Thursday, 28 April 2011

Glee - S2 E18 - Born This Way

Rachel considers rhinoplasty after an accident leaves her with a broken nose. The race for Prom Queen heats up. Kurt returns to McKinley High.

Spoilers after the jump.

I wonder if they would ever consider developing individual storylines on this show rather than forcing everyone into a theme every week so they can make some PSA about how flaming they are. This week it was about accepting who you are and in a lot of cases it helps a lot to understand your limitations, accept them and make the best of what you have, but what developed here overtaking the Rachel's nose storyline was ridiculous.

From the moment Quinn started fantasizing about being prom queen a few episodes back, I had a horrible feeling that it would all go terribly wrong for her, somehow fat Lauren would end up being crowned, either by popular vote or by Quinn handing her the title in some "inner growth" development moment. Thankfully, that idea seems to have been nixed by the end of this episode, but the way they got there sure was painful to watch. I don't really follow the Glee fanverse but I have to bet Lauren is popular because a) she gets lots of "snappy" (read: suffocatingly annoying) one-liners and b) she physically resembles a lot of the people who get obsessed with this show. The point she makes to Quinn is salient with regards to the average scrub high-schooler being unable to relate to her veneer of perfection but I don't see why they would relate to Lauren any more.

Lauren calls Quinn a "fraud", but she herself has given up. Rather than make an effort to improve her health, social standing or future prospects, she appears content to remain grossly obese and mean-spirited. If that's her idea of keeping it real, I'll take the fraud. The writers have made it pretty clear in the portrayal of her, that Lauren was not "born this way", rather she can't stop stuffing her face. Her problem is more similar to Emma's OCD. While everyone is desperately trying to force Emma to face that, no one seems willing to tell Lauren what she needs to hear (probably because she'd shove their head down the toilet)

What's in store for Lauren in the future? Probably nothing good, at the rate she is headed, living in a trailer park with five kids drinking beer all day? There's nothing especially wrong with having low goals in life, but if you are aiming for success, and it appears she had the same dream as Quinn about becoming Prom Queen, then you actually need to work toward it rather than relying on cheap underhanded tactics. I'm sure there are people who will cry and whine about standardized portrayals of beauty, but this is not the same as having bad teeth, or having a unibrow or being Asian, it's a medical condition. While Quinn put in the effort to better her life and beat her own weight problems, Lauren wants to tear her down because she has been unable/unwilling to do so for herself. Thankfully, people end up understanding Quinn's perspective and Lauren ends up eliminated from the running.

In case you were wondering, much like Courtney Cox, Dianna Agron has never actually looked like "Lucy Caboosie" did in her life. Writers almost always draw from their own experience to enrich their characters, either as a way of justifying their own life choices or as a form of wish fulfillment; I wonder what was at work behind the scenes there. As Puck notes, nose jobs and Jewish women are often interconnected in popular culture. The most starkly obvious example is Lisa Edelstein, who seemed to have had her nose changed mid career rather than before/at the beginning of as suggested for Rachel. The new nose she picked for herself was Quinn's which I found funny because I had just been talking with someone the other day about how gorgeous Agron was.

I loved the way in which Tina embraced herself and the goal she set for herself of becoming an Asian role model in the absence of any existing ones. It's something that's been so obvious but has never been heeded. While the vast majority of Asian American girls go with the white man flow and use various excuses similar to those Tina started to at the beginning of the episode, while many of them speak of trying to gain "independence" from the rest of their Asian family (and the evil, chauvinistic Asian man of course) few actually try to claim individuality. I hope some people will heed her example.

Tina's ditching of her blue contacts doesn't faze Rachel, as she thinks of her own impending surgery as a personal choice. But really, she was coerced by the doctor in a particularly creepy scene. It seemed fairly obvious to me, he was trying to make a few bucks or add to his portfolio one way or another. Rather than consult Rachel with her father(s) present, he implants the idea while she is alone and vulnerable which seems especially predatory. We recall the Western standardized beauty idea from earlier, only it actually applies here in an unsavory pseudo-sexual context which is where the real dangers of that phenomenon lie.The way she is convinced to abandon the idea was mind-bogglingly stupid and obtuse. With an additional half hour run-time this week (for no apparent reason) they had to fill the time with extra musical numbers. The sound of music can heal souls, but sometimes you need actual talking too.

There was a whole bunch of time spent this week focused on the gay characters, and let's be clear about this once again: In the world of Glee, there is no such thing as bi-sexual, there is only gay and not gay. A character like Karofsky who claims he is "unsure" is cast as being in denial while Brittany is, well, Brittany. Santana's plot to become prom queen to win back her lover is particularly hare-brained and doomed to failure. There are too many secrets involved and eventually it will all come crashing down and spill everywhere. In the light of the charges leveled against Ohio State and Jim Tressel this week, I heard a lot of Watergate references, and it's true; the cover-up is always treated as worse than the crime. The crime being a poorly drawn infatuation that ascended from a throwaway joke, the cover-up being an astonishingly fake relationship with Karofsky.

The big man got up there and laid his soul bare this week. I guess he sounded sincere, so while Santana might take credit for blackmailing him into his transformation, it's probably he's spent many a lonely hour alone in his room thinking about what he's done wrong already. His contrition allows Kurt an opportunity to return and rejoin the school and the glee club. It's not a difficult transition; although all the Dalton Academy kids come and serenade him farewell, I got the feeling he never really fit in over there, as stiff and uniform as it was. That said, his flaming was turned up to 11 this week and I don't care what kind of bigot people think I am, I absolutely can't stand people who act the way he does. It's no wonder he would get shunned and bullied the way he did before. I'm not saying hide it, I'm saying act with some class and decency. It's something the character refuses to learn and something the writers absolutely fail to understand.

As usual, everything ground to a terrible halt whenever Will and Emma tried to bond. Let's not dwell on it. Matthew Morrison came out the other day and "revealed" that a character was about to die but considering they released the episode titles a few weeks back and one upcoming is "Funeral" I kinda figured that already. My money would be on either Mike, Artie or Sam at this point. The more obvious choices would be Kurt's father or the football coach. but supposedly it's "someone no one would expect", which probably means it's someone everyone would expect. This episode was OK, if heavy-handed and way too long. It get's a bonus point for Tina's awesome empowerment speech which hopefully doesn't get subverted by her breaking up with Mike to jump into something with Artie.

"Glee" airs Tuesdays on FOX at 8:00 pm EST.

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