As if you hadn’t noticed, I’m a little delinquent in writing this ‘Glee’ recap for an episode that aired two weeks ago. Fortunately, the show took a break without a new episode last week. Since the next new episode airs tonight, I figured that I should finally get around to finishing this up. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what happens when the Glee Club gets drunk!
I’m beginning to suspect that the show’s producers have run out of good musical acts to highlight, and have set a challenge for themselves to do what they can with some of today’s lousier musical “artists.” In recent weeks, we’ve had an excess of Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. Now, ‘Blame It on the Alcohol’ gives us some Ke$ha. Ugh. This also, sadly, means the return of auto-tuning, which the show had otherwise dialed back lately. That’s a shame, because the show’s cast have much better voices than most current pop stars. (It was kind of nice to hear Katy Perry songs performed by people who can actually sing.)
Anyway, McKinley High has a serious problem with students coming to school drunk. Principal Figgins declares an Alcohol Awareness Week, and is going to bring in Kitty Dukakis as a guest speaker. (He really knows what teenagers respond to, doesn’t he?) He asks the Glee Club to prepare a special musical number about the dangers of drinking, to be performed at the big assembly. The kids, of course, think that this is a big load of crap. Santana insists, “I am aware… of how much fun alcohol is.”
Rachel has been working on that song she’s writing for Regionals, which she hopes will help her complete her “journey from little princess to natural woman.” Unfortunately, the best she can come up with is a corny ode to her headband. She recognizes that she hasn’t had enough life experience to draw from.
With her two fathers out of town, Rachel agrees to hold a party at her house for the Glee Club. Wine coolers will be served, because she’s decided that it’s about time to see what this alcohol business is all about. The other kids aren’t too enthused about that, and pressure her to break into her dads’ liquor cabinet. With the exception of Finn and Kurt, both of whom stay sober, everyone else proceeds to get wasted.
Finn observes that drunk girls can always be grouped into certain known categories. Santana is the weepy, hysterical drunk. Mercedes and Tina are the happy drunks. Quinn and Lauren are the angry drunks. Brittany thinks she’s a stripper. Naturally, Rachel is the clingy, needy drunk. During a game of “Spin the Bottle,” Rachel has to kiss Blaine, which turns into a very weird experience for both of them.
The next day, the kids show up to school with bad hangovers. Artie brings some “hair of the dog” Bloody Marys to help them get through, and leads a pretty good performance of Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It on the Alcohol.” Oblivious Mr. Schuester thinks that they were just acting drunk during the song, and suggests that they might need to pick something that doesn’t glorify drinking so much.
Will worries that he’s being a hypocrite. He remembers how much fun he used to have drinking as a teenager. Coach Beiste convinces him to join her at her favorite honky-tonk bar, where he has quite a bit to drink and performs John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” He then goes home and, in a hilarious scene, grades papers while blitzed and drunk-dials what he assumes is Emma’s voicemail (but we can already tell isn’t).
After their kiss, Rachel is convinced that she’s turned Blaine straight and that he will be the love of her life. Even Blaine is left confused by the experience, and decides that he needs to experiment with his sexuality before defining himself as exclusively gay. Kurt tells him that it was only the alcohol that confused him. He also comes right out and tells Rachel that she’s a fag hag. To prove him wrong, Rachel vows to kiss Blaine sober. She meets with him at a coffee shop and lays a big smooch on him, at which point all of Blaine’s confusion is straightened out: “Yup, I’m gay!” Rather than be upset by this, Rachel is actually happy that the experience of dating and getting dumped by a gay man has given her valuable songwriting fodder.
Kitty Dukakis declines to appear at the school assembly at the last minute “due to disinterest.” This leaves the show entirely in Glee Club’s hands. As you’d expect, the kids had been drinking beforehand for courage. The team powers through a sloppy rendition of Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” (no worse than the real thing). Brittany even manages to pull off a pretty awesome split on stage, but then, at the end of the song, projectile vomits right onto Rachel’s face. This prompts Santana to vomit on stage as well.
The next morning, the kids all fear that they’re going to get suspended. To the contrary, Figgins is ecstatic. He thinks that the whole thing was staged and that the vomit was “special effects.” The horrible end of the act scared the rest of the school straight. Overt drunkenness during school hours has declined tremendously. However, lest we think that everyone is out of the woods, Sue plays Will’s drunken voicemail over the school intercom to humiliate him.
Will vows to stop drinking. Realistically, he knows that he’s unlikely to convince the kids to do the same forever. The compromise he finds is to make the students sign pledges not to drink until Regionals are over. Still feeling the after-effects and shame of their behavior, they happily agree.
All things considered, as a Very Special Episode with a Very Important Message, ‘Blame It on the Alcohol’ delivers a fairly even-handed lesson for network television. It doesn’t quite demonize drinking (even teenage drinking), but rather focuses on the negative consequences of doing it in excess. And those consequences mostly consist of simple stupidity and embarrassment. No one dies an awful booze-related death in the episode. No one gets alcohol poisoning or hit by a drunk driver. Quite frankly, Will and Beiste have a really good time getting drunk, and the episode is honest that the reason teenagers like to drink is that drinking can be fun. That’s kind of refreshing, in its way.