‘Glee’ Recap (Season 2, Episode 18): Corny This Way (LISTEN)
Before I begin, a rant: I’ve been more or less crapping on “Born This Way” since the day it came out, although somehow I never got to write an article about it. My problem with the song isn’t that I find it terribly self-serving as far as Lady Gaga’s image goes (it is), or that it’s a blatant ripoff of a Madonna song (it is), but rather that the song is just so…cheesy.
The popular myth is that Gaga wrote the song in fifteen minutes, and I believe every word of that because, despite its message (which, don’t get me wrong, is wonderful), the lyrics are pretty, I don’t know, easy. I think I could have written these lyrics; she’s basically singing “Gay is great” over and over again in what is, let’s be honest, kind of an uncomplicated, unchallenging way (“Whether you’re gay, straight or bi/lesbian transgender life”? I think I saw that at the play they put on for us at freshman orientation). The exception is the hook, which I actually really like.
Again, not that I have a problem with the message of the song. Quite the opposite, really. But for someone who’s managed to avoid pop-novelty status despite hitting all the checkmarks for turning into one (crazy outfits are a big red flag), this song certainly felt like a throwaway for Gaga. And I get that someone who shows up in a meat dress isn’t really one for subtlety, but you’d think a songwriter as talented as she is (five bars of “Bad Romance” outclass Britney’s entire catalog, and if that’s an exaggeration it’s only a small one) could have come up with something better than this.
In any case, Ryan Murphy, being Ryan Murphy, clearly disagrees. And because Glee is rapidly devolving from a darkly funny musical into the 2011 version of an After-School Special, he’s decided to bow down to Queen Gaga with an episode that not only borrows the title from her tolerance-minded hit, but its baffling lack of finesse. So take a shot of tequila and suspend that disbelief like your finest rainbow flag waving out the window, because here we go.
SO: needless to say, our theme this week is accepting that which makes you an outcast, because it also makes you individual, and you should embrace the fact that you were born this way, baby. And we have four parallel stories emphasizing this point; there’s hardly any point designating A and B plots because, as a 90-minute episode, each storyline gets its due attention (side note: despite my Gaga-bashing, make no mistake, this was the best episode in months). So we’ll just begin in order from least emphasized/important to most emphasized/important.
Sadly for Emma, she’s low on the totem pole this week. I say sadly because Jayma Mays is quite fantastic in this episode. She’s in deep, deep denial about her OCD (she can’t even refer to it as “OCD”) so Schuester has taken it upon himself, in a rather horrible way, to browbeat her into seeking treatment. Despite much resistance and a really uncomfortable lunchroom scene where Schuester literally shoves a package of unscrubbed fruit (HORROR) under Emma’s nose, Emma finally gets the hint she needs help after she goes to her psychiatrist and spends 48 of their 50 minutes of therapy time scrubbing the couch. The shrink prescribes some meds, and Emma takes them. Hip hop hooray, baby she was born this way.
Next up on our list is Rachel, who gets cracked in the face by Finn during rehearsal for Nationals and ends up with a broken nose. Her skeevy doctor decides to take it upon HIMself to try and convince Rachel to get a nose job. This causes Rachel five kinds of existential crises in the span of a week, mainly because she’s worried that the rhinoplasty will screw up her voice. Ultimately, she decides to go through with the procedure; furthermore, she wants Quinn’s nose. Oy. In any case, the Gleeks almost unanimously tell Rachel not to go through with it, Finn because he thinks (yells out loud, really) that she’s beautiful, Tina because she just doesn’t approve, and Puck because changing her nose would be an affront to the Jewish people. Were you expecting something else?
It’s Kurt, of all people, who convinces her otherwise, with the simple argument that Barbara Streisand never would have changed her nose. And then Kurt leads a flash-mob dance in the mall to “Barbara Streisand” by Duck Sauce. Man, the people who run that mall must be pissed at this point, this is like the third time that’s happened. In any case, Rachel’s got a beak. But the hell what the haters say, ‘cause baby she was born this way.
The most poignant story comes from Quinn, who is hellbent on her pursuit of the prom queen title. She faces some unlikely competition from Lauren, who gains some steam in the polls thanks to the fact that she is, for lack of a better word, genuine, whereas prim and prissy Quinn is too perfect to be real. Which, evidently, is more true than we know: Lauren, having been educated by her dad’s college roomie G. Gordon Liddy, does some digging on Quinn and finds out that not only did she transfer to McKinley from the school she says she did, but that Quinn is really named Lucy, and is, more to the point, a former fatty nicknamed Lucy Caboosey who had to lose a shit-ton of weight, dye her hair blonde, and get a nose job to look the way she does now. Lauren seemingly Fatalities Quinn by putting up her middle school picture in the hallway, but suddenly Lauren’s supporters switch sides and buy into Quinn’s Cinderella story instead. Because she may not be that way today, but baby she was born that way.
Aaaand finally, we get to our big story, which is Kurt’s glorious return to the halls of McKinley High, as assisted by some behind-the-scenes skullduggery from Santana to help secure prom queen for herself.
Side note: if you’ve been following the gossip sites at all, you know that one of the Glee extras tweeted a spoiler as to who wins prom king and queen and the show’s co-creator Brad Fulchak responded by sending the extra the douchiest tweets of all time, including something like “who are you to spoil something talented people have worked to create?” To which I say: brotha, have you SEEN this season? It hasn’t been that good; prom king and queen should be the least of your worries, way behind writing some good goddamn material for Season 3.
PS: I haven’t seen the spoiler, but I doubt it takes much talent to come up with a plot point. A storyline, maybe, but a single plot point? Watch, I’ll guess right now: Lauren and Kurt. Wham. (Goes and reads spoiler) OK, I take it back. That is actually pretty good. Still, he’s an asshole. Maybe he was born that way, who knows?
In any case, Santana wants the crown, and for some reason Kurt needs to be at McKinley for this to happen. Santana, possessing awesome gaydar and a bitch gene beyond compare, basically tells Karofsky that She Knows, and if he doesn’t want to get outed he’ll make the situation right. So Karofsky and Santana start the Bully Whips, a hallway-monitor version of the Guardian Angels complete with red berets and jackets. Oh, and they’re gonna be each other’s beards so they can win prom king and queen. Kurt’s dad isn’t buying Karofsky’s reform, and neither is Finn. Still, an uneasy truce is struck, and Kurt’s dad instructs Finn to “keep an eye on your brother” (what a great line. How did that storyline go ENTIRELY unexplored this season?!?!).
Karofsky remains half in-the-closet, and as for Santana…well, the running gimmick of the show is that the Gleeks are supposed to make T-shirts emblazoned with their least favorite qualities about themselves, to show that they were born that way (ugh). So Brittany, in her minimal wisdom, makes Santana a shirt that reads “Lebanese.” Which, of course, is supposed to be “lesbian.” Santana rebuffs the shirt, Brittany is pissed, and the episode ends with all the Gleeks singing Gaga onstage with their shirts – Quinn’s reads “Lucy Caboosey”; Mike Chang’s says “Can’t Sing”; Kurt has “Likes Boys”, and Emma has “OCD”; etc. – while Karofsky and Santana – in her Lebanese shirt – sit all surly-like in the empty auditorium. They may not realize it today, but baby, they were born that way.
Told you I could do it.
TLC; “Unpretty”/West Side Story; “I Feel Pretty”: This is Rachel and Quinn’s, erm, Nose Job Anthem, let’s call it. And I gotta say, it is absolutely lovely. I don’t know what took the Glee people so long to get these two their own song, but wow. I’ll admit, the accompanying montages are kind of corny and a bit too music-videoish, but this long awaited combination of the show’s biggest star and secret weapon, packaged in a wonderfully subtle mash-up was entirely worth the wait. A
Sammy Davis Jr.; “I’ve Gotta Be Me”: Finn sings this one, accompanied by Mike Chang on a doo-wop dance routine. The point of this one is Finn letting his freak flag fly on the dance floor despite his horrendous moves. Frankenteen actually sings this one really well, despite the fact that his voice is one of the weaker ones on the show, and the dance routine is goofily charming. If we’re talking comparison here, it’s nowhere near Sammy, but then again, nobody really is. Except Frank. Still fun, though. B+
Keane; “Somewhere Only We Know”: This looks like the farewell Warblers number for Season 2. Ostensibly framed as their goodbye number for Kurt, it starts as the traditional barbershop shtick until the group suddenly gets help from a full goddamn band that just up and poof! appears in that prison-yard looking courtyard on the McKinley campus. Seriously, Kurt turns around and there’s a piano there all of a sudden. I call bullshit. Ahem. ANYWAY, Darren Criss’s voice is fantastic as always but that’s really the only thing to separate this one from the original. Very pretty, very loud, but not a lot of substance. Should have been a better sendoff. B-
Barbara Streisand; “As If We Never Said Goodbye”: Kurt sings this after his triumphant return to McKinley. I can’t say I’m particularly familiar with The Babs, but good God almighty, does Chris Colfer have an absolutely phenomenal voice. That’s about all there is to it. Nicely done. A
Lady Gaga; “Born This Way”: I’ve said all I have to say about this song. Suffice it to say this arrangement, with all the Gleeks bringing their specific strengths to the song, is pretty good. It’d be better if they didn’t all blatantly try to ape Gaga’s leery delivery, but then again this wouldn’t be Glee if they didn’t try to kiss Lady Gaga’s ass at every turn. Plus, it’s refreshing to hear the engineers put Mercedes and not Rachel (who sits this one out) at the forefront of a big number for once. Not bad. I was expecting worse. But if they do a Season 3 episode based on “Judas,” then I’m really gonna be pissed. B
READ: More Faster Glee recaps:
-2×17: “A Night of Neglect”: Nobody Likes You, Either.
-2×16: “Original Song”: Everyone Loses
-2×15: “Sexy”: Sexy Time, Very Nice
-2×14: “Blame It On the Alcohol”: They Be Actin’ Like They Drunk
-2×13: “Comeback”: Biebermania
-2×12: “Silly Love Songs”: A Friggin’ Ohio Lovefest
-2×11: “The Sue Syvester Shuffle”: The Championship Game
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 2 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 3 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 4 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 5 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Startup
- 6 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 7 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 8 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 9 Attorney Actually Starting to Believe Own Bullshit
- 10 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook