Review of Glee ‘Naked’
SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 12 series 4 of ‘Glee’
This series blog is following the Sky 1 broadcast schedule of ‘Glee’ in the UK.
The Warblers have been disqualified, leaving New Directions the winners of sectionals. It’s a bit strange, given that New Directions were disqualified and there was another show choir performing that weren’t disqualified at all. This is another leaky storyline but it’s been and gone so quickly that we barely have time to register that in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t make any sense at all.
Regardless, it seems the New Directions are going to regionals and they need money to pay for the transport. Last time they sold baked goods which Puck (Mark Salling) had laced with drugs to make people buy more. This time Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) suggests that the men in glee club pose for a calendar. Half-naked.
This plotline allows for two different responses to nudity to develop within the group. Firstly, Sam (Chord Overstreet) is enthusiastic about the prospect of being half-naked – we know he has already worked as a stripper before. However, he throws himself into it with reckless abandon when he finds out from Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba) that he got the worst SAT score in the year. His score is in fact “routinely bested by monkeys”. Sam sets about ruthlessly training the men of McKinley, and they perform a workout to a mashup of Nelly’s Hot In Herre and Centerfold. The performance is pretty good, and as is to be expected, there’s a lot of work-out scenes and huffing and puffing.
The thing is, it’s pointed out that he’s using his fitness and his body to overcompensate for not doing well academically, and it transpires that he feels pretty worthless, and his body is really the only thing he’s got going for him. At the end of the episode, Blaine (Darren Criss) shows Sam a video that he’s made of all his classmates talking about what he’s done for them and how great he is. This is the emotional moment of the episode, where Sam realises that actually he has achieved a lot, and that he’s more than a hot body.
However, Artie (Kevin McHale) has exactly the opposite problem: he doesn’t want to pose for the calendar because he isn’t comfortable with his body; it’s “broken”, as he puts it. Eventually he does, on the condition that he’s allowed to keep his clothes on and that he won’t feel odd fully-clothed next to the others in the group. Both the nudity angles with Artie and Sam prove the point that it isn’t just women who have body confidence issues, and that men feel insecure about the way they look too.
Amusingly, in a very small side plot, we find out through this calendar that Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) has posed naked for a magazine before. She would normally step in to prevent them from doing it, but Finn (Cory Monteith) tricks her into admitting her past. Although she is ruthless about destroying the glee club, it seems a bit strange that other teachers in the school aren’t angry about their students posing half-naked in a calendar. If anything, this is one of the most legitimate things that Sue has gotten angry about, and yet apparently none of the other teachers have even noticed that this is going on.
Things are going quite quickly for Marley (Melissa Benoist) and Jake (Jacob Artist). Brittany (Heather Morris) invites Marley to ‘Fondue for two’ and asks her if she loves Jake, putting her in a tight spot. She encourages Marley to tell him how she feels, and Marley later asks him to sing a duet – Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years. The duet is really beautiful and suits their voices really well. In fact, this is perhaps the best song in the episode though the competition is tough this week.
She almost tells him she loves him but stops at the last minute, saying she “really loves this song”. Jake speaks to his new wingman Ryder (Blake Jenner) and asks for advice, and he says that women want to see men ‘naked’ in their emotions. It’s a bit frustrating that Jake seems totally incompetent at pursuing and continuing a relationship with Marley on his own and is becoming reliant on Ryder for advice. Ryder likes Marley and has done for a while, so although he said he’ll back off, I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this bizarre love triangle.
On Ryder’s advice, Jake sings Let Me Love You by Ne-Yo, but it’s an acoustic, slower version. Jacob’s voice is beautiful and so well suited to it. I love the different arrangement of the song. It seems like they changed the range of the song to suit his voice, and made it more of a romantic song than a dance song like the original. Brilliant.
Over in New York, Rachel (Lea Michele) is asked to participate in a student film where her character needs to be topless. She wrestles with her ‘old’ self and her ‘new’ self, and sings Torn with… herself. The way the producers choreographed and filmed these twin-Rachel scenes is really interesting and innovative for Glee. She is obviously trapped between her old values and not wanting to stop herself from moving forward in her career. Torn is an excellent choice for this scene.
Eventually she decides that she can do it, but the reactions of her friends vary. Brody (Dean Geyer) is supportive and takes to wandering around the apartment naked which upsets Kurt (Chris Colfer). When Rachel and Brody explain why he’s wandering around naked, Kurt verges on slut-shaming Rachel which is entirely out of the blue for him.
He tells Rachel she’s a “slutty Barbie” and that he disapproves of nearly all the decisions she’s made since coming to New York. He apparently doesn’t know who she is any more because she’s doing all the things the Old Rachel would never do. Though I get the feeling that as a character, Kurt would legitimately disapprove of her decision to be topless, I never expected the writers to make him fully slut-shame which is hugely disappointing.
Later in the episode Kurt calls in Quinn (Diana Agron) and Santana (Naya Rivera) to do an intervention and talk to Rachel about the topless scene. Santana says it’s a bad idea and that she’ll regret it in the future, citing her experience with a sex tape that’s now online forever. Quinn implores her to consider the ‘2-2-2 rule’ – how will she feel in two weeks, two months, and two years?
When it comes to filming, Rachel bows out of it, not wanting to go topless. She realises that it’s fine to be topless as an actress but that she just isn’t ready – yet. This is interesting because it’s an industry statement about the pressure young actresses feel to go topless or nude to try and get more work and make a name for themselves. This is a topic that has come up quite often of late, with people arguing about popular HBO series Game of Thrones, and its use of gratuitous female nudity. More recently, Downton Abbey actress Jessica Brown-Findlay spoke about the pressure young women feel to do nude scenes, and says she was naive to go topless. It poses the question, how much are you willing to do for your art?
After this, the three girls sing Love Song together in a scene reminiscent of the old Glee episodes. It’s great to see them back together because the girls’ voices work very well together on these kinds of songs, and as much as Quinn is an annoyance of a character, the dynamic between her and the other characters is rather missed on the show.
At the end of the episode the New Directions members sing This is the New Year together which is a great song to end on. It’s a positive vibe as usual, but in terms of plot it feels like of late like every single episode is a standalone episode with very little background. So much has been forgotten or forgiven in a world (high school) where there’s very little forgiveness. We still haven’t had a proper apology or acknowledgement that Kitty (Becca Tobin) was in fact responsible for Marley’s bulimia. We don’t know how well Marley’s treatment is going. And where’s coach Bieste (Dot Marie Jones) when the students want some much-needed sage advice?
Season four is starting to feel really obviously messy and hurriedly put together without a thought as to continuity of storylines or making the fictional world function in a realistic and believable way. The problems that the characters face appear and disappear as and when it’s convenient, rather than something that affects them on a day to day basis. However, Santana hinted at moving to New York (“I could get used to this”), so perhaps we’ll see more of Naya Rivera in future episodes. If the writers could remember that.Tagged in: Blaine, Brittany, Brody, Chris Colfer, Dean Geyer, Finn, Glee, Jane Lynch, Kurt, Lea Michele, Santana
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