The Glee club gets inventive in their war with Sue Sylvester, humiliating her by putting a stolen jazzercise video on YouTube. This sets the scene for Sylvester’s biggest defeat of the season so far, and her floundering to regain her dignity. And this time, shouting at Figgins isn’t going to help – all those peons who Sue looks down on are now laughing at her.
As you all know by now, Sue’s reputation is rescued by one Olivia Newton-John. They remake her Physical video, it gets released to YouTube and goes even more viral, but Sylvester’s more knowing performance makes it look like she’s more in control. Two things ruin this storyline completely:
- The shameless and completely unnecessary kissing of Newton-John’s ass. Far too much dialogue was devoted to fauning over ONJ’s post-Grease achievements and charity work and blah blah blah.
- Conceptually, it’s a complete lift of the “Sue remakes a pop video” concept we had in the Power Of Madonna episode. It’s far too soon to have Sue repeating herself.
Better moments were to be had when Schuester tells the Glee club to find songs that have a “bad reputation” and make them good. He hammers his point home with a group rendition of Ice Ice Baby. There’s something cringe-inducing about Matthew Morrison’s lip-syncing performances. It doesn’t make them any less enjoyable – in fact, they do bring on goosebumps of excitement, but that guy just reeks of Eau de Loving Himself, doesn’t he?
The dweeb-squad’s rendition of U Can’t Touch This wasn’t quite the high point it should have been. However, Rachel’s Run Joe, Run was fantastically overblown and self-indulgent. Totally in keeping with her character, right down to the bit of master manipulation involved in getting all three love interests (Finn, Jesse and Puck) to play the same part in her video.
The biggest problem for Glee at the moment is that the characters seem to be blown around by the ‘theme’ of the episode rather than have a linear story from episode to episode. Vanity Fair’s Gay Guide to Glee gives a good example in Quinn Fabray’s sudden changes in character from week to week:
Last week, Quinn was all repentant and understanding, giving us the full-on Mariah-in-Precious treatment. This week, she’s gone all Judy Blume, making slam-book lists of who’s hot and who’s not, and taping photocopies all over the school.
Not quite as strong as it could have been, Bad Reputation was patchily entertaining. But there are things that the show need to get right: not grovelling to its guest stars would be one suggestion. If I was a producer, it’d be like “Newton-John, shut the fuck up. I’m doing you a favour. Now lie back and think of the royalties.” Don’t try and convince a disinterested public that she had the biggest hit of the 80s.
And trying to divert the entire cast’s lives to fit the musical theme of the week is only successful some of the time. A bit more consistency for the characters and their storylines please.
Quotes from this episode
- Sue questions Emma Pillsbury’s choice of man: “You nearly married a gym teacher who’s more gravy than man.”
- And then issues some hilariously evil advice: “You need to let Will Schuester know how you he’s made you feel. And in a public setting, so he can’t escape and he can’t manipulate you.”
- Sue: “Don’t mess with me Castle or I will kick you square in the taco.”
- Artie: “I’m kinda getting cold feet here.” Brittany: “Can you even feel your feet?”
- Kurt: “We’re as menacing as Muppet Babies.”
- Quinn: “Thanks Mr Schue. You’re a really good teacher, even if everybody’s calling you a man-whore.”