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Glee Review: Birthday Suit Day

Anyone else completely in love with this week’s episode of Glee? Seriously, I awwww-ed my way through most of. From Marley and Jake’s blooming love, to Quinn and Santana showing up for Rachel in a time of need, to the glee club really looking out for their own, I couldn’t help but feel the warmth the episode generated and oddly so since the episode was title “Naked.”

From Lima to NYC, folks were shedding the layers. I’ll get to our high schoolers in a bit, but let’s start with Rachel. She faced what any young, aspiring actress will face at some point from their late teens to their early twenties – to undress or not to undress. With a role in a NYADA student film, Rachel finally needed to give her answer. At first, though momentarily conflicted, she was completely up for it. New York had awakened something new and exciting in her, and she wasn’t ready to act like “former Rachel” would have. Even Brody stripped down in support at the breakfast table, and surprisingly, Kurt didn’t look too happy. (Did anyone else catch when Rachel reached across the table, while the camera stopped on naked Brody, and grabbed a banana? Dirty innuendos = amazing!) He gave a convincing argument when Kurt scoffed. Kate Winslet for The Reader, Charlize Theron for Monster, Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball. Hilary Swank for Boys Don’t Cry. Gwyneth Paltrow for Shakespeare in Love. And that’s only going back to 1998. Yet, those women were at very different points in their careers. Her roommate rushed Santana and Quinn in, for a reunion/intervention. Santana reminded her that her sex tape is still the top hit when you Google her name, a.k.a something that will follow her for the rest of her life. And they asked her to apply the 2x2x2 rule. Maybe you’ll be on a day two. Maaaybe you’ll be proud though a tad embarrassed by two months, but in two years, would that still be the legacy she wanted to look back on? She was pretty inflexible until her big moment came. Since her director/writer wouldn’t clear the room, she beckoned the crew to join her in nudity as a sign of creative solidarity and support. Those chubby camera men were more than eager to disrobe if it meant Rachel would take off her own. The sign of flesh, however, only made it more apparent that Rachel wasn’t ready for this big moment in her life. Maybe it will come one day, but hopefully she’ll be lucky like some of those previously mentioned and earn an Oscar while doing it. So we closed this week’s Lima chapter with Rachel realizing that not everything needs to change or come at super speed, and sharing a song with Quinn and Santana, who even hinted that she may return to Manhattan fairly soon.

In Ohio, Sam had been right, and the Warblers were disqualified for their steroid use, so Finn needed a plan to raise money for transportation to Regionals. Tina, still lusting over Blaine, nominated a “Men of McKinley” calendar where the guys could show off their hot bods. This was great for us ladies watching, but not so great for two of our glee guys. Artie felt completely uncomfortable with the idea of posing for the calendar, especially when the focus was shirtless guys. He believed he didn’t measure up and all the camera would focus on was his wheelchair. Sam was the complete opposite. He became consumed with being in tip-top shape. After Brittany, somehow, aced her SATs and Sam flunked, he realized his last opportunity to prove himself outside of his looks was now past him. Sweetly, Finn and Blaine really stepped up for their friends. Finn let Artie off the hook while commending him for being honest about his fears and understands that some people want to keep some things (and some parts of their bodies) private. Blaine pushed Sam to seek out Emma’s help, and she confirmed that there are schools that don’t even care about standardized test scores, and that he could still find something that he’s good at to work towards. Still not convinced, Sam couldn’t sit down and write an essay about his accomplishments because he didn’t believe he had any, yet Blaine was still right there behind him. By some means, he also managed to tape a video of the glee club members listing all the things Sam had accomplished like supporting his family when his dad lost his job and saving the glee club this year by exposing the Warblers. Even I had to tear up at the moment. There was his essay. And because he’s awesome, Sam also chose not to take off his clothes for the calendar, making Artie feel okay to join in the fun too and not feel out of place with his clothes on as well. Just proof that he is the guy that the glee kids know him to be.

So we’ve had some moments of finding love for oneself and showing love by helping others and then there was the straight romance between Marley and Jake. These two have gone from “will they, won’t they” to full on couple, and I like it. I’ve been missing all of our graduates and their first loves – especially Finchel and Klaine – but it’s nice to get to experience that feeling again with new characters. Part of why we’re so attached to those previously mentioned couples are because we experience their love stories with them. The road ahead for this couple is completely unmapped and that’s exciting. (I still feel bad for Ryder!) Yet, Marley has struggled with her self-image all season and Jake really reinforces how special she is. Similarly, Jake was a total clone of his brother when we first met him. All about the ladies and being a pimp, but Marley has brought out the best in him. It was all kinds of adorable to watch the two sing like they were in love but not be able to say it to each other, but Ryder (still sacrificing his heart for his bromance – encouraged Jake to be honest about his feelings. Yes, he couldn’t say it at first, but he could write, “I love you,” and that’s just how he signed his photo in the calendar he bought for her.

By the end of the episode, I had a mini revelation, and it’s one that I believe has slowly been occurring to me all season, but just hit me like a ton of bricks this week. Glee may not be long for this world. It’s not doing horribly in the ratings, but it’s certainly not as strong and consistent as it was that first year. Creatively, however, they are really stretching themselves, and it’s not really about grabbing eyes so much as poking a little fun at the audience and itself. It’s that slight shift that has thrown me off as I start to watch each episode, but somehow completely entertains me by the end. At that moment, I embraced Glee‘s lean into the absurd. Our McKinley graduates aren’t little kids anymore so it’s natural that the show embraces a more grown up yet still ridiculous tone. Rachel’s duet with her old self. The McKinley men’s calendar outfits. It’s totally over-the-top, but all in good fun. But it still does the sweet parts equally well. I was teetering on the fence last season, but this year I’m all in again. But what do you think? Sound off below.

THE SONGS
“Torn,” by Natalie Imbruglia. Sung by Rachel. B+
“Centerfold” / “Hot in Herre,” by The J. Geils Band / Nelly. Sung by Sam, Jake, Ryder and Kitty with Blaine, Joe and the Cheerios. B+
“A Thousand Years, Pt. 2,” by Christina Perri feat. Steve Kazee. Sung by Marley and Jake. A
“Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself),” by Ne-Yo. Sung by Jake. A-
“Love Song,” by Sara Bareilles. Sung by Rachel, Quinn and Santana. A-
“This Is the New Year,” by A Great Big World. Sung by New Directions. A+

MEMORABLE MOMENTS

  • Joe: I’d be willing to cut off my hair to sell it for extra cash.
    Kitty: To who, Jamaican kids with Rastafarian cancer or as riggin’ on a haunted pirate ship?
  • “Girls are the ones who buy stuff. We’re responsible for the consumer-driven economy. Those Twilight books are poop on paper and we’ve turned them into a billion-dollar industry.” – Kitty
  • “You may know tonight’s guest only as the girl with the fat mom who ruined Sectionals for everybody.” – Brittany introducing Marley on Fondue for Two
  • “I filled in A for a while. And then C for a little bit. And then D and then I did A again. And then I used the dots to draw a clown and then a penis.” – Brittany’s SAT tactic
  • “Blaine has an awesome body and a perky and delicious behind that looks like it got baked to perfection by some sort of master chef.” – Tina
  • “My Penthouse centerfold, so groundbreaking that it completely redefined the term ‘hirsute’ and gave birth unto these United States a pose so limber they named it the Regal American Not-So-Bald Spread Eagle.” – Sue to Finn
  • “Topless is as nude as anyone is ever gonna want to see you.” – Santana to Rachel
  • “You’re a worthy adversary, Finn Hudson, and that’ll make you all the more delicious when I’ve got you slowly roasting on a spit. But, like, literally delicious.” – Sue to Finn

Season 4, Episode 12: “Naked” (originally aired Jan. 31, 2013)

Images courtesy of Eddy Chen/FOX.

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