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GLEE-Cap: Funk


This week on GLEE, everyone at McKinley High is in a funk, from Mr. Schuester finalizing his divorce to Kurt feeling so depressed he wore the same outfit twice in a week. I can sympathize with the characters' feelings; after last week's Gaga disaster, the show had put me into a mood most foul that seemed as if it could not be rectified. While ‘Funk' had some redeeming, even charming, moments, it did nothing to make up for the perplexing episode that preceded it and ultimately left much to be desired.

New Directions is put into their collective bad mood by a surprise performance on their home turf (facilitated by Sue) from Vocal Adrenaline; Jesse St. James (at least, I think it's him - his character does a complete 180 this episode, becoming incredibly vicious towards Rachel in particular and breaking the hearts of Spring Awakening fans everywhere) leads the pack in performing ‘Another One Bites The Dust,' surely meant to be a menacing preview of what will happen at regionals (and surely misfiring on that front). The club voices its concerns and wishes for vengeance, and Mr. Schuester encourages them to retaliate in friendly competition - which in turn results in Finn and Puck slashing the tires of the fleet of Range Rovers gifted to Vocal Adrenaline by Shelby Corcoran and the club's active booster program.

Meanwhile, after a failed attempt to buy pot from Sandy Ryerson (a welcome return from Stephen Tobolowsky as the former faculty director of the glee club) and in need of a pick-me-up, Will decides on a new course of attack for dealing with adversary Sue Sylvester - seduction. Taking a cue from the mess that is Rachel Berry left in Jesse St. James' wake, Will decides to lead Sue on and then viciously hurt her. The premise leads to some of the funniest scenes in the series, one in which Will asks Sue to ‘Tell [Him] Something Good' via lap-dance and another where he sets up a date with Ms. Sylvester on a Wednesday night (his wistful observation of the fact their date is on "Hump Day," and Sue's consequent reaction, is comedic perfection). Sue shows up for their date, resplendent in her best tracksuit and a pearl necklace, but when Will does not, she is infuriated and hurt, retreating into her trophy-laden home in defeat. By the end of the episode, the power dynamic is reestablished by Sue, who puts Will in his place by using the glee club's practice room as a showcase for the comically large trophy won by the Cheerios at their own important tournament.

Finn and Puck are forced to do community service as penance for their questionable actions against Vocal Adrenaline at Sheets ‘n' Things. The entire scene in Sheets ‘n' Things is hilarious, from Sandy Ryerson demanding his muzak from Puck, to the entire staff breaking into their own pitiful rendition of Beck's ‘Loser' (in Puck's mind, at least). Teri, reeling from the divorce, decides to take Finn under her wing and help him with his assignment for the week because, since he's a sixteen-year-old male, he reminds her of Will. After googling the word "funk" (insert snarky comment about Ryan Murphy and the themed episodes here), this leads to Finn, Puck and Mercedes performing an energetic version of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch's ‘Good Vibrations.'

I honestly thought ‘It's a Man's Man's Man's World,' performed by Quinn and a number of fake pregnancy-belly-wearing teenaged girls was a great attempt at satire, at first. The choreography was so utterly laugh-worthy and the song so over-the-top that I was thoroughly convinced the writers had finally realized a consistent tone for the show. The group hug after the performance proved me wrong, though, and made me a little uncomfortable with what I had been chuckling at. Though initially annoyed by Quinn's complaints about being teased at school, her annoyance transforms into friendliness. After the performance, Mercedes asks Quinn to move in with her, because apparently they're friends now.

The episode ends with an entertaining performance of ‘Give Up The Funk' by New Directions that, in a nice comic turn, leaves Vocal Adrenaline in the same misery they inflicted upon the McKinley misfits at the start. The rivalry will be all the more interesting in the season finale next week as a result, and I honestly can't wait to see what numbers Vocal Adrenaline bring out against New Directions in competition.

The switch in episode order of ‘Funk' and ‘Theatricality' has led me to further dissect the plotlines of this episode and how each would fit in at a different point in the season; why, for instance, couldn't Rachel meet Shelby when Vocal Adrenaline came to psyche out New Directions? Or when meeting with Finn, Puck, and Mr. Schuester in Principal Figgins' office after the tire-slashing incident? Shouldn't the Schuester divorce have been taken care of sooner? Weren't Mercedes and Quinn fighting a few episodes ago? Why is Kurt still in the Cheerios? Why is Teri still relevant? And, for the last time, WHERE in the WORLD is Emma Pillsbury?

Whatever the case may be, I saw promising glimmers in this week's episode that hinted that Ryan Murphy and company actually know how to construct funny moments drawn from quirky individuals, namely in Sheets ‘n' Things and in Will Schuester's seduction tactics. Shows like GLEE, which focus on misfits and losers while satirizing American society (like the film Election, for instance), rely on the characters being so wrapped up in their fantasy worlds that they cannot see how comical their views on the world are. The first few episodes of the series accomplished this, but the writers lost sight of this along the way as they were forced to write contrived theme episodes. I hope the writers will start consistently creating said moments for all the characters, rather than for a select few in rare instances, because the show would be brilliant if they would. Regionals is fast approaching for New Directions, and being in a funk simply won't cut it - the same goes for GLEE's creative team.


GLEE follows an optimistic teacher who - against all odds and a malicious cheerleading coach - inspires McKinley High's Glee Club to conquer the world one singing competition at a time. GLEE stars Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Jessalyn Gilsig, Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Matthew Morrison, Amber Riley, Mark Salling and Jenna Ushkowitz.

GLEE is produced by Ryan Murphy Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan are co-creators of the series. Murphy, Falchuk and Dante di Loreto serve as executive producers, while Ian Brennan serves as co-executive producer.

GLEE airs Tuesday nights at 9:00-10:00PM ET/PT.


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From This Author Mary Hanrahan

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