TV: ‘Glee’ comes back with catfights

By Meryl Gottlieb | | @buzzlightmeryl
Glee airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox
Rating: 2/5


Glee returned this week after being off-air for three months. Personally, I could have done with another three months free of this show, but the sooner the episodes come, the sooner it can end.

We know the show will be making a permanent move to New York soon, and hopefully it will help pick up the lackluster show. The scenes in McKinley are worse than ever, and I cannot wait until the kids graduate, so we never have to return again.

This week’s episode is all about “Frenemies,” so let’s begin where it typically starts: high school. Though they just sang “Whenever I Call You Friend,” Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) and Artie (Kevin McHale) are now in a competition to become Valedictorian. I guess Tuesday lunches, which are apparently a thing for them, are out the window. I don’t think Sue (Jane Lynch) can actually start a competition for Valedictorian. It’s just something you achieve. Eventually one person will come out with the better grades.

Tina wants Artie to drop out of the race so she can get the edge she needs to get into Brown University. We all know there’s nothing worse than attending Ohio State, am I right Bobcats? Artie finally calls her out for being so, well, snarky this year, and Tina attacks his relationship with Kitty.

On top of this competition, Will (Matthew Morrison) calls for a sing-off — because why not — for the last solo opportunity at Nationals. They jam to “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It),” and Tina knocks Artie out of his wheelchair. I’m not really sure how to explain how little I care about this storyline. Ushkowitz doesn’t even know how to play Tina, so how are we supposed to care about her? The show isn’t great, but I think it’s going to be significantly better once it’s out of high school.

It doesn’t even matter. Both rescind from the race and the vote is a tie. Naturally, Blaine (Darren Criss) is the third best student, so he is going to be Valedictorian. Obviously, no one else goes to this school so they only have glee kids to choose from. But it’s all fine and dandy because Blaine wants to sing for his Valedictorian speech — NOPE, please don’t — and he wants Tina and Artie to sing with him. UGH.

However, I must say this is the first episode I’ve seen in a long time in which the great Sue one-liners have returned full force. It is the only enjoyable thing left in Lima.

In New York, Rachel (Lea Michele) consoles a frustrated Santana (Naya Rivera) and offers her a gig as a background model in her New York Magazine cover shoot. She says help; I say slap in the face. The two sing “Brave” at the shoot, which just oh so happens to be in the NYADA dance studio. Sure, Santana needs to be “brave” in the moment, but I’ve stopped trying to rationalize their decisions. Nevertheless, it was a great scene. Zach Woodlee really knows how to choreograph a number. It was beautiful. I’m not being sarcastic when I say that I’m thrilled to finally be excited about a performance. It really doesn’t happen anymore.

But the lovey dovey friendship songs won’t happen anymore. After singing, “Don’t Rain on My Parade” for her audition, Santana is chosen as Rachel’s understudy in Funny Girl, much to Rachel’s chagrin. Of course Rivera’s has amazing vocals, but I don’t see her on Broadway. You can’t just sing well to make in on the Great White Way. You also can’t just do your audition as you walk down the theater aisle. A “nobody” would ever be allowed to do that.

Rachel is distressed Santana sang “Ms. Streisand’s song,” one that she will look after when Babs dies, and that she is taking the role as the person whose sole goal is to win while the real star loses. It’s in these arguments that some heavy truths are revealed. Santana believes every step Rachel takes in this city is fueled by the hatred the “Unholy Trinity” put in her in high school. Rachel believes this is another time when Santana is planning on sabotaging Rachel and her bright future. Rachel even slaps Santana.

The two continue to fight, but Funny Girl director Carlisle Cullen Rupert (Peter Facinelli) tells them to stop because the big story for the show is that these two potential breakthrough stars managed to come out of the same small town in Ohio. It all has to be “puppy dogs and rainbows,” to which Santana deliciously replies, “Well, we know who the dog is.” There were a ton of lines like these, and I loved them all.

The two watch each other like predators stalking their prey as they sing “Every Breath You Take.” This song used to be great for cute montages. Now, I realize how creepy it can be. Once again, this was a greatly choreographed number.

rip pictureIt all comes down to an argument about who will stay in the apartment. In the end, Rachel deceives to leave the “toxic” environment — Santana just wants to eat the crumbs of her “star sandwich” — and moves out of the apartment. Before she goes, she rips a picture of the two from graduation in half. I was quite surprised with this storyline. I know Rachel can be the bigheaded star, but I thought it would take a bit more before she went full-fledged diva. Funny Girl hasn’t even opened, and she thinks she’s a star. Also, no one needed that last scene. How cliché was that?! We understand the relationship is over; we don’t need that terrible literal translation. Grow up.

Another frenemies battle ensues between Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Starchild/ Elliott (Adam Lambert) when Kurt thinks Starchild wants to take over the band. He starts spending time with him to see what he’s up to. Kurt begs him to teach him to play guitar and Elliott insists he simply get his own. Naturally, that leads to a musical number in the guitar shop to “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” It all started because Elliott asked, “Hey do you know how to play this song?” I think Glee has actually stopped trying to figure out a way to properly include the covers. The transition wasn’t the only thing that felt fishy. They’re glam-rocking out and Kurt’s all over a pole; I smell foreshadowing of a soon-to-be failing engagement.

It ends with the two being friends and taking fun selfies. However, that selfie is posted on social media, and Blaine is less than pleased.

To audition their graduation song, the glee club sings “Breakaway” because how dare the show ever end on something other than a song.

Overall, “Frenemies” was certainly better than some of the other terrible episodes this season. But, as always, it’s still really not great. Some of the songs are finally enjoyable again; the snarky lines are enticing; and Darren Criss is great to look at. However, the storylines are crap; the acting really isn’t all that great; and Chord Overstreet needs to cut his hair.

Honestly, my cynicism for this show has grown exponentially. Everyone asks me why I continue to watch and review the show, and I’m starting to really find it unbearable and am asking myself the same question.

What did you think of Glee’s return? Are you still watching? Bueller? Bueller? Let me know @buzzlightmeryl


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