November 9, 2010

Episode Review: GLEE, "Never Been Kissed"

Earlier, I wrote about how I was a little unsure about this week's episode of Glee mostly because it looked like the show was going back to the well with the boys vs. girls mash-up challenge. While the assignment for the week was a rehash from last season, the episode's plot really had nothing to do with the competition.

Like many episodes of Glee, "Never Been Kissed" had a lot going on, which can be good in some ways but detrimental in others. People who complain that the show focuses too much on music and not enough on story couldn't use that argument when it came to "Kissed", but those who are frustrated by muddled storytelling had plenty of stones to throw after tonight's episode. I find myself somewhere in the middle.

In one plot, Puck was back from juvie and he convinced his probation officer that helping Artie become cooler should count as community service. This storyline was by far my least favorite of the night because all it did was try to convince people that treating women badly will somehow make you more appealing to them. I got that Puck's act was nothing more than a farce, but it's a message that creeps into pop culture more often than not, and I've never understood it. Sure, we got a little character development as Puck realized he's not as badass as he thought he was, and forming a bond with Artie could lead to some interesting stories, but I just didn't care for this aspect of the episode. Plus, it brought back the whole Artie/Brittany relationship which never made sense to begin with.

The more prominent story had to do with being isolated and harassed for being different, and focused on the lives of Kurt and Coach Beiste. The more serious take on the subject dealt with the constant bullying Kurt has had to endure at McKinnley and how it's been affecting him, while a lighter version of the story dealt with how Beiste reacted when she found out the Gleeks were using images of her to cool themselves off while making out.

The Kurt/Beiste plots had the challenge of walking the line between funny and serious while addressing the very emotional and relevant topic of bullying/teasing. In many ways the show was successful at doing just that, but it wouldn't be Glee if some more jarring moments weren't thrown in for good measure. I don't want to spoil anything, but the climax of both stories involved kisses (hence the title) and neither one felt organic. I understood why the kisses happened, and the meaning behind them, but they just felt hollow. In some ways, they were actually counterproductive. But that's Glee for you.

While I didn't love the Puck/Artie stuff and the Kurt/Beiste moments were mixed, I did find myself laughing more than I anticipated, and I really enjoyed the musical numbers this time around. "Teenage Dream" worked better within the context of the story. The mash-ups were great, and I didn't have a clear favorite (the boys easily won round 1). If I had to pick a winner though, I'd probably have to go with the girls' version of "Start Me Up/Livin' on a Prayer" because they were smokin' in their rocker chick outfits. Oddly enough, I kind of wish we saw more preparation and focus on the competition instead of having to sit through the Puck storyline. Who'd a thunk it?

Other Odds and Ends:
  • I'm sure many were glad to get a break from Rachel and Finn, but I really missed those two tonight.
  • Will once again had me on the fence because he was trying to do the right thing when it came to Coach Beiste's situation, but his actions were still questionable. I actually found myself yelling at my TV.
  • Blaine had a nice introduction, and it looks like he'll fit in well in the Glee universe.
  • Harry Shum, Jr. really capitalizes on what little material he's given ("Stay away from my woman", "And Tina"), and Chang has quickly become one of my favorite characters.
  • So far I'm not loving the treatment of Quinn's character, which is a shame since she's a personal fav. It just feels like she's going backwards. Also, are she and Mercedes no longer friends? What's going on there?
  • I don't know if it was the story, but I didn't realize how little I missed Puck until tonight.
  • "SPIES!"
  • The fact that Puck used "crip" to describe Artie was offensive, but the fact that his PO thought he was talking about the gang was funny.
While I didn't dislike "Never Been Kissed", it didn't wow me either. If anything, I felt indifferent towards the episode. I could appreciate what Brad Falchuk was trying to accomplish with the script, and the music was better than usual, but as a whole the episode was just kind of there. No harm, no foul.


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