This week on Glee, Sue Sylvester learned what it's like to be made fun of, Emma slut -shamed Will, and the kids tried to develop bad reputations by singing the cheesiest hits of the '70s, '80s, and '90s.
The episode "Bad Reputation" starts off with Kurt stealing an embarrassing video of Sue performing "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John. Along with Mercedes, Artie, Finn, and Tina, he decides to post the video on YouTube and it promptly goes viral, making Sue the laughing stock of McKinley High.
Sue talks with her sister Jean, who reminds her that there's always someone worse off than you. This inspires Sue to tell Emma that Will made out with Idina Menzel and shared a bed with Kristin Chenoweth, and Emma screams at him in the faculty lounge. On the one hand, it's satisfying to see Emma stand up for herself and Will face some consequence for being (sort of) unfaithful for her. On the other hand, it's creepy that everyone shouts "slut" at Will throughout the episode, especially since he didn't actually have sex with either woman.
While Mr. Shue is condemned for his minor philandering, his students hope to follow in his footsteps. A "Glist" ranking the New Directions kids by perceived promiscuity is posted (by Quinn, we find out later), and the kids decide the road to coolness is paved with misbehavior. In keeping with the "bad reputation" theme, Mr. Schuester tells the kids to find uncool songs and rehabilitate them.
It's a great concept, but the show didn't deliver. The songs were more upbeat and entertaining than those in the last episode, but wouldn't "rehabilitating" bad songs mean interpreting them in a new and creative way? Glee could have tried an awesome acoustic version of "U Can't Touch This" (OK, that may be impossible), but instead the kids do the song karaoke-style.
The same goes for the "Physical" music video. After seeing Sue's YouTube video, Olivia Newton-John calls her and asks her to do remake. On the phone, Olivia explains several times that "Physical" was a HUGE HIT in the '80s, lest we question Sandy's idol status.
Jane Lynch is fantastic in every scene she's in, but like the much-hyped Madonna "Vogue" video, "Physical" would be a just a shot-for-shot remake of the original if not for Sue's snarky facial expressions.
The cast is talented enough to pull off an actual spoof of these videos, so unless the people behind the scenes are worried they'll hurt the artists' fragile egos, it's unclear why they're afraid to stage these songs in a more creative way.
Since Rachel declares that with this glee club assignment, "Rachel Berry is going to get a little down and dirty... Rachel Berry is going to become musically promiscuous," you would expect her to perform something like "Dirrty" or "I'm A Slave For You." (For proof that Lea Michele can shed her grandma/two-year-old style, check out the May issue of the British mag ASOS.)
Instead we get "Run Joey Run," which as Rachel explains, most younger viewers have never heard of. Puck, Finn, and Jesse get upset with her when they realize she asked all three of them to star in the boyfriend role, and Jesse dumps her.
Jesse's behavior is a little confusing, since it originally appeared that he was only dating her as part of an evil plot hatched by Idina Menzel. Presumably we'll learn more about his motives in future episodes.
Jesse and Rachel's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" duet was the best song in the episode, possibly because their ballet class lent itself to some more creative choreography. Or maybe because it's one of those cheesy songs everyone secretly loves — notice how no one had to preface this song by explaining people actually liked it 30 years ago.
Glee's Lea Michele, ASOS UK May 2010 [SassiSam]