October 4, 2011

Episode Review: GLEE, "Asian F"

I went into "Asian F" expecting to be disappointed because a.) it was obviously going to rely on Asian stereotypes, and b.) people on the Internet kept talking about how it was the best episode of Glee ever. Well, it did rely on Asian stereotypes, and it was the best episode of Glee in a long time.

I've always been irked that almost every story line/joke that involved Tina and/or Mike had to shine a light on the fact that they're Asian. Go back and watch every episode, and you'll see my point. Now, I never let it upset me too much because everyone on this show is a cliche and get it from all directions. Why should the Token Asians be any different? That being said, the one stereotype that's always bothered me has been the demanding Asian parent. Maybe it's because my mom is Japanese American and never acted that way with us while growing up, but it's never made sense to me, and I cringe when every Asian character has this kind of upbringing.

The promos made it very clear that this was the home life of Mike Chang, so I was immediately on the defensive. Somehow Mike has become one of my favorite characters despite his lack of stories and lines, but I've always found him accessible, so I wasn't happy with the idea that the writers were going to the well that so many others have gone to before. His father was upset that he got an A- (i.e. an Asian F) in chemistry, and he blamed glee club and Tina. Instead of giving it all up, Mike promised he'd work harder, but was sidetracked by his dreams of being an artist. When his mom walked in on him in the dance studio, she showed him support and talked about how she wouldn't let him give up on what he loved like she was forced to do.

Now, I shouldn't have been shocked that Mike's mom was going to be the supportive one because every strict parenting team has the one that wants their kids to be happy instead of just being "successful". It's a trope as old as the overbearing parent, but when she admitted that she wanted to be a dancer and they shared one of the sweetest moments this show has ever given us, I was both floored and moved. On top of that, we also got to see Chang's amazing audition scene where he sang and danced to West Side Story's "Cool". Simply amazing.

Other stuff went on in "Asian F" besides the Asian F, and almost of it worked. The continued casting of West Side Story has been an effective tool during the first three episodes and the closest thing to continuity this show has tried. The underlying tension between Rachel and Mercedes boiled over as they competed for the role of Maria, and while it's all been done before, I still found myself entertained.

I'm glad that the writers are not afraid to take Rachel back to her ambitious but selfish roots because that's the version of the character that I like the most, but they are running the risk of ruining the character for everyone else. I get why people hate Rachel, but you're not supposed to like her very much which is why she can be fascinating. I was also happy to see Mercedes get a story line that didn't involve deep fried deer poop, but I'm still not feeling this whole dueling glee clubs bit.

Since Rachel felt that she was not going to get the part of Maria, she decided to also steal Kurt's spotlight by announcing that she too was interested in running for senior class president. Now, Kurt potentially has Rachel AND Brittany to contend with.

Out of all of the longer-term arcs that this season has presented, the class president one has been my least favorite. First, I'm not a fan of all of the internal drama that it's causing. I know that tension amongst New Directions makes the show tick, but it's starting to feel petty and boring. The show gets enough crap for having too many characters, but I would've preferred watching Kurt take one someone like Sugar instead of Brittany and now Rachel. You'd get the same character development for Kurt without the repetitive power struggle between him and Rachel. Now, some would think that I'd still be happy that Brittany has a bigger role this year, but I'll have to address my feelings about that at a later time.

Tonight's episode also made me realize that I should stop reading Twitter before watching my shows. The so-called "experts" talked about how most of "Asian F" was good except for Will and Emma, so I was expecting the worst. I'll agree that their story was the weakest of the bunch, but it was far from the worst this show has put out there.

Will and Emma's cohabitation has been working so far, but after finding a box of wedding stuff Will started to wonder if he's good enough for Emma. In order to prove that he was worthy to both her and himself, he insisted on meeting her parents but she was hesitant. Of course, he interpreted the trepidation as her being ashamed of him, but we found out that she was ashamed of her parents who ended up being ginger supremacists and the root of her OCD.

While reading the reviews of this episode, many pointed out how over-the-top Emma's parents were, but what else should we expect. With the exception of Burt, Carol and Will's dad, most of the parents' sole purpose is to show how they can mess up their kids' lives. Quinn's parents were like that, so were Puck and Sue's moms, and Mike Chang's father. Yes, the ginger supremacy bit was silly, but the episode needed some lighter moments, so I was fine with it. At least they weren't Nazi hunters.

People were also upset with the fact that Will sang "Fix You", but I saw it as him singing about how helpless he felt when it came to Emma's situation since it was clearly going on in his head. Maybe I'm giving the show too much credit, but I don't think they'd have him try to literally fix her since that didn't go over too well in the past. Then again, who knows?

On the Music Front: We went from only having three songs to having six. Talk about a change of pace. Honestly, the only one I cared about was Mike's version of "Cool", but the Dreamgirls homage was also pretty fun to watch. Again, while I love HeMo, "Run the World (Girls)" was not very good in spite of her sexy outfit.

Other Odds and Ends
  • So Santana's just back? Man, I hope she's going to take New Directions down from the inside.
  • I miss Quinn's pink hair.
  • I have to agree with Will. Mercedes is talented but LAZY!
  • Did Will show Emma his porn collection?
  • I too was bummed when I learned that Ace of Cakes was cancelled.
  • Beiste was on fire tonight!
  • Asian Vampires!
  • Fleet-footed Dance Ninja.
  • Kurt does look like Jimmy Fallon.
  • I can't believe I'm writing this, but I was actually bored while watching Heather Morris dance. That's what happens when you overuse a breakout character.
  • Mike's solo dance scene in the studio was amazing. Seriously, how good was Harry Shum, Jr. tonight?
  • Season 4 should have Shelby as the new glee director and Coach Beiste as a regular. Just saying.
  • How many people are going to get kicked out of New Directions this year?
  • This was a heady episode.
  • I have a feeling that Finn's excitement over winning the coin-toss is going to be his best moment of the season. Poor Cory.
  • "I have ghost parents."
  • "Do you think Wonder Woman hugs the cheetah before the Amazonian smackdown?"
  • "It's what I love to do. It's never going to be a waste of my time." 
  • "Punkin, what the hell are you talking about?"
Can we officially say Glee is back? Probably not, but I can't help but feel encouraged after two weeks of solid episodes, and it's going to be hard to wait until November for a new episode. Damn you America's Past Time!


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