‘Glee’-Cap 1.17: Finally, Harem Pants are Back!

I find ‘Glee’ the perfect cool-down show after finishing up a stressful episode of ‘Lost’. It’s light and frothy, has interesting characters, genuinely funny comedy, and all those hugely entertaining musical numbers. I still dread the eventual day when the Ryan Murphy curse kills it, but for now the show is chugging along nicely. This week’s episode, ‘Bad Reputation’, is about… well, bad reputations, musical and otherwise. Mr. Schuester assigns the glee kids a project of “rehabilitating” notoriously bad songs, which he demonstrates with his own riotously funny performance of “Ice Ice Baby.” Word to yo’ mutha!

While that happens, someone has secretly posted fliers around the school with a “GList,” which ranks the glee club members in order of hotness. Naturally, those at the bottom of the list (Rachel) aren’t too happy about this. And you can imagine how those who didn’t make the list at all (like Arty, Mercedes, and Kurt) feel about it. Tired of their dorky, goody-two-shoes reputations, they decide that it’s time to make themselves look “edgy.” The results are mixed, to say the least.

Rachel leads the way with her class project, an elaborate music video for the cheesetastic ’70s story-song “Run Joey Run.” She’s structured it to make herself look like the object of desire for which the cutest boys in class (Finn, Puck, and Jesse) fall all over themselves to be with. Once the boys (who were each filmed separately, without knowledge of the others) realize what she’s done, they’re none too pleased. Rachel’s narcissism finally drives everyone away, including boyfriend Jesse.

For their reputation makeover, Kurt, Mercedes, Arty, and Tina seem to believe that disrupting the library with a performance of “U Can’t Touch This” – complete with awesome M.C. Hammer wardrobe – will make them look like rebels or something. For this, they also enlist dumbbell cheerleader Brittany, who gets in some of the best lines of the episode.

Of course, Sue has a prominent storyline as well. After a video of her bursting out into an impromptu rendition of “Physical” in the locker room makes its way to YouTube, Sue becomes the laughing stock of the school for a while. Even new teacher Molly Shannon, a proud souse and very likely drug addict, makes fun of her. Sue tries to turn this around by “counseling” the only teacher in the school worse off than she is (Emma) how to grow some backbone. Eventually, she turns the tables on everyone when Olivia Newton-John herself sees the YouTube video and recruits Sue to co-star in a brand new remake of the original “Physical” video. This isn’t quite as genius as the shot-for-shot “Vogue” remake from a couple episodes ago, but it’s still pretty darn funny.

While ‘Bad Reputation’ features some of the most inspired song choices of the season (I haven’t even mentioned “Total Eclipse of the Heart”), I have to admit that the lip synching is particularly bad here. Especially during “Ice Ice Baby,” where it’s so obvious that the episode’s director very overtly stages the action so as to show the actors’ faces on camera as little as possible. “U Can’t Touch This” isn’t much better.

Even more annoying, Sue is heavily auto-tuned during the “Physical” video. I absolutely cannot stand the sound of auto-tuning. It grates on my nerves. I’d rather listen to a genuinely bad singer in his or her natural voice than a mediocre singer whose voice has been electronically distorted to disguise it. Jane Lynch deserves better.

Once again, this week’s episode was delayed by a few minutes due to ‘American Idol’ spilling over, which caused the end of the episode to get cut off on many recordings. This will undoubtedly continue to happen. Those of you who DVR the show (like I do) are advised to pad about five minutes onto the end every week.

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