When I heard the kids at McKinley were getting their groove on this week on Glee I flashed back to the “Like a Virgin” number from season one and wondered which Rihanna song they would use to vocally violate each other. The cynical me was assuming that somehow they would screw this up. Instead Team Glee treated us to a solid hour of television about teen sex that was neither gratuitous nor tawdry but still managed to upset one or two concernstipated conservative groups. Well done Glee for taking something that could have been a mess of bad porn dialogue and clumsy foreplay montages and turning out something respectable and downright sweet.
The hormonal pot at McKinley is stirred when Artie suggests that Rachel “Put A Berry on Top” Berry (Lea Michele) and Blaine “Sex on a Stick” Anderson cannot possibly convey the emotions required to play Maria and Tony in West Side Story if they haven’t had sex. I could totally buy into Rachel’s untarnished chastity but Blaine can fornicate with a glance and the poor boy just can’t help it. The fact that he seems so clueless about it just makes him sexier and demonstrates what a talent Darren Criss is.
Faced with this new information about how she can improve her performance Rachel leaps into action and directly onto lanky and clumsy Finn (Cory Monteith) whom she plans to violate before opening night. Blaine seems a bit more perplexed by the situation until he meets resident rogue and sexual predator Sebastian Smythe (Grant Gustin) who is the newest Warbler and wears the navy blue blazer well. Sebastian is a bit of a cad and reminds me a lot of another famous Sebastian of the Manhattan Valmonts who was also devastatingly attractive and morally loose. Sebastian makes a play for Blaine and invites him out to the local gay bar Scandals.
Oh Scandals. Kudos to Glee for getting the small town gay bar so very very right. Atlanta is not really a small town but we have bars exactly like that, ones I used to hang out in quite a bit back in the 90s (Buddies I’m looking at YOU). It was nice to see a gay bar portrayed as something other than a bath house for Abercrombie models with coke addictions for a change. I do wish Kurt had struck up a conversation with the Cher drag queen though. Oh missed opportunities.
Back to the sex. Typically on Glee when fornication is involved things go horribly wrong so when Rachel reveals she decided to give Finn her precious flower to help her acting it was no shock that he responded badly. A drunk Blaine doesn’t fair much better after a night of dancing at Scandals. Poor Sebastian’s plan backfired a bit and sent Blaine running into Kurt’s pants at the end of the night, but when Blaine tries to manhandle Kurt in the car he gets rebuffed and storms off. All this drama was juxtaposed with thoughtfully performed songs from West Side Story, a musical I’ve never really cared for and am not afraid to admit it. Revoke my Gay Card if you must. The interest rate is too high anyway.
The kids weren’t the only ones getting lucky this week though. In one of the weirder subplots we’ve seen on Glee Artie (Kevin McHale) counsels Coach Bieste on her love life and after a pep talk with the hunky coach Cooter from Ohio State he manages to get the two out on a date. I love that Coach Bieste (Dot Marie Jones) is getting some hunky love but the scenario with Artie was just a bit too weird for me. I enjoyed his insecurity about directing to be more compelling by far and his speech about being in a wheelchair was very touching.
Opening night comes and goes with everyone still a virgin, but it isn’t long before the fire in their loins erupts and our favorite McKinley virgins take that very after-school-special next step toward adulthood complete with soft lighting and creative camera angles. When Rachel and Blaine take to the stage for their post-coital performance they are positively glowing with sexual awareness. This pivotal episode stumbled a bit here and there but overall it was good stuff and there was plenty of drama. I really felt for Finn when he had his meltdown after being told his football career was ending in high school. Cory Monteith did a fine job conveying Finn’s sense of hopelessness knowing that Rachel is destined for a bright career on Broadway and he feels his options are gone. Her response that his “dreams are not dead, he just outgrew them” was perfect. And I enjoyed the closure that came with Kurt’s encounter with his former nemesis and newly hatched bear cub Dave Karofsky at Scandals. I hope that isn’t the last we see of Max Adler. The confrontation between Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr) and his father before opening night seemed a bit out of place though. I get that they needed to explain his Dad’s reaction but it felt a bit like a scene they couldn’t find a place for.
What about the music? I’ve said before West Side Story isn’t one of my favorites but there are some decent songs from it. Blaine and Rachel’s “Tonight” is decent enough given it was performed before their sexual awakening. The Warblers had some fun with Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” but without Blaine on lead it lacked something. The choreography was tight though. The real treat this week was Santana who made “A Boy Like That” and “America” her bitches. Rachel and Blaine rounded out the hour with “One Hand, One Heart” over the foreplay montage.
It is very annoying that this episode is treated as something so controversial and polarizing when teens are having sex on TV all the time in other shows that no one seems to get upset about. I suspect the fact that Glee does pull in a bit younger demographic than they really intended to has something to do with it, but I think the larger issue with concernstipated conservatives is not so much that teens are having sex on Glee but that gay teens are. No one seems at all upset that Puck routinely sleeps with older women while cleaning their pools.
Next week it appears Glee is diving headlong into the rival glee club drama and Puck is making his move on Shelby.