'Glee' recap: Gwyneth Paltrow brings back the 'Sexy'!
In the months since Gwyneth Paltrow first appeared on "Glee" as say-anything substitute teacher Holly Holliday -- making us love her, perhaps for the very first time -- the old feelings of resentfulness and irritation had started to creep back in. How absurd was that (widely ridiculed) blog post on her website, Goop, in which she cluelessly equated the lives of rich, famous, extremely successful women (like her and Stella McCartney and some venture capitalist) with the lives of everyday working mothers? Is it really fair that she's poised to follow her acting success with what may well be a promising (and, if recent reports are correct, extremely well-remunerated) musical career? And why must she continue to so brazenly challenge our firmly held belief that it's totally OK -- expected even -- to let yourself go a little after having a couple of children?
But on Tuesday night, Gwyneth was back on "Glee," bringing the sexy to "Sexy" (yeah, that was the name of the episode) and a smile to my face that I can only hope wasn't quite as goofy as the one smeared all over Will Schuester's face after she burst back into his life as he and Emma were in the middle of discussing the finer points of celibacy.
If I never like Paltrow for any other reason, I suspect I will always love her (at least a little) for Holly.
Then again, it looks like Paltrow may have further opportunities to either cement or chip away at that love: At the end of the episode, we learn that she and Will will try to fan those sparks of romance kindled by their torrid tango to Prince's "Kiss."
We learn a lot of other things in this episode, too. Among them:
1) Emma and John Stamos' hot dentist, Dr. Carl, haven't had sex even now, four months after their quickie Vegas wedding: That Emma has somehow been saving herself for Will is not a surprise. What was a surprise was that incredible rendition of "Afternoon Delight" she and the members of her celibacy club (which included Quinn, Rachel and -- for complicated but funny reasons -- Puck). The powder-blue 1970s outfits: the long, floral-patterned skirts, frilly blouses and neckerchiefs! The tasty desserts projected on the backdrop! The bicentennially blissful facial expressions! John Stamos on drums! The look on Artie's face as he was watching! I rank it among the best moments of "Glee" ever.
2) Why Santana is such a pain all the time: It's because she has been hiding her true feelings for best friend and "lady kiss" partner Brittany under a thick layer of anger, afraid of what the world will label her if she acknowledges those feelings. Stirred by a trio (Santana, Brittany and Holly) performance of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," Santana confesses her love for Brittany, who -- another surprise! -- lets her down, albeit gently. "If Artie and I were to ever break up and I'm lucky enough that you're still single, I'm so yours." Oof! But I'm glad to see the Sapphic storyline -- which had just seemed tacked on for a laugh, in stark contrast to the far more serious treatment of Kurt's gay-teen issues -- given a little emotional weight. And also to see Naya Rivera, who plays Santana, get a chance to show some range.
3) Burt Hummel really is the best dad: At Blaine's urging, Kurt's father reluctantly sits an equally reluctant Kurt down for a heart-to-heart about sex, and what in any other hands would be awkward -- "We're both gonna be better men for it," Burt says -- turns out to be emotional perfection. Dispensing with the mechanics by handing Kurt a few pamphlets, Burt instead focuses on the emotional risks of sex, and in particular of sex between two men. Kurt is going to be tempted to think that sex is just empty, harmless fun, Burt warns, but "you gotta know that it means something" -- that it's doing something to his heart and his self-esteem. When he's ready, Kurt should use sex "as a way to connect to another person," Burt says. "Don’t throw yourself around like you don't matter. 'Cause you matter, Kurt." That's about the best message a parent can give a teen of any orientation. Incredible.
4) For a club whose members have switched partners almost as often as they switched keys -- and who have produced at least one child -- the glee club sure doesn't know a lot about the birds and the bees. Finn and the great hot-tub-conception deception was just the beginning: Brittany thinks storks bring babies. Mercedes and Finn think you can get AIDS from cucumbers. Kurt's sexy faces look -- at least to the object of his affection -- like nothing so much as gas pains. Somehow, however, that doesn't stop them from joining Holly Holiday for giving a raunchy rendition of the Gary Glitter/Joan Jett hit "Do You Wanna Touch Me." "Too much?" wonders Will. Hmmm ... what do you think?
5) That the topic of sex really sharpens "Glee" writers' pens. To wit, the episode featured some great lines. Just a few plucked at random off an overstuffed banquet table:
“A nooner’s when you have dessert in the middle of the day, right?” –- Emma
"The key is to use your curling iron in the bathtub to keep you from being burnt." –- Brittany
"I made out with a mannequin. I even had a sex dream about a shrub that was in the shape of a person." -- Santana
"My sex tape with J.D. Salinger was a disaster." –- Holly
"So just remember, when you're having sex with someone, you're having sex with everyone they've ever had sex with. And everybody's got a random." -- Holly
Really, there were so many good lines in this episode. Please share your favorites in the comments section. And let us know: Are you rooting for Will and Holly -– or for Will and Emma? For Finn and Quinn –- or Finn and Rachel? For Brittany and Santana –- or Brittany and Artie? And what did that line from Sam to Artie about wanting to be as close to him as their girlfriends portend: Will we one day discover that Sam is gay (a future romantic interest for Kurt, perhaps?) or is Sam just naïve?
And hold onto your bobby socks -– next week, regionals (and more Gwyneth)!
-- Amy Reiter
Photo: Will (Matthew Morrison) and Holly (Gwyneth Paltrow) share a moment in the "Sexy" episode of "Glee." Credit: Adam Rose / Fox
Photo: Emma (Jayma Mays) performs in the "Sexy" episode of "Glee." Credit: Michael Yarish / Fox