Ryan Murphy must have either been shaking his head or snickering over the past few weeks, as the "Is Rocky Horror
too risque for Glee
?" and "Is Glee
too cookie-cutter for Rocky Horror
?" and "What's the point of performing Rocky Horror
if you're just going to censor the crap out of it?" discussions ran in circles all over the place (here included). Maybe he wanted to scream, "That's the whole point!" but then stopped himself, remembering he's often prone to giving too much away.
And the episode did a fine job of speaking for him, lobbing loads of meta-criticism at itself for putting on Rocky Horror
before we even got the chance to do it. As a critic, that can make my job a little less pitchfork-wielding, mob-leading fun. But as a Glee
fan, I was proud of the show's ingenuity and pleased with at least most of its message. And as a Rocky Horror Picture Show
fan, I wasn't writhing on the floor with sacrilege-induced stomach pains. For such an ambitious endeavor (on a prime time high school dramedy, no less) I'd call that a decided win. And for an episode about what's too risque to expose to children, there was still so. Much. Shirtlessness.
I'm still trying to figure out the best way to approach my Glee recaps. It's a beast of a show, and there's so much to discuss! For an episode of these epic, complicated proportions, a straight-up list of loves and hates was the simplest way to organize my thoughts:
Put the "Rock" in Rocky Horror:
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- Plot and Songs, Intertwined: Unlike the Britney Spears episode, tonight's hour didn't need to resort to drug use to work in the songs. Instead, it let Will decide to put on Rocky Horror Picture Show as a play--a play that he then needed to edit to make it PG enough for the high schoolers (which just happens to also be Glee's audience, wouldn't ya know).
- Not a Straight-Up Tribute: It's a good thing, because that would never work, for the network or in the context of the show. Instead, the Glee writers found a way to cleverly frame the censorship, and cover their tracks, by letting Will, Sue and the Gleeks struggle with the question we've all been wondering: What's the point of performing Rocky Horror if you're only going to water down and neuter it? The cleverest part of the episode was the way in which it let Will fail
at answering this question--and ultimately, fail at all his manipulative goals in
putting on the show, except the goal he should have had in the first
place: Using it to help his Glee club kids feel better about themselves. It not only opened the door for discussions about age-appropriateness, "art" versus "pushing boundaries" and body image, but also continued the show's crusade of making Will look like a well-meaning but irresponsible douche. The Gleeks got a chance to shine in their rehearsal renditions of the songs, but since they never performed the show, Rocky Horror's legacy remained intact.
- "Time Warp," "Damn It, Janet" and "Sweet Transvestite": My three favorite songs from Rocky Horror got the gold star Glee treatment, I'd say. Finn was such a fitting Brad Majors in "Damn It, Janet." Loved the "Time Warp" sequence, even though we had to wait all the way until the end for it. And Mercedes put her personal, diva-spin on "Sweet Transvestite," and though she's no Tim Curry (and she hails from "Sin-sational, Transylvania"), she held her own and owned the stage.
Not a transvestite, but still pretty homoerotic.
- JOHN STAMOS: Hot Patootie, bless my soul, Uncle Jesse is hot and only getting hotter as he ages.
Everywhere you look, everywhere you look ...
- Rachel supporting Finn, and Finn taking it all off: Still paying her dues for being so terrible in the first couple of episodes, Rachel managed to be herself--criticizing Schue, demanding the role of Janet, telling Finn how to feel--but a kind(er) and gentle(r) self, who helped convince Finn that he is "hot and sexy" enough to walk down the hall half-naked. Finn/Cory Monteith has got nothing to be ashamed of.
- Kurt as Riff Raff: Chris Colfer, this is your year! He got the crouch, the voice, and the high kicks all right. If only we could have seen him with a death ray at the end.
- Sue making sense: "Don't lead them to it. Don't make it OK. They're KIDS." Also loved, for the Rocky Horror inside-jokery: ""The audience was so enraged having a disabled person in their midst, you know what they did? They threw toast at us."
- Brittany making no sense: "I'm going as a peanut allergy."
- Sue's Corner: Simply incredible. The more platforms Sue gets to spin her twisted views ("crunchy scabs," anyone?), the better:
Put the "Horror" in Rocky Horror:
- Will's opening line: "How did a production of Rocky Horror turn into my horror?" I'm just having a harder and harder time sympathizing with Will. Am I supposed to want him and Emma to get back together? Because all I see is her being happy with a stand-up guy, and him doing his best to be a half-idiot, half-jerk hybrid at every opportunity. Maybe somebody needs to swoop in and make Will better before he's good enough for Emma.
- Meat Loaf and Barry Bostwick's cameos: They were great, but there wasn't enough of them.
EDDIE EDDIE! A**HOLE!
- The Glee girls' justification of their objectification: Instead of saying that no one should make rude comments about each others' bodies, the girls decide it's only fair that they get to criticize the boys' abs and flab. That doesn't exactly reinforce the show's "we're a family" vibe, or the episode's message about acceptance and confidence. I thought Quinn would have learned her lesson about calling other people fat when she was pregnant last year.
- "Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch-A Me": Even though Jayma Mays sounded great, and Matthew Morrison looks great without his shirt on, his O-faces were too much for me. It was awkward, and a little gross. Maybe that has to do with what I said above--I'm not rooting for them as a couple anymore. At least not yet. But I do like that Emma's letting loose!
YES! But also ... no.
- Sam's Manorexia: Someone please tell that kid to lighten up on the lifting and let himself eat some freaking Cool Ranch Doritos! Worrying he'll expose his "nuttage," that I understand. But my admiration for his abs was too tempered by a motherly sense of concern about his body image issues.
- No Puck! He would have made a perfect Eddie. But at least he's coming back in the next episode ... along with Kurt's potential boyfriend!
(Images courtesy of Fox)