SOUND OFF: GLEE Sees Blurred Lines, The End Of Twerking & FUNNY GIRL
A parental advisory warning preceded this week's Glee and it went the distance in justifying it via spicy and sexy takes on twerking, "Blurred Lines" and other current controversial pop culture quirks - tattoos included. But, as always, Glee puts the "werk" in twerk - and, it's got everything but Bette Midler (to quote a certain poetic inscription).
Inspired by Blaine (Darren Criss)'s outlandish and outrageous Miley Cyrus-esque headphone-jam dancing spied by Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) during some downtime between New Directions Glee club sessions, this week's "The End Of Twerk" episode of Glee - written by Wendey Stanzler and directed by Michael Hitchcock - presented the type of episode tackling a current hot button pop culture hallmark only Glee can do real justice to - and dare to do at all, more often than not. But, just remember one thing, now and always: tattoos are permanent, twerking is not!
Rachel (Lea Michele)'s FUNNY GIRL Broadway revival rehearsal process was further developed, especially appreciable to experience for the Broadway babies among us, with a returning Peter Facinelli in his role as the stuffy director, Rupert Campion, and featuring a spunky and cool take on the classic FUNNY GIRL duet "You Are Woman, I Am Man" courtesy of Fanny and her very own Nicky Arnstein, Pablo San Pablo (played by Ioan Gruffudd). What future musical show-stoppers from the sensational Jule Styne/Bob Merrill score shall we enjoy next on the series? Let's hope "The Music That Makes Me Dance" makes the cut at some point, particularly when envisioning the real-life pathos Michele could imbue the song with given her own recent stormy weather. On that note, Rachel's discussion of her grieving process was more than merely apropos given the circumstances of both the characters on the show and the actual actors enacting it all - and her resiliency and resourcefulness in the face of tragedy no doubt mirrors that of the plucky triple-threat trouper herself. Since their introduction, the NYC-set scenes have become highlights of the series and last night was no exception - twerking and mega-hits popping off Back Home notwithstanding.
Speaking of which, back in Lima, OH, at McKinley High, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) proceeded to throw down yet another grandiose gauntlet - declaring war on none other than Miley Cyrus, pledging to end twerking once and for all. "And Hannah Montana can go back to naked straddling the three-ton wrecking ball she was clearly upsold at Home Depot as the tiny cinder-block new room that she is elected to demolish is only about twelve square feet and already has a wall missing." Truly, nobody says it better - or worse - than Sue!
"The fact is, twerking is about blurring the lines between the past and the present; between men and women; between tradition and envelope-pushing," sayeth Mr. Schuster (Matthew Morrison) before launching into a raucous and sonically quite respectful rendition of the international SMASH hit song of the summer by Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell, "Blurred Lines". Notably, Jake (Jacob Artist), Artie (Kevin McHale), Bree (Erinn Westbrook) and the New Directions infused it with some new verve while still maintaining the sinewy and sexily insinuating vibe of the instant-classic original - no easy feat. And, for those all-too-justified naysayers who dislike the provocative theme of the tune: the assumed date rape allusions implicit in the song were addressed, as well, comically as they were, despite claims to the contrary from the songwriters that it contains such a message.
On the more series side of the show, Unique (Alex Newell) further explored the journey of the anomalous character, undoubtedly eliciting tears around the country with an impassioned "If I Were A Boy", as originally and unforgettably introduced by Beyonce. Glee continues to defy expectations and present revolutionary depictions of people of all genders, shapes, sizes and talents week after week while still offering up the outrageous comedy, heartfelt drama and show-stopping musical numbers it built its iconography upon five seasons ago - for that alone it is to be continually lauded. While the bloom may evidently be off the rose at this point in the series, all in all, musical moments like this remind us that Glee can do certain things so unquestionably well that it makes one hope it will somehow last forever in one form or another. Poignant. Sensitive. Stirring. Stunning. Not "just" anything besides just plain perfect. Bravo and brava.
Prompted by bitchy Kitty (Becca Tobin)'s sexual revelations and a excellently played dramatic scene which may or may not have contained the phrase "Pull down your pants" played (and received) totally without irony, Marley (Melissa Benoist) also got a major diva supreme selection with which to strut her stuff, let off some serious steam (in more ways than one) and all-around wow us in a big way with her considerable performative wares, this one being a current chart-topper, no less, to boot - Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball". No... really?! Oh, yes! For those wondering if she actually took a ride ala the viral music video - yes, she did. And how! Smashing. Letting loose with her ample belt and investing the anthemic pop earworm with palpable sass, Benoist continued to show off her wild side and made a strong case for future covers of the assumedly firmly idiosyncratic track - and made a solid case for the producers to provide the capable performer with some big barn-burners in the future. As Unique might say: werk!
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice," Unique quoted to bigoted Sue byway of Martin Luther King Jr. as justification for a unisex bathroom, and, so, too, sometimes the same is representative of the road of Glee to connecting the dots between the musical numbers, plot and theme each episode - yet this week's show managed to juggle the three with relative ease and present an occasionally rousing, consistently pleasant and surprisingly poignant ep following last week's light-as-air "A Katy Or A Gaga" and the emotionally devastating "The Quarterback" tribute to fallen real-life Glee star Cory Monteith before it. Unique and Mr. Schue's scene alone was more touching and pertinent to the issues of today than many or any an issue on hand in most comedies and dramedies on TV - plus, who could ask for more fabulous musical numbers than the five on this week's remarkably tight and terrific ep? Not to forget, the episode was capped by a spirited and adorably staged "On Our Way" (The Royal Concept), as well. Indeed, it werked like a diva, twerked like a Miley and wrecked like the biggest of balls - and amply displayed some big ones, too.
So, here's to all of us gleeks and our God-given right to twerk, now and forever! Plus, next week? The piano man himself - Billy Joel!
Also, check out my InDepth InterView with Darren Criss from last week all about Glee Season Five and much more, available here.
Photo Credits: FOX