Glee "The Substitute" Reaction/Song Review

I have a question for the makers of "Glee": is your show something that is supposed to be taken seriously, with fun and creative insight on issues affecting today's youth, or is it some ridiculous fantasy land where the absurd can happen on a weekly basis and we're just supposed to accept it. Because quite frankly, I don't know, and this three episode swing from "Rocky Horror Glee Show" to "Never Been Kissed" to "The Substitute" has just been insane.

Amazingly -- and given the stretches this show has pulled over 29 episodes -- I think this episode was the most ridiculous in "Glee" history. Sue somehow being elevated to interim principal, then getting Figgins and Mr. Schuester fired? Umm, what? Will getting sick and having his ex-wife nurse him back to health. Just gross. And the students revolting over the removal of Tater Tots from the school cafeteria menu. That's… actually, I agree with that one.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Holly Holliday joins Kristin Chenoweth's April Rhodes as "Glee" guest characters who seemed like a good idea on paper, but just didn't work. Even with her big confessional with Will at the end, the character just felt like something out of some absurd high school fantasy land. And then, after all the insanity, everything is all back to status quo at the end, sending the message that we've just wasted an entire hour.

As for the actual glee club, where did this whole "Mr. Shue never lets us do what we want to do" thing come from? I didn't hear anyone objecting to the Journey medley at last year's regionals, they beat him down on Britney and performed "Push It" against his wishes at the beginning of last year. It just added to the whole "WTF?"-ness of the episode. And then, again, with the reversal at the end, it just made it seem like everyone was on crack for the majority of the episode.

The episode wasn't without its solid moments. Sue had some great lines, as did Holly. The interactions between Kurt and Mercedes were kind of sweet. And then there was Brittany, who I want to have my stupid, stupid babies:

"Mr. Schuester taught me the second half of the alphabet. I stopped after M and N. I felt they were too similar and got frustrated."

Even a bad episode of "Glee" has music, so let's get to the song review:

Conjunction Junction - Incomplete
Are we counting this as a performance? I mean, there was singing, but it was like 30 seconds long. It was OK, but it wasn't really a song.

Forget You - F
The "clean" version of this song shouldn't exist. And no version of this song should ever be sung by a skinny white bitch. We've got a new leader in the clubhouse for my least favorite song on "Glee" this season.

Make 'Em Laugh - C
To put it simply, "SNL did it." I think Joseph Gordon Levitt's performance was better, and this came the hell out of nowhere.

Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag - B
Completely randomly, this song came on my iPhone the other day, and I'd forgotten how much I liked it. I still like the original cast and movie versions better, and I think this version would have been better if done with Rachel and one of the other Glee club members, rather than Paltrow. It just continued the whole unbelievability of this substitute teacher.

Umbrella/Singin' in the Rain - B
Gwyneth Paltrow has an OK voice. For an actress, she's pretty good. But compared to the rest of the Glee cast, her voice is weak, and it brings down this son. Not too much, as you can tell by my grade, but it's noticeable. Also, this is the second consecutive week where the show did a mash-up, when I really would have preferred they just perform one of the songs in the mash-up (Livin' on a Prayer last week, Umbrella this week). Maybe it's time to put the mash-ups on the back burner for awhile.

For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the TV Reviews home page.


  1. Well too bad, Anonymous, because I 100% agree with this review. The show's lack of consistency is getting ridiculous. This episode was plain bad, and would be my last favorite of the season if "Britney/Brittany" hadn't been so horrid. After the glorious "Never Been Kissed", this week is a huge disappointment.

  2. I loved this episode just for its fabulous one-liners and the music for one of the first times felt like a side show rather than the main attraction in the episode... I think there wasn't a minute where I wasn't laughing my head off.. I agree the Anonymous I disagree 100%

  3. Regarding the songs, 'Make 'em Laugh' was a homage to the original in Singing in the Rain, with virtually identical choreography. But the Donald O'Connor number in the movie is a solo dance. I guess the actor who plays Mike Chang REALLY can't sing, because it looked weird to have him dancing with Will without singing at all. The Chicago number was primarily a dance number, so I'm not quite sure why they picked that one, except to show off the actors' legs. It didn't show off their voices, and Ms. Paltrow does have a very good voice. 'Forget You' I liked. Different from the original, obviously, but fun and fresh. The 'Singing in the Rain/Umbrella' mash up was a mess - two songs that are un-mashable, IMHO.

    In terms of story, I always love Kurt and Mercedes, and wish the writers would do more with her generally. Most of her screen time is spent singing, but the actor is engaging and endearing and woefully underutilized. Glad to see Kurt's found a friend (Blaine) to share everything gay, but the show was again veering into stereotype with that dinner scene - so gays can only talk about 'gay' stuff? I completely agree that the show should not have gone there with Will and Terri, even though I do like the actor who plays Terri. I think the whole point of that was to get to her last line, when she tells Will he will be very, very sorry he's rejected her. Oooh, ominous! I predict an unholy pact between Sue and Terri to sabotage Regionals. Karofsky? All I can say is, writers, make up your minds. One minute he's making out-of-character sexual overtures in the cafeteria, the next he's threatening to kill Kurt. At least that last bit was in character, but soooo heavy-handed. C'mon guys, a little creativity, please!


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