This week’s episode was so quintessentially teenage in its themes that I pretty much forgot that many of the characters involved are technically adults. In true high school form, it was pretty much all about coolness – trying to be cool, wanting to be cool, and figuring out if cool really matters at all. From the show’s perspective, it was also about moving on from the Finn tribute with some awesome costumes and fun music.
And since we’re talking about coolness, I’ll start this recap off with a decidedly uncool admittance: This episode was my primary education in two contemporary pop music icons. Since I’m a bit of a fogie when it comes to my music tastes, these pop-centric “Glee”episodes always leave me feeling a little uncool. I’m usually hearing the gang’s Kelly Clarkson and Ke$ha selections for the first time. I’m definitely the type of viewer who grumbles about the good old days when the Glee Club sang exclusively classic rock anthems and show tunes.
But times are a-changin’, and people would rather listen to Top 40 mash-ups than the same two Journey songs over and over again. And y’know, I can definitely see the fun in it. (Plus, I’m sure we’ll get a heavy dose of show tunes once “Funny Girl” moves into rehearsals.) I can see the appeal of glitzy, techno-y dance numbers to catchy pop songs, especially when our last night spent in Lima came with a heavy dose of the sads. So it seems fitting for “Glee” to take a break from the heavy stuff and let these kids think about something other than death, to get fired up about something less consequential than the right way to grieve.
So they traded memories of Finn for a battle of the pop stars: Gaga or Perry – which Queen of Catch are you? And which is cooler? It’s “Mary Ann or Ginger”, “Betty or Veronica” for the new millennium. The kind of game where the choice a person makes says more about how they think of themselves than it says about who they really are. But it’s a fun thought experiment, even if it does feel like the kind of gimmick baristas use to get more quarters in their twin tip jars. But hey, like I said – this week is all about fun. No more gloom. Just cool. That’s why Adam Lambert’s here! A flamboyant dude in a sequined top hat, Spice-worthy flatforms, and the bossest eyeliner game this side of Heidi Klum’s Instagram is just the shot in the arm we needed.
Lambert’s here because Kurt’s starting a band! Why did it take so long for this to happen?! But why can’t he do that one-man show, too?! I want it all! I’m really just waiting for Kurt’s spinoff, where he moves to LA to be his sweet, freaky self in the Big Time (and his dad goes with him, ’cause I love me some Burt). In the meantime, though, Kurt’s wrestling with his feelings of inadequacy. He’s worried he’s not cool enough for showbiz. But Rachel reminds him that it’s not about cool; it’s about authenticity. ‘Cause being yourself is the coolest cool there is (hey, no ever said “Glee” wasn’t sappy).
When Sam thinks his precious Penny is disturbingly into Skrillex (which I might’ve originally thought was just a haircut), he worries he might not be cool enough for her, so he latches onto this Gaga thing pretty hard. But, as is always the case in the “Glee” universe, “cool” is a matter of taste, and it turns out that Penny’s taste in cool is pretty close to Sam’s. That’s love, isn’t it? Listening to the Jonas Brothers together? Being uncool together – or at least aligning your ideas of cool so that when you’re together, you’re cool in each other’s eyes?
The most exciting plot line here should be that Marley worries she’s not cool enough for Puck’s brother. Teen sex and abstinence! Pink wigs! Tears! But these two are so dull that I would actually rather hear Mr. Schue talk about Spanish conquistadors than follow their relationship drama. Am I wrong? With all this talk about not needing to be cool, have I judge this couple too harshly? They’re just being their authentically dull selves, and authenticity is cool, so..?
For Glee Club in general, the coolness factor is in question when they find out there’s a new enemy on their horizon. Throat Explosion is New Directions’ challenge for Nationals (’cause Vocal Adrenaline is SO last season). They wear creepy masks and make ample use of fog machines, and they are confident and talented and SO COOL. But by the end of their Katy vs. Gaga soul searching, it’s pretty clear that New Directions is gonna be a’ight. They’re cool in their own misfit, slushy-covered way. Smoke machines be damned!
So, what did you think of this post-Finn episode? Do you think colonoscopy Sue is more grumpy than regular Sue? Are you as over Sam’s Pitt hair as I am? And I almost don’t wanna ask, but… are you a Katy or a Gaga? (BTW, I think you’re super cool either way!)
Hannah McIlveen is a freelance graphic designer and TV-obsessed writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She grew up riding horses and reading Roald Dahl books, got an art degree, and then spent the next several years moving around the country and watching television. Her greatest goals in life are to write good stuff, produce a web series, build a house with her husband, and have six cats at once. Hannah has contributed to BitchMagazine.org and is a staff blogger for the soon-to-launch TeenSized.com. She also writes her own daily blog, Click Watch Write. Hannah can be accosted on Twitter @ClickWatchWrite.