Brittersweet Reflections: The Britney Episode of Glee

Spoiler alert: I don’t like Glee.

I just don’t. I’m not trying to be ‘a hater.’ Lord knows, I’ve tried so many times to like this forsaken show. This episode now marks my fifth attempt to engage with this program, and trust me, I really wanted to like it–especially for tonight’s show.

First, let’s be clear here: I’m not that douche who turns his nose up at something merely because it’s popular. I run a fucking pop blog. Contrary to what more than a few people have accused me of, I’m not ‘just trying to be cool’ by going against the grain (which, ironically enough, is just what the show supposedly embraces.) Glee just happens to suck.

For a show that’s about ’embracing the underdogs’, I think Glee reinforces stereotypes much more often than it empowers (having the one handicapped cast member sing “Stronger” while lifting weights and being hoisted into the air by the other football players–are you kidding me right now? Is that supposed to be funny? Or inspirational? Because it felt like a mockery to me), and–with the exception of two killer personalities (Brittany and Sue Sylvester), I can’t relate to or enjoy any of the characters in the slightest. Yes, that includes the stereotypical gay.

In any given episode, there are usually about three or four killer lines (Sue’s monologue about Hubert Humphrey and the Democratic National Convention tonight was especially amazing, for example), but the majority of the lines that aren’t killer literally destroy the entire experience. There’s a lot of mediocrity involved in the show’s dialogue. Like, BEYOND bad writing. And not in a cheesy-good-drama kind of way–I’m all for a Degrassi marathon whenever it comes on TV–but this? No, my friends…no.

I mean–what was that final line tonight from Lea Michele? “I was strangling you in my hands like a little bird. I get now that in order for this relationship to work I have to put out my hands and let you fly free”? Or from the football coach: “Don’t just stare at me like a donkey with a wooden leg.” MISERABLE! How is that not a brake-screeching WTF writing fail for so many viewers?

Sometimes the writing doesn’t even make sense: When Emma has a heart-to-heart with Will toward the end of the episode she says, and I quote: “You ever notice that Britney Spears only makes great music when she’s not chasing down paparazzi? She can’t just swallow a grenade and let her talent explode all over the wall. She’s gotta reign it in–just like you do.” I literally had no idea what the fuck it meant, and I sure as hell still don’t.

I suppose there’s a small chance that the true ‘genius’ of Glee is to delight in its own horribly embarrassing cliches and stereotypes, but I honestly believe that is to grant the show’s writers far too much credit.

…But I’ve gone on too long about Glee in general. Tonight was about Britney!

And indeed, for the first ten minutes, the show was an excellent, giggle-fest of Britney praise and silly humor. The Britney/Brittany S. Pierce bit was witty (as I just said, the Brittany character and her deadpan delivery style is an incredible asset to this program), followed by the seemingly senseless segue into the dentist’s office as a catalyst for the entire cast to experience ~Britney visions~ while under anesthesia. (I don’t know why an entire class is going to the dentist in shifts, BUT OKAY PLOT MOVING SO QUICKLY 1, 2, 3 AND GO!)

Brittany’s “Slave” performance was about as spot-on as you could get in honoring the original Britney experience: From pulling off the outfit(s) (I’m still not sure why “Oops” outfit required her to be surrounded by Gothic (?) children (?!), but whatever), to nailing the dancing, to singing the song.

She shined again in the “Me Against The Music” montage with Santana, although that initial Britney cameo was just a sloppy, awkward situation (“You’re hot,” moans Brittany. “Thanks. You’re sweet!” Britney chirps, over-enthusiastically and completely off beat.)

But from there on, things just got more and more shit.

“…Baby One More Time” was hideously over-acted thanks to Lea Michele’s gaping mouth lip-synch styling (or as my friend David so perfectly described the cover when it first leaked, “excruciatingly earnest”), while “Stronger,” as I said before, was just sort of embarrassing for everyone involved.

And let’s not forget the grand finale: The ~salacious~ near-acoustic rendition of “Toxic,” performed by the Glee cast. So sexy! So very sexy that the show’s writers thought they needed to have the horny dork screaming “SO SEXY!” at the performers while thrusting his hips, rubbing himself, and basically just losing his shit for the entire sequence.

As with this entire series, IT JUST DIDN’T MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE. Why was he behaving like that?! It was so excessive and uncomfortable. And that wasn’t even slightly a sexy performance–there were jazz hands involved! It was like they took a sequence from Chicago and glossed it over with extra clothing and less moaning to be aired on the Disney Channel. Are you kidding me with this marshmallow fluff?

But alright, let’s get on with it: My main point of contention comes in the last few minutes of the episode, in which everyone returns to order following the shock and horror of the “Britney Spears sex riot” (which, by the way, isn’t exactly a knee-slapper of a phrase. Stop quoting it.)

So they all group back together in the rehearsal room and Will comes in to announce that, while Britney’s music “and celebrity” (?) indeed inspired the entire troupe to find themselves, it was ultimately time to say goodbye to Brit Brit and return to adult contemporary music. Moreover, the overall message seemed to be that one needed to be under the influence of drugs, sexually repressed, or both just to enjoy Britney’s music, and now it was time to return to ‘real music.’

After an entire episode that seemingly celebrated her music over the past ten years, we were left with the ultimate hypocrisy: Britney’s music simply ‘isn’t for us.’

And that’s what bothered me the most. The fact that this ‘groundbreaking’ series about society’s cast-offs and underdogs was essentially spewing the same moralistic, squeaky clean, cookie-cutter, social conservative BULLSHIT that I’ve battled as a fan since the very beginning: That Britney Spears is ultimately nothing more than a slut. That Britney Spears doesn’t equate to real music. But this Paramore track? Now that is real emotion.

As a fan, I took the ending as a complete and utter slap in the face.

Now, let us all watch Leah Michelle dedicate this touching little ditty to her on-again, off-again boyfriend and cry at the realization that she was limiting him from the one thing he loves most…football. Perrrrfect.

I hereby knight this episode with a most heartfelt “BITCH PLZ.”

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