when we lost to that school for the deaf.”

-“Here. Take these three times a day or your baby will be ugly.”

-“Kick this, and you die a legend.” “Can I pee first?”

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