Glee Recap: Sex and Some Ditties

This week’s Glee used the theme of high-school sex-ed to explore…Will Schuester’s latest love triangle? Don’t worry: It’s not quite as creepy as it sounds. You see, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Holly Holliday was back in the halls of McKinley High School, subbing for the health and wellness teacher, who’d come down with “a mad case of the herp.” As Holly realized that her students, and in particular the members of New Directions, were woefully under-informed about the birds and the bees, we saw Will’s other ladycrush, Emma Pillsbury, struggling in her role as adviser to the school’s Celibacy Club, for teenagers and “those who are older and terrified of the hose-monster.”

I’m going to admit right up front that I was a little dismayed to see Ryan Murphy & Co. stage a retreat with regard to Emma’s character development. Since her relationship with/marriage to Carl (John Stamos), we’ve seen the emergence of a stronger, less neurotic, and altogether more appealing Emma — one who’s not just defined by her OCD and her schoolgirl obsession with Will. I had no issues with the sexually conservative Emma spouting the advantages of teen abstinence, but the news that she hadn’t consummated her marriage after four months seemed out of character and a little bit absurd.

As Emma pushed the celibacy agenda through the distribution of “chastity charms” (which were being used by students as “clip-on nipple rings”), Holly decided it was time to do something about kids like Finn, who wondered aloud after a demonstration on condom technique, “Cucumbers can give you AIDS?” (Was it just me, or did both of these punch lines strain too hard to achieve Glee‘s typical aura of breezy outrageousness?) Holly’s approach to teen sexuality was quite the opposite of Emma’s. “Are you, like, some kind of crazy pope lady?” she asked her rival, before drawing parallels between teaching sex-ed and sneaking vegetables into kids’ recipes a la Jessica Seinfeld.

Naturally, both women took their causes to glee club because, well, why not? I’m not sure what exactly Holly was trying to teach with her raucous rendition of Gary Glitter’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me,” but it was a hoot to watch Will hold up a hastily scribbled note: “Too much?” Emma’s sexual frustration, meanwhile, percolated through her efforts to one-up Holly’s performance. “I look forward to the opportunity to nail her to the wall,” she growled while planning her number. Alas, our fashionista guidance counselor chose Starland Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight” for herself, her hubby, and the McKinley celibacy club, thinking it was about a coconut, pineapple and marshmallow fluff dessert, not “sneakin’ a nooner,” as Holly informed her.

Somehow this led to one of those “this is Glee, so just go with the ridiculousness” plot developments: Emma and Carl sitting down for a therapy session with Holly. “We still haven’t done the deed,” complained the good dentist. To which Emma parried, “We watch the Housewives shows, which are so, so racy.” But it was Holly who cut to the heart of the problem: “Are you still in love with Will Schuester?” I’m not exactly sure why Emma hesitated with her answer — dude forgot her name while introducing her to Holly in the teacher’s lounge! — but hesitate she did, and now Carl’s staying in a hotel. Holly fled the scene, too, heading to another school after parents at McKinley decided she’d ruined the Veggie Tales series for good. “I’m damaged goods. That makes me terrific in bed, but it also means I tend to break nice guys like you into wasa crackers,” she told Will midway through the episode. But by the end of the hour, the sexy substitute had decided that maybe — mayyyybeeee — it was time to try a relationship for a change, and not just one that lasted 36 hours. That was enough to score her a dip and kiss from the self-described “excellent educator.”

In other plot-development news:

* Brittany survived a pregnancy scare of having a stork build a nest on top of her garage, only to find that perhaps her makeout sessions with BFF Santana were more than a physical thing. “I’m not interested in any labels — unless it’s on something I shoplift,” Santana huffed, but a sacred sexy sharing circle with Ms. Holliday changed all that. “I went to an all-girls college where the only industry in town was the manufacturing of softball equipment. I still feel a little tingle when I hear Ani DiFranco,” recounted Ms. Holliday, as Santana got the notion of singing Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” to explore her feelings.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about a sudden and rather serious story arc for Santana and Brittany, a pair of lightly sketched characters who’ve almost always provided little more than comic relief/awesome dance moves, but Naya Rivera packed so much pain and longing into Santana’s eyes this week, that I didn’t dismiss her heartbreak when Brittany chose to stay with Artie rather than break his heart and “go to an Indigo Girls concert.” (Now, we’ll have to see what becomes of the men in their lives, considering how Sam accidentally propositioned his fellow football player following the “Landslide” performance: “It’s pretty cool that our girlfriends are such good friends, right? I wish you and I were that close.” Alrighty, then!)

* Puck and Lauren contemplated making a sex tape — “If I wanna see Kim Kardashian being classy, I’ll watch E!” said Puck, while doing research — until Ms. Holliday warned them it might lead to a child pornography charge. And just like that, our unlikely couple is playing footsie in celibacy club!

* And finally, we had Kurt lamenting that he had all the sex appeal and knowledge of a baby penguin after the Warblers tried/failed to unleash their inner heartthrobs in time for regionals. I’m sorry, but I wasn’t buying Blaine’s PSA/trip to visit Burt at the garage to convince the best parent in the Glee universe that his son was “not gonna know about protection or STDs.” Seriously? We’re supposed to believe that after Kurt had specifically asked Burt for a sex-ed lesson in “Blame It on the Alcohol” that it took a visit from Blaine — a kid Burt barely knows — to get him to do the right thing? Nonsense!

Still, Burt’s chat with his son was not only emotionally effective, but a pretty good outline for parents struggling to have  “the talk” with their kids. “This is gonna suck for both of us,” Burt explained, while imploring his son not to throw himself around “like it doesn’t matter.” I’ve got to hand it to Mike O’Malley: No matter how loopy Glee gets, his completely grounded performance helps anchor the show in reality.

And now, without further do, let’s grade this week’s musical numbers:

“Do You Wanna Touch Me There,” Holly and New Directions | I can’t think of many songs a parent would rather less hear their kids’ teachers sing to ‘em, but no matter. Gwyneth completely captured the track’s naughty spirit, and Brittany took it over the top with her bump and grind atop the music-room piano. Musical grade: A Relevance to the plot: B+

“Animal,” Blaine, Kurt, and the Warblers | Didn’t we already see the Warblers cover this territory with more panache and style when they did “Teenage Dream”? The warehouse rave setting — complete with bubble machine and beach balls — felt contrived as heck, as did the swooning response of those chicks from Crawford County Day School. No me gusta. Musical grade: D Relevance to the plot: C-

“Kiss,” Will and Holly | Matthew Morrison’s Auto-Tuned vocal on this track kind of felt like Prince’s might’ve — if it had been taken to the veterinary clinic for a quick neutering session, and the anesthesia hadn’t worn off. Gwyneth, surprisingly, maintained some of the sexual edge of the original. But if this was going to be all candelabras and velvet curtains and tango, why not slow the track down and put a fresh Glee twist on it? Musical grade: C Relevance to the plot: B

“Landslide,” Holly, Santana, and Brittany | The sapphic trio put a little Dixie Chicks slant on it, and I’m not mad at that. Can we please get a full-on Fleetwood Mac episode next season? Musical grade: B+ Relevance to the plot: B+

“Afternoon Delight,” Emma and the McKinley High Celibacy Club | Arrested Development did it better. That is all. Musical grade: B- Relevance to the plot: C+

What did you think of this week’s Glee? How would you rate the musical performances? Were you bothered that Sue was reduced to a single scene warning “Porcelain” that he’d made a powerful new enemy? Sound off below, and for all the Glee news you can use, follow TVLine.com on Twitter @TVLineNews.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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100 Comments
  1. JayK says:

    Wow, everyone hates Glee so much!
    While I agree with some of Slezak’s thoughts (as if Burt needed a talking-to from Blaine, instant swooning and suds in a warehouse?) I really enjoyed the show overall. I thought Santana’s revelation (“That’s why I’m such a bitch all the time”) was really interesting, and that was some really solid acting from a supporting comic-relief character. Burt telling Kurt (whoa, Kurt and Burt! Just noticed the rhyming, although after Quinn and Finn I should not be surprised) that he matters brought tears to my eyes. Didn’t LOVE the musical numbers overall, but still fun! Glee’s not perfect, but I’m a fan.

    • RG says:

      Honestly, it’s astounding to see how many ignoramuses there are on this site — HELLO!!!! THERE IS A REASON WHY THE MAJORITY OF THE PARTICIPANTS ON THIS BOARD ARE HATING ON GLEE — because GUESS WHAT!??!!! GLEE HAS BEEN SUCKING ***BIG TIME*** lately. I hate when people simply say “what else do you expect – it’s Glee!” …umm…..have you flippin’ heard of something called SEASON 1 (!?) (first 13 episodes), where Glee used to be an AMAZING, HEARTWARMING, BEAUTIFULLY-WRITTEN, and ASTONISHINGLY-FUNNY show……there’s obviously a reason why a lot of us hold this show to *SUCH* a HIGH STANDARD — because we KNOW how much it is truly capable of — and because it really CAN be something really SPECIAL!! (As you can tell, I *used* to be a huge FAN). The rest of you – honestly, I don’t know what to say….Not only do you have ZERO taste in good television, but it’s because of people like you that the show continues to get stupider and stupider due to your INANE encouragement of the haphazard stories the producers continue to dish out on a weekly basis! I, ON THE OTHER HAND, will be quitting this show if it keeps on producing trashy episodes like THIS ONE. There are so many better shows out there (Fringe, The Good Wife, The Walking Dead, etc.) that are more deserving of my time.

      • Suz says:

        Woah, that’s a really intense overreaction to JayK’s post. We’re all entitled to our opinion, and as far as I can tell, JayK only talked about the good points of the episode. Didn’t trash you or your opinions. It was just a comment like any other comment. You don’t need to go capslock happy and start the name calling. That’s just rude.

        • JayK says:

          Thanks, Suz. Some people are just really rude online. Some people also get way too worked up about scripted television shows. What are you gonna do?

      • alex levine says:

        I think what RG is trying to say is as follows: As a fan, you get very invested in a show. And it hurts when they squander the talent and potential they have. This episode had it’s share of heartwarming moments and stellar acting by O’Malley, Colfer and Rivera. But overall quallity of the show and it’s contents is going downhill. And it hurts for fans.
        Also as beautifuly and touching the whole Kurt storyline is, Santana’s outburst (no matter how brilliantly executed by Naya) did come out of left field.

  2. Too-Old-For-This says:

    Say what you want about Glee, but that hour was a gift to gay teens [...]
    Comment by Ciara

    * Too bad it sucked for the rest of us.
    Comment by Lettcie

    Lettcie, you don’t speak for all straights. I’m straight and I find the gay romance story lines very touching. And yes I’m sure I’m straight! ;)

    Naya Rivera/Santana’s acting blew me away, loved Gwyneth, great ep!

  3. msw says:

    Terrific review of this episode. Insightful and on target. And critical in just the right places.

  4. Alberto says:

    This episode was very beautiful… I LOVED IT…

  5. Maigen says:

    hey i dont know what this is for so bye

  6. sandra says:

    omg!! Ok I like Rachel but can we see more of Mercedes she has a great voice but everytime I turn on glee has Rachel singing all the solos and even in performance all they show is her face then when the shown the group the do a wide shot.ok Glee enough give others some close up!!

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