When my boyfriend was a kid, he loved Christmas. He is an open and loving spirit in general, so this isn’t that surprising. But his emotional connection to the holiday was transcendent, bordering on troubling (or perhaps even annoying). To wit: there was a rule in his family that he and his two older siblings had to wait, at the very earliest, until the sun came up on December 25 before they could venture downstairs and begin tearing the wrappings off their be-conifered bundles of joy. But somehow this was too much of a restriction on his exuberant essence, and he would begin banging around in his room starting around 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., champing at the bit and waking up everyone else, thus Ruining Christmas by both disrupting his kin’s diurnal cycles, and interrupting their ability to sleep off their eggnog and tryptophan hangovers. So one fair Noel, his parents and siblings conspired to put a stop to this practice, sneaking into his room on Christmas Eve while he slumbered, and hanging thick swaths of black velvet over his windows. As the story goes, they all then woke up the next morning at a normal hour, gorged themselves on bacon and eggs and biscuits, and began exuberantly opening their gifts, while my BF laid in his room until well into morning’s double-digits, waiting for (false) dawn. When he finally realized, he was crushed—the holiday was never the same for him.
This week’s Christmas-themed episode of Glee was just like this.
It was full of enforced expectation, senseless cruelty, joy predicated on the suffering of others, the deferment of that which is rightfully deserved, and the eventual realization that the true spirit of the season comes not from tramping down the naïve bliss of others, but from the pleasure-fount derived from pretending not to tramp down the naïve bliss of others.
If you think of the holidays, like I do, as a steaming pile of fraught anticipation, compounded by desperation, and eventually engendering feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, and anomie, then you probably identified with much of “A Very Glee Christmas.” There was, as in all the least successful episodes, a needless focus on the adult characters. The Will bit was organized around Mr. Shue’s clearly confusing the Biblical story of Jesus’ birth with that of the Book of Job, resulting in his subjecting the kids to increasingly humiliating acts that included, but were not limited to: caroling in front of their peers, threading popcorn garlands, throwing popcorn garlands with feigned jouissance, wearing some of the ugliest sweater vests seen in any form of visual entertainment since the (thankful) demise of Andy Capp, and extorting monies from his colleagues on the teaching staff through another round of caroling. (Because everyone knows that if you really need money, the people to hit up are all those rich public high school teachers—not, like, the wealthiest 2 percent of the population who just received an extension of their grotesque Bush-era [author spits on the ground] tax cuts.)
Also, was it just me, or did it seem, for a second, like Will and Rachel were maybe going to hook up at the end?
The Sue bit was even more convoluted, if something unambiguous and on-the-nose can also be called convoluted. As far as I could tell, it involved her gaming the Secret Santa system so all the extravagant gifts from the wealthy teachers came to her, then smearing her face with enough verdant shmutz to resemble Margaret Hamilton or a giant green apple Jolly Rancher, and finally alternating—like a schizophrenic deprived of her Rispederal—between destroying and saving the holiday spirit. I think Jane Lynch is great, but can’t there be more to her character than this bifurcated AC/DC schtick? Having a character behave one way, and then behave in the exact opposite manner doesn’t make them complex. It makes them insipid and inconsistent. I know there’s more to Sue than this.
Rescuing us from all of the banality and hideousness, once again, was a storyline centered on Brittany S. Pierce, who, like my boyfriend in his youth, steadfastly refused to be stripped of her holiday spirit. Undeterred by the most capricious fleet of Santas since Billy Bob Thornton, played by a pervy black guy who smells like Big Macs, the aforementioned glaucous-skinned Ms. Sylvester, and (most convincingly) a snowy-maned power-lifting Yeti, like a hovering dove with a beak full of olive branch, Brittany clings to her eternal spring, expecting that her boyfriend Artie’s limberless limbs will be Saint Nick-tumescified. Being the cruel and heartless bitch—and tireless campaigner for the glories of failure as a means of character development—that I am, I prayed to my patron saint, Old Nick (aka Lucifer) that this desire would be trampled, like some minimum wage Wal-Mart worker on Black Friday. Alas, the show deprived me of my one true wish. Artie received some sort of mechanized shank strap-ons, which allowed him to stand around in the choir room with rapidly diminishing steadfastness—like someone coasting down from the world’s worst waterskiing run, or marionette whose strings had been snipped. All of which prompted the question, “Why?” Don’t get me wrong. Heather Morris is a genius, and I relish the fact that she got so much play this week. But maybe if she’d wanted Artie to be able to walk for a reason (like, so he join her in an amazing dance routine) it would have resonated more. Just sayin’.
Also, Rachel and Finn are still broken up (and still talking—and singing—about it. Yawn.) The new fat girl somehow has more lines and plotlines than Mercedes, even though she’s only been on the show for, like, a week. And Kurt is still squirreled away in Homo Hogwarts, learning to comb his hair like the Tom Ford-ish Blaine. Oh, and the show’s now on hiatus until February. But, don’t worry. That won’t stop us from finding new ways to feed your Glee fix. Stay tuned.
Song Rating (* to *****)
• “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year” (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Special) ** Blech. But the kids are so winningly adorable.
• “We Need a Little Christmas” (Mame) ** Ditto
• “Merry Christmas, Darling” (The Carpenters) * I would rather be eating my own vomit. One star for Karen Carpenter’s unwillingness to do the same, and eventual tragic demise as a result.
• “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (Frank Loesser) ***** Gay Sno-Melt
• “You’re a Mean One, Sue the Grinch” (Dr. Seuss, sort of) ** Proving the idea, once again, that even Glee can get too arch.
• “Last Christmas” (Wham!) ** Rachel sings again? One extra star awarded for Wham!’s exclamation point.
• “Welcome Christmas” (More Grinchiness) I don’t really know what to say here. I hate myself for hating this. But I also hate it.
• Rachel inviting Will over on Christmas to eat Chinese and watch The Main Event
Photo Credit: FOX.
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