Glee-cap: If Everyone Was Popular, No One Would Be Popular.
If there’s one thing that can counteract even the most negative emotion for me, it’s an all-new episode of Glee. It’s something about the combination of Cory Monteith’s slightly lopsided smile, Mark Salling’s intense stare, and Matthew Morrison’s dance moves that make it all better than any therapy session. And it’s free.
So it’s probably a good thing that Glee snagged the highly sought-after post-Super Bowl time slot (although I’ve always wondered…who would want to air a show during the one hour where pretty much everyone over the age of sixteen is absolutely wasted?) because that Steelers loss wasn’t goin’ down easily.
Glee came back with a vengeance after its second season hiatus. Let me remind you of where we left off: Emma and Carl got married, Brittany and Artie are cuter than ever, Quinn and Sam are irritatingly symmetrical, Kurt left McKinley because Karofsky was bullying him, and Rachel cheated on Finn with Puck after hearing Finn slept with Santana, so Finn dumped Rachel (whew!).
Our reintroduction to the halls of McKinley started with a typically impressive Cheerios routine. But polished and provocative as it was (hello, flaming boobs!), tyrannical Sue was “bored.”
Off in boy’s locker room, Karofsky was being his usual insecure, douchey self and calling all the Glee boys gay. It’s always interesting for me to see scenes like these – I went to a high school where it was completely normal for the quarterback of the football team to star in the musical. But sometimes I feel that the whole point of Glee is to take things to extremes – to show highly dramatized versions of things that happen every day, because that’s the only hope its creators have of making a point. The reality is, high school, like the rest of the world, tends to place people into very specific boxes. Labels are powerful things, and many of our actions are made with the intention of earning the “right” labels.
Speaking of labels, I’ve come up with my own system of categorizing Glee episodes: the ones that are highly themed, and the ones that focus on the cozy little world that came to be the minute the entire Glee club belted out the chorus to “Don’t Stop Believing” for the first time. This episode was one of the former – in honor of the Super Bowl, it was all about football and the sport’s relationship to the glee club. I didn’t hate it, but I would have preferred more character and plot development.
There was another theme that strung this episode together, though: the idea that the easiest way to feel better about yourself is by tearing someone else down. It’s the essence of competition, and this week, Glee attempted to show us that the best way to end hostility and sabotage is by ensuring that everyone in a group feels confident in him or herself. Coach Beiste nailed this right on the head: she wanted the football team to win – not because of the title or the glory, but because of the morale-boosting powers that victory often has.
Karofsky’s tendency to harass others is a prime example of this. He calls others gay because he’s so afraid of his own sexuality. Rachel is the second character to put this to a test; she enlists Puck to start competition with Finn by singing an (absolutely beautiful) version of “Need You Now” with her. Her hope is that Finn will feel inferior to Puck once again, and come running back to her.
And then there’s Sue who makes a habit of building herself up by breaking others down (remember how she’s always making fun of Schue’s hair because she hates her own?) This week, it came to a whole new level: maintaining her own adrenaline level by shooting Brittany out of a cannon. When she’s told that she isn’t allowed to do this (because DUH! It’s crazy dangerous), she reacts by trashing not one, but TWO offices and changing the date of her cheerleading competition so the Cheerios can’t perform at the football game. Sue is licking her own wounds by making another team suffer.
As usual, Mr. Schue comes to the rescue and offers up the Glee club’s services. The newly merged Glee/football explosion will perform a mash up of “Thriller” and “Heads Will Roll.” GENIUS – but was it just me or did the rehearsal look exactly like “The Time Warp” dance? Anyways, even with some well choreographed dances and realistically gruesome makeup, the Glee guys and the football boys couldn’t keep the peace, and Beiste was forced to lay down the law. The boys, afraid of being slushies by the “puckheads” with the mullets again, turned in their zombie faces and jerseys and bailed on both teams.
Eventually the girls decided to join the football team to save the day (and looked so cute in the uniforms), but didn’t last long before Finn rushed off the round up the troops: the girls who chose Cheerios and popularity over glee club, and the boys who chose their pride over both glee and football. And boy did he and Puck do a good job. With just a few well chosen words, they got everyone on board, including Quinn who, much as she’s grown, is still clinging to the security blanket of a Cheerios uniform. It wasn’t until Finn told her that she’s strong that she decided to relinquish it.
I’m tellin’ you, kids: positive reinforcement is a powerful thing.
The group pulled it together (even Karofsky joined in halfway through!) for an epic performance and the rest of the game. Unlike the unfortunate Super Bowl, all ended well in the Glee-verse.
But like the Super Bowl, any competition produces winners and losers. Face it: everything in life is relative. If everyone was popular, no one would be, so in order to look good, you sometimes have to make others look bad. This is why high schools operate the way they do; you’re under constant scrutiny, and one action has the power to define you. Labels are impossible to escape, and they’re downright oppressive, but if this week’s episode was any indication, the harder we work to kick these walls down, the happier we’ll all be. Come on, if Finn Hudson can do it, anyone can.
Oh, and another great moment? When Katie Couric added Sue to her list of losers. Some other losers on her list? The economy, Dina Lohan, and Tiger Woods. Amazing.
Best line of the night: “I don’t want to die yet…at least not until one Tree Hill gets cancelled.”
Best Number of the night: ‘Thriller,’ duh. Although ‘Bills Bills Bills’ was also pretty top notch. Love you, Warblers!