'Glee' recap: Brittany finds her inner Britney Spears
I usually dread the musician-themed episodes of “Glee” -- the music often feels forced and can derail the plot and compromise character integrity -- and to be honest, I was particularly dreading this one, if only because it was so hyped, but maybe also because I, like Mr. Schue, was a little uptight about the musician who inspired it. (He called the belly-baring pop star a bad influence. I’ve just always found her a bit distasteful -- and, what with the bad marriages, questionable parenting moves and off-the-wall head-shaving episode, increasingly sad.)
Oh, how wrong Mr. Schue and I were. Britney Spears, bless her ranch-dressing-on-pizza-loving heart, delivered in a way that musical icons featured before her -- Madonna, Lady Gaga -- have not; her music and persona helped to advance the characters (maybe less so the plot, but to complain about that seems churlish) and to reveal their inner lives and outward talent in ways we haven’t seen before. To paraphrase Kurt, it seems like Britney Spears really helped the characters blossom.
Unlike other themes, this one was far from toxic. Oops, they didn’t do it again. And they can hit us with these sorts of heart-palpitating song selections one more time whenever they want.
Phew, now that’s out of the way, here are a few things we have the Britney episode to thank for:
1) Brittany S. Pierce, where have you been all “Glee’s” life? Who knew that Santana’s blonder half, that ponytailed cipher in a cheerleading uniform, long relegated to the background in glee-club ensemble numbers, could dance like that? How great was it to hear her mutter -- in her perpetually amusing teen monotone -- about her internal troubles? And who would have guessed that Brittany Susan Pierce has been long been tormented by the idea that her namesake was more talented and more famous than she?
But all it took was a little laughing gas from Emma’s gorgeous, charming dentist boyfriend (more on him in a minute) for Brittany to unlock her inner Britney and discover that she may not only be able to sing and dance and play with a snake and wear dramatic eye makeup and scanty costumes as well as a certain Mouseketeer-turned-Lolita-sex-symbol, but may also be more talented than (gasp!) Rachel. “From now on, I demand to have every solo in glee club,” the newly confident Brittany announces. “I sang and danced better than [Britney], now I realize what a powerful woman I truly am … I’m more talented than all of you. I see that clearly now.”
Fire off the confetti cannons. Brittany has arrived.
Disappointing, then, that the Britney-amped Brittany disappeared from the “Glee” spotlight last night as fast as sex rioters fleeing an imaginary fire at a high school pep rally. Artie and Rachel’s Britney hallucinations were something of a letdown after Brittany’s. And it should have been her, instead of Will, in the spotlight when the group channeled Spears at the fall homecoming assembly -- subplot be damned. And speaking of subplots, couldn’t the writers have taken the opportunity to give us a little more sense of who Brittany is, to add a little more depth to her character? Even just a comic snippet of home life would have been nice. If not in this episode, when else? I would happily have traded the more-of-the-same Rachel/Finn relationship plotline for that.
2) a) Will Schuester cutting loose is not a pretty sight and b) John Stamos really is going to give Mr. Schue a run for his money. Stamos’ character, Carl the dentist, made Will look like a bundle of neuroses, prompting him to flounder (spontaneously buying a bright yellow Corvette with heated seats) and flop (performing with the kids in an act of desperation) in an attempt to get Emma back. I’m trying to think of another “Glee” character who has initially come off as straightforwardly unneurotic as Stamos’ character (unless you count his enthusiasm for dental hygiene). Can you? Of course it won’t last, though. That lame joke about the glee clubbers gumming their music without their teeth seemed like an early sign of some boyfriend defect.
3) Even in an episode in which she barely factors in, Sue Sylvester will always get the best lines. After she finds 'fro-headed hyper-hormonal blogger Jacob in the library stacks, naked and fantasizing about Rachel dressed as Britney Spears, she summons William into a tete-a-tete and lets loose with this tirade. “Don’t let your own recklessness blind you to the fact that Britney Spears is a genius pop culture provocateur and a gateway drug to every out-of-control impulse ever created,” Sue tells Will. “This school is a powderkeg of sexual deviance, William, and in my office I have a chair with a naked butt-sweat stain to prove it. ... It’s like an ink-blot test, that butt-sweat stain. Stare into it, William, and you’ll see the light of all that is good go out of the world.”
And then after incurring an apparent neck injury in the glee-club-induced “Britney Spears sex riot,” she tells Will, “You can expect a call soon from my lawyer, Gloria Allred. I’m gonna sue the pants off you, Will. I’m going to take your house, your car, your extensive collection of vests. I mean seriously, you wear more vests than the cast of ‘Blossom’!”
What did you think of the episode? Do you think it worked? What were your favorite moments/lines? And what do you think didn’t work? Weigh in!
-- Amy Reiter
Photo: Heather Morris on "Glee." Credit: Fox