Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Glee: "Sexy"

How fitting for Glee to follow up its alcohol episode with a sex episode. I suppose next week'll be the awkward morning after?

Of course, this is sex the way only Glee can do it, with an uneasy mix of dirty jokes and the decision of most of the kids to choose celibacy. Here's what happened: Holly Holiday (Gwyneth Paltrow) is back, this time subbing for the sex-ed teacher. Its here that she discovers that many of the kids don't know anything about sex (for example, in a demonstration of proper condom use with a cucumber, Finn and Mercedes panic at the news that the vegetable causes AIDS), and asks Will to do something about this. His answer, of course, is to explore the concept of "sexy" through song. Meanwhile, Kurt's afraid of knowing anything about sex, letting his virginal attitude match his saintly appearance, and Emma is still crushing on Will.

The episode's biggest selling point is the return of Paltrow, who's had quite a life since she appeared on the show back in November, when she sang a rousing rendition of Cee-Lo Green's originally-profane, neutered-for-radio-purposes hit "Forget You," or as the Grammys put it, "(The Song Otherwise Known as "Forget You")." Since then, her latest movie, Country Strong, opened to poor reviews and weak box office (but still managed to snag a Best Original Song Oscar nomination), and just yesterday signed a $900,000 recording contract with Atlantic Records. After several years off to raise her daughter Apple, its certainly nice to see Paltrow back, but she's had a strange journey back. And she brought that same charisma from November to this episode, but unfortunately lightning didn't strike twice: Holly came off as too loose this time, a wild child in need of some self-restraint and a knowledge of when to hold her tongue. Nothing here felt as authentically free as it did last time, though she did manage to entertain with her covers of Gary Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me" (though nothing will top the Joan Jett and the Blackhearts version) and Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." And she and Will had a fun tango to Prince's "Kiss," a genuinely sexy song.

For a Brad Falchuk-penned episode, there were a lot of teenage relationship drama going on here. Namely, Santana, who's been coming into her own as a character, came out, and her confession to Brittany was a great emotional high-point for the episode. Though the Santana-Brittany relationship always felt like a contrivance to lure in straight male viewers, in this episode Santana's feelings blossomed organically, and the end result packed more of a punch than it ever should have. Whether or not they stick with this development is anybody's guess. But the series' best relationship returned, as Kurt and his dad had "The Talk" after Blaine heckles him at work. It was a graciously-written moment, made all the better by Mike O'Malley's underrated performance: he perfectly nails the awkwardness of a dad talking about sex to his gay son, but he never lets you forget the genuine love he has for Kurt and why he's doing this in the first place.

However, despite the episode's title, there's not much sexy about it. Emma's marriage problems and fear of intimacy are annoying, and the writers still haven't made us really care about her as a character. The Puck-Lauren subplot about making a sex tape was an icky one-note joke, and Rachel returned to bitch-mode, a depressing turn for the character. And the Warblers were again shoehorned into the episode with a performance of Neon Trees' "Animal" (which, on a personal note, is ridiculously overplayed in these parts, as is Boys Like Girls' "The Great Escape" for completely unknown reasons); it wasn't a great performance, and it was completely random, including soap suds and breakdancing. It was pointless, and only brought down the episode.

"Sexy" lacks a lot of sexiness, but it does have a couple of solid emotional moments. Apparently we're going to Regionals again next week. We'll see if it lives up to previous competition episodes.

- Sue was barely in this episode, making an appearance in only one scene.

- For the record, "Kiss" is a very sexy song, but the sexiest of all time? That honor belongs to Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You."

- The joke behind the "Afternoon Delight" was lame, and the performance wasn't necessary, but I would be remiss to say I don't enjoy hearing that song.

- Remember when Charice's character Sunshine was introduced in the second-season premiere, with Cheyenne Jackson as her handler? Whatever happened to her?

- Wit 'n' Wisdom of Sue Sylvester: "I'm getting some coffee. I like my enemas piping hot."

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