As I watched the “Previously on Glee” recap at the beginning of “Blame It On the Alcohol,” I was scared. All we got were updates on the various relationships, including Will and Emma’s, and any episode that focuses solely on the myriad love triangles tends to get mired down in eye roll-worthy melodrama. Instead, we got a Glee-style After School Special about teen drinking that rolled a lot of the relationship stuff into it, and most of it actually worked quite nicely.
Now, of course the episode was less a PSA about the dangers of underage drinking than a chance for the glee kids to party and devolve into drunken archetypes — exactly the opposite of the stated purpose of McKinley’s Alcohol Awareness Week. But as much as the Parents Television Council may object, I thought Glee painted a fairly accurate picture of high school drinking culture. The number of kids getting suspended for coming to school drunk was a little absurd (at least based on my experience), but it was much more realistic to have the kids realize that, however illegal it is, they could still drink responsibly, rather than have them all swear off drinking forever. It’s kind of strange that it took until the middle of the second season to really approach the issue of teen drinking, and that it got wrapped up in the span of a single episode, but that’s how Glee operates. Now we’ll just have to see if they ever follow up on the Dry Until Regionals pledges, or if those will just be forgotten like Mercedes as a character has been.
(Oh, and it made no sense that the glee club ended up performing “Tik Tok” at the assembly. They had to practice with “Blame It On the Alcohol” since that was the episode title, but after Will rightfully pointed out that it glamorized drinking, there’s no way he would have allowed “Tik Tok.” At least they kind of made up for that with Figgins believing they were just acting drunk to portray the dangers. Plus, we got Brittany dancing, so there’s that.)
Because there had to be some thematic crossover, Will also dealt with binge drinking last night. After being absent for a few weeks, his post-divorce melancholy took back over, and drove him to have a few too many at the rodeo bar with Coach Bieste. Their friendship has actually been pretty nicely developed, so their night out worked on a story-level, and it gave Matthew Morrison some good notes to play other than smiling + enthusiastic (his scene grading papers was especially funny). It didn’t really work for the kids to claim so much moral even-footing with him, since his behavior was totally legal, just a bit irresponsible, but I believe Will would take his role model position seriously enough to go along with it. Really, my biggest surprise with this storyline is that Will and Bieste didn’t go to a hip-hop club — Mr. Schuester hasn’t rapped in a while.
A teen drinking cautionary tale and a parallel teacher plot would have been enough for most shows, but not Glee! We also got Blaine questioning his sexuality thanks to a kiss from Rachel, Kurt and his dad working out more homophobia issues, and Sue continuing on her path to take down Will and the glee club. The first two led to some good scenes for Chris Colfer, who has been sidelined since he moved to Dalton Academy. Blaine being straight or bi didn’t seem like a real possibility, but his confrontation with Kurt at the coffee shop was nicely played, even if I didn’t quite buy the parallel Blaine drew between Kurt’s behavior and Karofsky’s. Kurt’s talk with his dad also gave us another nice scene between Colfer and Mike O’Malley (the least-seen series regular besides Jessalyn Gilsig), but at some point I’d like to see a scene between them that wasn’t “Burt isn’t homophobic, he’s just not used to Kurt being gay yet!”
Finally, the Sue story was really just there to keep up her crusade to take down the glee club at all costs. Her calling Will a future alcoholic and trying to get him into AA came out of nowhere and didn’t make any sense until the end when Will actually did show up to school hungover. And even by Sue’s standards, playing that voicemail over the PA was horrible. For once, though, I’m actually interested to see Will and Emma interact next week, just to see how he handles that one.
“Blame It On the Alcohol” didn’t completely work, but as I wrote up this review, I realized I liked it more than I thought. A lot of the plot devices didn’t make much sense, and once again several characters got left on the fringes. But maybe it was the relative lack of musical numbers or maybe just the fact that all the kids got to hang out together outside of school, but it was a fun episode that didn’t have me rolling my eyes at every new development. As an episode in an ongoing plot arc, not so great. As a character piece, though? Pretty solid.
Bits & Pieces
- Iqbal Theba killed it last night as Principal Figgins: “Ke-dollar sign-ha,” “I know we’ve had problems with your group before, but I have a good feeling about this time,” “Congratulations! Coupons for 1/2 off frozen yogurt!”
- Well, the idea behind “My Headband” was for it to be horrible, so… nailed it!
- Blaine was just a friend, not a Warbler, at the party — he wasn’t even in his uniform!
- Of course Rachel had a stage in her basement — where else would they have sung duets during the party?
- Coach Bieste ate a whole roasted chicken for lunch.
- “First of all, that vest is very cute.”
- “Ke$ha’s been a cultural icon for weeks.”
- “But if you don’t drink, what will you have to live for?”
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