February 22, 2011

Episode Review: GLEE, "Blame It On The Alcohol"

After seeing the sneak peek of "Blame It On The Alcohol", I was convinced that it was going to be my least favorite episode of Glee because I was afraid it would be another one of the preachy, PSA versions of the show. Fortunately, it wasn't that bad, but I still didn't love it either.

Figgins was fighting an epidemic of drunkenness at McKinley, and recruited Schue and New Directions to sing a song that highlighted the evils of alcohol. Conveniently, Rachel's dads were out of town and was convinced to throw a party after her first attempt at songwriting bombed. You see, she figured she cannot write about living since she hasn't lived which meant she had to get sloppy drunk. During the Rachel Berry House Party Train-wreck Extravaganza, our diva kissed Blaine during a game of spin-the-bottle which kicked off one of the minor plotlines of the night. Blaine's kiss with Rachel made him start questioning whether he's gay or maybe bisexual, and this revelation upset Kurt. The two had a tiff about their identities, but all was right with the world after a second kiss and Blaine realized that he's 100% gay.

The Rachel/Blaine/Kurt mini-triangle was a nice diversion from all of the other love triangles that have been going on. While it was obvious that the kiss shared between Rachel and Blaine was only a plot device to bring up the topic of sexual identity, the chemistry between Lea and Darren was evident, and I'd like to see them team up more often. As for the discussion itself, I welcomed the fact that the show addressed bisexuality because it's dismissed too often and used as a joke, but I felt that the fight between Blaine and Kurt was effective without being too sanctimonious. Sure, the punch was softened when Blaine realized that he's gay, but kudos none the less.

Kurt was in his full drama queen mode since he was threatened by Rachel and her attempts to turn Blaine once and for all. I can definitely understand why so many people dislike the character when he's like this, but I just chalked up his overreaction to the fact that he's young, crushing, and jealous. Plus, catty Kurt gave us some killer lines, so all was forgiven.

The alcohol theme was very present in Will's story as Sue kept trying to help him and his pre-alcoholism which will be induced by the fact that she'll beat him at regionals. While dealing with Sue, he also had to face his feelings for Emma, and it was Coach Beiste who volunteered to help him take his mind off of his troubles by taking him to a honky-tonk bar. After a fun night out, Will drunk dialed Emma which ended up coming back to bite him because he called Sue by accident, and she used his voicemail to humiliate him in front of the the entire school.

While writing that summary, I tried to figure out what Will's story had to do with anything, and I guess it was just to show that he's still not quite over Emma and how using alcohol to cure heartache can backfire. Or maybe I'm just over-thinking the meaning behind his actions.

The rest of the episode focused on New Directions getting wasted and the ramifications of their actions. I for one really wasn't too jazzed about watching the glee kids getting drunk and making fools of themselves, but that has more to do with the fact that I'm not a big drinker and I don't think watching drunk people is all that entertaining. In some ways Glee wanted to straddle the line when it came to underage drinking. The writers didn't want to be overly sermonizing, so the message focused more on drinking responsibly, being aware of the potential drawbacks of alcohol, but the characters didn't have to face any real consequences either. If anything this episode condoned underage drinking instead of condemning it. While I didn't want another PSA, this non-committal approach was half-baked and even more distracting. Still, the show tried to give a somewhat realistic discussion about drinking, and should be commended for the effort.

The alcohol awareness theme did allow for some great jokes and funny moments, but it also had its faults. First off, the fact that alcohol has never really been addressed before tonight made the episode stick out. There were times where Puck talked about drinking, but I never got the impression that these kids are always partying but they seemed to be experts. I'm not saying that the show needs to constantly deal with underage drinking, but shining a light on it tonight felt insincere. Also, I found myself getting really annoyed with Quinn as she kept calling Schue a hypocrite. The whole "you drink so you can't tell us what to do" argument that kids spout off is so played out and short sighted because it tries to negate the fact that adults can drink legally. I was just bummed that they used that reasoning as a crutch.

On the music front: The only song I recognized was "Don't You Want Me", and I really enjoyed Blaine and Rachel's version. Maybe it's because I have no idea what constitutes popular music in this day and age, but I did not care for "Blame It" or "Tik Tok", and it didn't help that the lighting during the numbers was horrible. I did appreciate the show going a little bit bluesy with "One Bourbon, One Shot, One Beer" though.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Rachel's "My Headband" was gloriously bad.
  • An episode where Brittany runs around in her bra can't be that bad.
  • Ditto for an episode that incorporates Brittana body shots.
  • Drunk Rachel was further proof that Lea Michele can be a gifted comedic actress.
  • I haven't said this in a while, but I HATE Artie.
  • Is it odd that the most functional relationship on this show is between Will and Beiste? I do love them together.
  • Apparently Brittany left her bra in Rachel's basement. Wanky.
  • Burt and Kurt's fight about Blaine staying over would've worked better in a different episode. While the situation fit this one, the tone of the argument didn't mesh well with everything else that was going on. It was well-acted per usual.
  • I'm pretty sure Brittany's had more solos than Mercedes this season. What did Amber Riley do to piss off Ryan Murphy?
  • Will's sober pledges did veer off into the preachy zone, and I could've done with out it. Plus, the kids are going to go back to their rockstar ways once they're done with Nationals, so what's the point?
  • "It tastes like PINK!"
  • "I can't believe what you did to my body. I used to have abs!"
  • "No me gusta."
  • "I sat through that whole Brokeback Mountain. From what I gather, something went down in the tent."
"Blame It On The Alcohol" was trying to be edgy and safe at the same time, and the outcome was kind of underwhelming. While it wasn't a particularly good episode of Glee (and yes they do exist), there were enough laughs to keep it from being a complete disaster. I still believe that this show can be great if it can find some focus, but more duds like this one will make me start rethinking some things.


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