What this week’s episode of The Glee Project lacked in suspense, it made up for in peculiar delights. We got the Color Me Badd flashback we didn’t even know we wanted. We received a translation of Kelis’ “Milkshake” lyrics rooted entirely in economic theory. And we even got video director Erik White sending an unruly contestant to the naughty corner.
Things kicked off with our contenders squealing with delight after finding out the week’s theme would be sexuality. Then again, the contestants would probably squeal with delight if casting director Robert Ulrich was replaced by Jigsaw and he declared the week’s theme was “bludgeoning” or “lit matches under your fingernails during kerosene snorkeling.” Kids these days, they’re just a little too enthusiastic, you know? Michael, being an 18-year-old boy, declared himself “fairly experienced” on the subject matter, a remark that required Oxygen to label the episode Rated CP…for Child, Please.
Guest mentor Naya Rivera judged the homework assignment — a cover of “I Wanna Sex You Up” — that was remarkable for showing off Nellie’s amazing tone and the awkwardness that ensues from a large group of kids simultaneously trying to achieve sexyface. Mario, trying on a new humble attitude, decided the time had come to let his “talent speak for itself.” (Ugh.) Thankfully, Naya didn’t single him out for feedback, instead giving the win to Charlie on the basis of his sexy beatboxing.
Then it was time to prepare for the video shoot — a mashup of “Moves Like Jagger” and “Milkshake” set in a high-school sex-ed class. I was a little irked that choreographer Zach Woodlee perpetuated the myth that smiling isn’t sexy, but Shanna’s response — that she would try to make “positive changes” while remaining true to herself pretty much missed the point of the exercise: Drop it like it’s hot, sister! Nellie, meanwhile, fretting about a “stop, drop, and thrust” dance move she’d been assigned, gave a hilarious explanation of why Kelis’ raunchy hit might literally be about ice-cream-based beverages: Our narrator has to charge for teaching her milkshake technique because the subsequent DIY shenanigans would cut into her future profits! Fair enough.
In the recording booth, Michael lost his lyrics, Charlie openly tried to flirt with Aylin, and Aylin was all “that’s flattering, but I’m trying to stay focused on winning.” (Smart girl.) The actual video shoot went even worse for Charlie, as he started directing the director and dropping ridiculous comments like “the way Zach and I choreographed it” — as if any of the pros on set would be interested in taking orders from a Glee Project contestant only four weeks into the competition. Erik White was having none of it. Speaking of ridiculous comments, Mr. Ulrich may have placed a little too much importance on the relationship between a dye job and emotional fulfillment. “Taking the red out of his hair opened him up as a person,” he declared about Abraham’s suddenly jet-black hair. Well, he did look better.
I agreed with the judges that Nellie stood out in the finished video shoot — and not just because she’d overcome her nervousness about getting in touch with her inner vixen — but I also thought Aylin and Blake were pretty compelling, too. Shanna, meanwhile, narrowly escaped the Bottom 3, and the way she sobbed at just the idea of possible elimination probably guarantees she’ll have to sing for her life in the next week or two. (Let’s be honest: The producers aren’t going to miss a chance at serving serious waterworks to the audience.)
With Charlie, Michael, and Tyler in the Bottom 3, it seemed like Tyler would be the obvious pick for elimination, but thankfully we got enough last-minute twists to cast just a little doubt over the proceedings. Charlie’s explanation for his behavior — “I tried to own roles that weren’t mine” and “I’m trying to learn where the boundaries are” — made me wonder if he’s capable of following orders and doing his job. I mean, let’s be honest: The boundaries are pretty clear. Learn your lines, pay attention on set, and don’t contradict the director. That said, his last-chance cover of “I Get a Kick Out of You” — a song he’d never heard! — was strongly sung and infused with cheeky wit. I loved how he emphasized the line “obviously don’t adore me,” and the way he worked the stage as though he was aware that, yes, ultimately this is an extended audition for Glee.
Tyler’s “Smile” — again, a song he’d never heard before! — was serviceable, albeit a little reminiscent of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore.
And finally, there was Michael, who missed about half the words to Jason Mraz’s “Lucky,” and despite a jauntily improvised “lucky my nerves didn’t kick in at all,” didn’t seem very engaging in his post-performance explanation to the judges. I mean, dude, you’re fighting for your very existence in the competition. Make ’em laugh, or burst into tears, or get flirtatious. Don’t just stand there all mealy-mouthed!
In the end, as Nikki offered, it came down to a “not-ready-yet problem” — or was it a “Michael would be a big draw for teenage female audiences” problem — and Tyler was cut from the competition. Yeah, he remembered all his words, but as Ryan Murphy noted, the kid’s biggest problem is that he was up against contestants who are ultimately more exuberant and comfortable at this point in their journeys. In other words, while it may take courage to expose yourself to the perils of reality TV only seven months in to one’s transition from female to male, it doesn’t mean you’re ready for a role on Glee.
What did you think of this week’s Glee Project? Did the right contestant go home? Or should Michael have paid the price for his flub? Sound off in the comments!