November 8, 2011

Episode Review: GLEE, "The First Time"

We all know that Glee tries to tackle controversial topics, and sometimes they're successful and sometimes we get episodes like "Blame It on the Alcohol." While I gave that one a pass, it wasn't one of Season 2's bright spots, so I was a little unsure if "The First Time" was also going to be on point. After watching the episode, I found myself liking it but not being blown away by it either.

Opening night of West Side Story was just around the corner, so Artie took it upon himself to remind Rachel and Blaine that they're not convincing as burgeoning lovers because they're still virgins. This moment of inappropriateness was the catalyst that kicked off the two main, but related, stories where McKinley's two power couples debated on doing the deed.

Kurt and Blaine have been playing it safe which has caused them to become a little bit itchy, but they're committed to taking it slow. That's until the new Warbler, Sebastian, set his sights on Blaine which brought out the green-eyed monster of Kurt. The two tried to stop playing it safe by joining Sebastian at Lima's upscale gay bar where Blaine got a little tipsy and tried to pressure Kurt to give in, but cooler heads prevailed. Thankfully they did because the small hiccup led to an honest conversation between them, and that led to them being together for the first time.

Blaine's Maria was also on a journey towards losing her virginity to Finn, but it too was not the smoothest of roads. After Finn wined and dined her with the best meat substitute she ever had (oh the possibilities of where that line could go), they were snuggling by the fire and getting ready to go when she let it slip that she had to do it with him before opening night so her performance would seem more credible. Of course, Finn was not in the mood after that one, but they also ended up giving into their desires by episode's end, but it was out of genuine emotion instead of pressure.

The issue of teenage sexuality is one of those hot button issues that Glee could flub up so badly that it could risk ruining the show once and for all. Luckily, "The First Time" addressed the topic in a genuine way that felt earned despite some of the artificial drama that had to be generated like Sebastian and Rachel's need to be convincing as Maria. I thought that the show didn't marginalize sex between teens, and made it a point to focus on how it should be about love and sharing a moment instead of just doing it for the sake of doing it. Now whether Glee had to address the subject is another question altogether, but at least it was better than "Sexy."

Outside of the bed room, the rest of the episode was not as strong. Not only did Artie butt into Rachel and Blaine's love lives, but he felt the need to meddle in Coach Beiste's as well. After an extremely uncomfortable scene where Artie flat out asked her if she had been intimate with a person before, he then convinced the guy she had a crush on to ask her out. Sure, it all worked out in the end, but that doesn't excuse Artie's behavior.

I've never been a fan of Artie even though he was the center of one of this show's best episodes ("Wheels") because he flat out annoys me. I don't like his faux-gangsta speak, his stupid haircut, or his lack of tact. These traits are supposed to make him endearing, but they make me want to punch him. Don't get me started on the unlikelihood of his relationships with Tina and Brittany. So, making him this demented wannabe Cupid just felt out of place and icky, which made me care even less about his aspirations and fears about being a director.

On the Music Front: I think there was only one song that wasn't from West Side Story, the Warbler's version of "Uptown Girl", which was OK I guess. All of the West Side Story songs were top notch, with "America" being the topiest of the notches, and I liked how they used some of the performances to weave in and out of the story moments. Who says this show cannot blend music and plot?

Other Odds and Ends
  • Every time Rachel tells Finn that he cannot kiss his brother, I keep thinking "um, yeah he can."
  • Blaine's dancing in the bedroom didn't quite work for me.
  • I kinda miss the Warblers. Moving Blaine to McKinley was such a huge mistake. Not "Puck kissing Shelby" huge, but still...
  • How good was Santana? And that damn!
  • I'm so glad Dot-Marie Jones was able to salvage her storyline. I'm still rooting for her to become the adult lead next season.
  • Speaking of the adults, very little Will and Emma, and no Sue this week. Maybe that's why it was a better episode.
  • I'm not a big fan of product placement, but the fact that Finn shelled out some bucks for Sara Lee pound cake had me rolling.
  • Kudos to Rachel for being prepared.
  • Tina's story was sweet, but why are they trying to make her relevant all of a sudden?
  • I was disappointed that they felt the need to throw in the Mike Chang aside because it cheapened the goodwill from "Asian F" especially when his father disowned him in such a stereotypical manner. This is an example of how continuity can hurt a show.
  • I know that this is not a popular opinion, but I think Kurtofsky is more interesting than Klaine.
  • Rory as a Shark might have been the best thing this show has ever done.
  • Adding the Jets to "America" was a nice surprise.
  • The possibility of Finn not getting out of Lima could be this season's best arc if they treat it right.
  • Finn: "Why now? The last time we talked about this you said you wanted to wait until you won a Tony."
    Rachel: "Or any other major award. Emmy. Golden Globe. A People's Choice would've gotten you to third base."
  • Cooter: "Jeez. Why don't you get that I'm attracted to you?"
    Beiste: "Because you're the kind of man that could have any pretty girl he pointed at, and I don't look the way pretty girls look."
    Cooter: "Well good. Cause I don't date girls. I just date women. Beautiful you."
"The First Time" was not Glee's funniest episode, and it was a heavier than I would've liked, but I applaud the show for taking teenage sexuality seriously and treating it with some respect. I never felt that the moments shared between the characters were gratuitous or exploitative. Rather they were sweet and intimate. I just wish the rest of the episode could have kept up.


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