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Review of Glee ‘Glease’

Sophie Warnes

Glee Season 4 Episode 6 Glease 6 300x207 Review of Glee Glease

SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 6 series 4 of ‘Glee’.

This series blog is following the Sky 1 broadcast schedule of ‘Glee’ in the UK.

Following on from last week’s auditions and castings, this week is Grease-themed. It’s school musical time, and as one of the most memorable, well-known, well-loved musicals, Grease is the perfect choice for the producers to try and get those ratings up. Ratings have halved since the first season and have been dwindling even more so of late (undoubtedly, because Glee has a habit of being god-awful terrible in between bouts of pure comedy gold and genius scriptwriting) so I’m sure this had a part to play in their choice.

Glee hasn’t really been a stranger to controversy this season – notably, with the addition of Wade ‘Unique’ Adams (Alex Newell), who was born a boy but wants to be a woman. I think they’ve treated it fairly sensitively thus far and Unique’s part in this episode worked realistically. Her parents are worried about her safety, because they live in Ohio which isn’t really the most liberal or understanding of communities. I was looking forward to seeing Unique strut her stuff as Rizzo.

Last week Finn (Cory Monteith) called Sue’s (Jane Lynch) baby ‘retarded’, which naturally ruffled everyone’s feathers. He apologised then, but this week there’s a more heartfelt apology. He knows it’s wrong. We know it’s wrong. Interestingly, outside of Glee itself, Lauren Potter (who plays Becky) and Jane Lynch were involved in a small campaign against the r-word, appearing in this YouTube video comparing the word to minority slurs.

So Glee can deal with controversial or difficult storylines well. But I’m not sure about the eating disorder storyline involving Marley (Melissa Benoist). There are so many things wrong here that it doesn’t feel like the writers are treating eating disorders appropriately. There are plot holes aplenty – surely Marley realises she fits perfectly into her normal clothes? Why does she believe Kitty (Becca Tobin) when she says if she throws up she’ll lose two inches instantly? After all Marley has been bullied by Kitty at the sleepover.

What’s more shocking than the Swiss cheese-thin plot is Marley’s mother’s (Trisha Rae Stahl) response to her daughter’s turmoil. She says she’s thin and beautiful – but they will both go on a ‘strict’ diet together. She’s thin and she clearly hasn’t put weight on. Do they not have scales in their house? Clearly not. Is it not hugely unhelpful and unhealthy to make your child go on a diet, thus giving them more issues with food?

While I will always appreciate that the writers are trying to challenge themselves with these sorts of topics, it’s frustrating that they aren’t doing it justice. It seems like eating disorders and the experiences of those who have them just haven’t been researched well or in any depth. I’m not sure this is a responsible move on their part.

Meanwhile, the little flickering of romance between Marley and Ryder (Blake Jenner) was quite cute. He manages to make her laugh when she’s crying, and he kisses her to make her feel better just before they go on stage. Aww… watch this space for a new ‘Finchel’.

Elsewhere, in New York, Cassandra (Kate Hudson) is in full-on bitch mode, discouraging Rachel (Lea Michele) from auditioning for a part in The Glass Menagerie only to then become oddly supportive of her. She asks Brody (Dean Geyer) to be her TA and we later see why she’s so supportive. While this isn’t surprising behavior on Cassandra’s behalf, I feel slightly disappointed in Brody – I thought he liked Rachel enough to respect her and not do something that would so plainly hurt her. She was only away for one weekend!

As Unique isn’t playing the part of Rizzo, someone has to do it. Santana (Naya Rivera) is back in the picture and she is perfect for the part. Tough girl on the outside, sensitive soul on the inside? This role was made for Santana and Rivera does The Worst Thing I Could Do justice. I like how different lines were picked out for three different characters in this song – Cassandra fills in the lines about flirting and being spiteful and jealous as she dances with Brody, and Unique sings about dreams that won’t come true, and how she has feelings like everybody else. Santana ends with ‘to cry in front of you, that’s the worst thing I could do’. Perfect.

This episode, the choreography and the choices of casting in the musical really stood out for me as two things that were great in this episode. Blaine (Darren Criss) singing Beauty School Drop-Out to Sugar (Vanessa Lengies) was surprisingly good – I was disappointed when he didn’t get the role of Danny, but Darren has a more mature face and vocals and this part was suited to him perfectly.

Greased Lightnin’ was choreographed really well – the writers used Sue’s wrath against Finn to make sure that they weren’t in the auditorium which gave them an excuse to rehearse in the garage, and allowed them to explore a different space. It was set up exactly like in the musical and this worked well. The sets in the auditorium are always brilliant but it’s nice to have a different setting every now and again.

For me, Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee fell a bit flat – both times. Firstly, because Kitty used the bulimia encouragement as an excuse to get Marley out of the room to make fun of her, and Kitty is such a hateful character now that it’s quite hard to watch her. Secondly, when Marley is singing it because Ryder says he likes her it was awkward. I felt that it didn’t really need illustrating that he superficially made her feel better about supposedly being fat, even though she is presumably fighting off the effects of having starved herself for a week. Nor did it make a lot of sense to have a reprise there. It may have been better for another character to sing it – Rachel perhaps?

You’re The One That I Want was a perfect near-ending to what was a great musical-themed episode. I loved that the older couples were added in there, and Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Rachel were imagining themselves on stage with their respective partners. Finn’s speech about Rachel’s four cries was also a lovely addition to what was a civil and adult conversation until it deteriorated into “let’s not speak ever again”. I wish the writers would give their characters room to grow rather than allowing them to mature and then immediately giving them childish lines. Finn showed so much promise last week.

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