Quick spoilers for last night’s Glee below:
I’ll keep my issue with “Mash-Off” brief, because it is essentially the problem I had with last week’s (much superior) “The First Time.” Here’s the thing: Glee is itself a mash-up. At base, it’s a story about kids (and teachers) in Ohio with real, believable problems—a little unrealistic, sure, it’s a musical, but in essence they’re things that teenagers and people generally go through. But onto that is forcibly mashed onto what I’ll call Crazy Glee: a funhouse mirror world of bizarro stories that stretch reality, that seem to exist to keep Ryan Murphy awake and interested, or that are not really even problems.
Last week, this was manifest in a very strong episode whose conflicts over virginity were, for no especially good reason, forced by the ludicrous idea of having Artie essentially assign Rachel and Blaine to have sex. This week had a lot more forgettable scenes and stories—or rather I wish I could forget “Hot for Teacher”—but once again, we saw Good Glee mashed up brutally with Crazy Glee.
The last segment of the show, with the Adele mash-up (above) and Santana’s confronting the fact that she’s a lesbian, was by far the strongest of the episode. Now: a high school student facing being outed to the entire school? Perfectly interesting, fruitful plot in and of itself. But because this is Glee, we have to attach it to a Sue Sylvester storyline that assumes a Congressional campaign would make an attack ad about the sexuality of a cheer-squad leader in some high school in Lima. (The Burt Hummel attack ads were ludicrous too, but at least they were funny and could exist in their own subplot of zaniness—though I hate to see Burt, the show’s most well-drawn adult, drawn into Sue’s crazytown.)
Ditto Puck and Quinn. A pair of teen parents having to confront seeing the baby they gave up for adoption? A little far-fetched, but totally reasonable. But wait! Crazy Glee demands that we attach it to a plot about their having tried to steal the baby.
The best thing you can say about the Glee-mashup dynamic is that hopefully the Good Glee plots will continue and develop and the Crazy Glee plots that they’re attached to will eventually be forgotten, as Glee tends to do. In the meantime, “Mash-Off” was most worth watching for the one-liners—”We have to keep Finn wet before we roll him back in the sea”—and for giving Mercedes and Santana that fine Adele number. They really do sound kind of like banana cream pie does when it sings.