Last week I wrote about how much I love it when Glee does zany, absurdist comedy (like Brittany believing in leprechauns) and how much I hate the earnest, teenage melodrama. So naturally, this week’s episode of Glee, “The First Time,” infuriates me on a grand scale. The entire episode plays like a serious teen soap about having sex for the first time, with everyone behaving wildly out of character and making some of the world’s worst decisions.
It all begins when directing the school musical goes to Artie’s head and he becomes obsessed with telling people what to do. He doesn’t believe Rachel and Blaine’s performances because they’re virgins, so he essentially orders them to have sex so they can be better actors. This is the first of many problems I have with this episode. Acting is about pretending, and if Rachel is really a great actress, she’d be able to play the emotion without needing to have sex. But on Glee, acting is synonymous with being yourself, which is the basis for The Glee Project, where Ryan Murphy tried to find someone to inspire a character rather than the other way around.
Rachel and Finn
Rachel immediately takes Artie up on his offer and tries to sleep with Finn, but when he learns that she’s only doing this for the role, he’s offended, as he should be, and puts an end to it. At least one character on this show is behaving responsibly. Unfortunately, after one performance, Rachel sees the error of her ways and realizes that she should have sex with Finn because she loves him, so they do it. I guess in the span of one day, Rachel became infinitely more mature. Now if only she’d drop out of the race for student council president instead of trying to steal the thunder from Kurt and Brittany.
Finn also gets a big scene when the football scout tells him that he’s not good enough to play in college. Finn is crushed because, in his mind, singing and football are the only two things that exist, and since he’s not good enough at either to get a college scholarship, his life is over. It’s hard to feel sympathy for him because his premise is highly flawed. Most people go to college without knowing what they want to do for the rest of their lives, so this hardly counts as a huge setback in his life. Plus, his stepdad has already offered to let him run their garage, which sounds like a pretty sweet fallback career.
Kurt and Blaine
These two have agreed to keep their hands north of the Equator, but all that starts to change when Blaine goes back to Dalton and meets Sebastian, the new gay Warbler. Sebastian is like the teenage version of Queer as Folk‘s Brian Kinney, a sexual predator who instantly targets Blaine and tries to jump his bones within about two seconds. He’s a bad guy, and as proof, he pops his collar like an ’80s movie villain. That single wardrobe choice might be small, but it’s my favorite part of the episode.
Sebastian invites Kurt and Blaine to West Lima’s gay bar. First, West Lima has a gay bar? Second, what bouncer would ever believe in the ridiculously lame fake IDs Sebastian secured? None of that matters, because it’s just an excuse to get Blaine drunk and reintroduce Karofsky.
Yes, Karofsky, who transferred to another school, is now more comfortable being gay, at least in private. Kurt has a nice scene with him where he explains that he’s OK with Karofsky coming out at his own speed. Since when? Wasn’t Kurt the one who pleaded with Karofsky to come out at the prom? Kurt’s attitude towards Karofsky has turned 180 degrees since the last time they were together, and for Kurt to actually say that he’s OK with people doing it their own way is contradictory to everything he’s ever said and done. Kurt is bossy, self-righteous and thinks he knows better than everyone else.
Once again we also learn that alcohol turns Blaine into a total d-bag as he tries to force Kurt into having sex in the backseat of a car outside of the gay bar. Kurt is understandably not interested in having his first time be with a drunk guy who was just dancing with another man. But just like with Rachel, Blaine is able to grow up in just one day and the next night he’s sweet, devoted to Kurt and the two go back to his house to get it on. I’d complain about the lack of consistency in Blaine’s character, but I’m not even sure he has a character. One minute he’s the perfect, sweet boyfriend, the next he’s a lame, aggressive tool, and then he’s sweet again. He just behaves however the writers need him to behave in order for the scene to work.
Coach Beiste and Cooter
After the ridiculous first times for Rachel, Blaine and Kurt, full of terrible inconsistency, the episode actually has one dramatic storyline that works. Coach Beiste is crushing on the football recruiter, and after Artie plays matchmaker, the two actually get together. Beiste has a great scene where she tears up while telling Cooter that hot guys like him don’t fancy girls like her, and her fragile lack of self-esteem is both believable and heartfelt. Unlike the scenes with Rachel and Finn or Kurt and Blaine, this actually rings true and is able to rise above the silly melodrama of the rest of the episode. Yes, it’s still annoying that the show is being more of a drama than a comedy, but at least Dot-Marie Jones is a brilliant enough actress to make it work.
The Other Characters
The episode has two other relatively interesting developments. In the first, Mike Chang’s father disowns him in the most over-the-top, terribly cliched scene ever. Luckily it’s just one short scene so we don’t need to waste more time on it. In the other development, from the scenes of West Side Story we get to watch, Santana’s performance as Anita is about a million times better than anything else in the entire production. It’s definitely better than Rory’s accent, though I’m kind of curious how Rory was cast since he didn’t show up until last week.
I’m sure all the Finnchel and Klaine fans will disagree with everything I just wrote, but I stand by it. Almost everyone was behaving wildly out of character, plot developments made no sense, Artie was the most inappropriate human being in the history of the world when he asked Coach Beiste if she’s a virgin, and the entire episode was more serious and dramatic than the show has ever been. After “Pot o’ Gold” was so ridiculous and silly, it’s impossible for me to enjoy an entire episode that feels like an after-school special.
(Image courtesy of FOX)