Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The RBI Report: "A Very Glee Christmas"

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that was the last new episode of Glee we'll experience until February! Luckily, it ended on a high note. "A Very Glee Christmas" was everything I expected from a Christmas episode: campy, heartwarming, and most importantly, highlighting the true meaning of Christmas - giving!

So, forgive me, guys. I'm a holiday nerd. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Festivus, or whatever - this time of the year makes me freakishly happy. It's hard for even Glee to screw that up for me. To the RBI Report!

"A Very Glee Christmas," written by Ian Brennan, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

The centerpiece of this episode dealt with Brittany's residual childhood belief in Santa Claus, which I think was an intelligent idea. Can any reasonable human being seriously NOT grin like an idiot watching Heather Morris' precious little face light up when she's talking about Santa's magic? I defy anyone to not crack a smile. It's the most heartwarming thing ever. Brittany's adorableness is like the heavy-hitting trump card the Glee writers always have in their back pocket. And I, for one, don't mind. I also don't mind any plotline that highlights Artie's sweet side, because I just cannot take another episode of him being a jerk. Hear that, writers?

I must also take a second to applaud the show's continued lovely portral of Shannon Beiste. I thought her stint as Santa Claus wouldn't really be in a context other than, "Oh, that's sweet," but the character's sensitive and kind nature once again shone through. I was so thrilled to see Brittany and Coach Beiste interacting in a meaningful way, especially considering Brittany inadvertently accused her of sexual harrassment earlier this season. Beiste's take on "Santy Clause" was almost as cute and honest as Brittany's enthusiasm for the mall Santa who may or may not have smelled like McDonalds.

The episode's true gimmick was in the parallels of Sue Sylvester to the infamous Grinch. Sure, it was on-the-nose and cheesy, but I don't care. I love the Grinch, and I don't mind if Glee wants to re-enact the Cindy-Lou-Who scenes with Sue Sylvester in green face paint. I mean, it gave us Becky as the most adorable Rein-dog ever, so I can't complain. All of it was worth it, of course, to see Sue's heart grow three sizes that day when she heard the Glee club singing "Welcome Christmas," which totally made me tear up. (I told you. Holiday nerd.)

Walking the tightrope between good and bad is always challenging when writing characters like Sue, or Terri, or Quinn, or Puck. Glee hasn't always handled it well, but I think their best example is indeed Sue. My favorite Sue moments are usually her being hilariously awful, but I can't help but always remember that she voted for New Directions at Regionals last year. She's just a big ol' softie, and I want them to continue to do right by her character.
Only Sue Sylvester can make me say, "Aww," in response to the phrase, "Nah, I just hate you," and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I was truly blind-sided by the reveal of Artie's walking contraption, and I'm curious to see what they'll do from there. Artie wouldn't be Artie without his wheelchair, and as much as I would like to see him happily fulfilling his dream of dancing, I do love that little element of tragedy in his development. And it's always nice to see characters being happy with who they are, even if it's a struggle. That's what makes it compelling.

But, I'm not goint to nitpick the creative decision because mostly, I like how well the scenario was handled. I love that they let us see Tina's reaction specifically, and let that be a moment, considering her previous interactions with Artie. I love that Brittany was so excited, and the way Quinn said it was a Christmas miracle like she's not as much of a believer as we'd thought. (Am I reading too much into that? Yes? Oh, okay.) I also love, so very very much, that Coach Beiste made Brittany's Christmas wish come true. I cannot even express how much I love that Brittany's wish was for something impossibly selfless, and Beiste matched her selflessness by putting forth a tremendous amount of money (I'm assuming) to make that happen for her. Get on out of here, you guys, here be my two favorite characters!

Other character interactions I enjoyed: I always love a good Will/Rachel dynamic, and I love anytime Sue talks to Emma. (She called her Elmo. ELMO.) Lauren Zises continues to be a scene-stealer, and I kind of want them to develop something between her and Puck. So sue me. The only character interaction I missed was Brittany and Santana. It used to be that you couldn't see one without the other in a two-shot, and while I do appreciate independent character development, I'm sad that their freakishly functional little unit has been splintering.

The other character interaction I'm not particularly interested in seeing right now is (sigh) Finn and Rachel. I know, I know: broken record. Granted, I did discover tonight that I like their duets better when they're not together, no matter how awkward it was to sing "Last Christmas" in the tree yard. The thing that got my goat a little bit was how pathetic Rachel was this episode. On paper, it makes sense. Rachel loves Finn desperately, and will do anything to get him back. Okay. But give the girl a little self-respect, puh-leeeeeze. We know she has it, in every other area of her life. This is why Rachel-in-love never interests me, because she seems to keep no dignity when she's head-over-heels. And it's only funny when she's in Mr. Schue's kitchen making him dinner like a creepo. I'm tired of saying to the television, "Oh, honey, no..."

The other thing that riles me up a bit about the "Finchel" dynamic is Finn's somewhat high-and-mighty "I got cheated on!" rebuttal. On the one hand: yes. Yes, I agree, writers. Finn got cheated on twice and that's got to damage his ego a bit. I applaud this little bit of character detail here that actual hearkens back to episodes previous! Writers paying attention to their characters' histories is always a good thing.


THIS, you guys pay attention to? The fact that Finn got cheated on twice? But no mention of Puck and Quinn giving up a baby, or Quinn giving up said baby to Rachel's birth mother who rejected her, or Brittany and Santana dealing with some level of apparent separation, or Artie dealing with his insecurities about losing his girlfriend to a dancer, or Santana having gotten a boob job, or Mercedes dealing with her best friend attending a new school, or even just the fact that Finn cheated on Quinn twice with Rachel herself? Countless plotlines with amazing potential have been dropped without any fanfare whatsoever on this show, and yet THIS little not-quite-objective detail is the bit of character development the show's giving us right now. And it's mostly there just to justify a Finchel breakup and make us feel sorry for Finn and angry at Rachel, who, while having made some bad choices, deserves better treatment from both the characters and the writers.

Yes, writers paying attention to their characters' histories is a good thing. But writers paying attention to only some of their characters' histories is not. It's all or nothing, Glee. If you're going to half-ass it, I expect better.

Anyways. Despite that little hiccup, I rather enjoyed the Christmas episode, Grinchy parts and all. Over the break, I hope you guys stick around even though there won't be any new episodes for me to review. I never shut up about Glee, so check back in every once in awhile and hopefully there'll be something new up. Also, I'm considering getting a Tumblr, so that could be a fun new development. Stay tuned!

Now, I'm going to go listen to "Welcome Christmas" and grin like the big ol' holiday nerd I am. Happy holidays to you and yours, no matter what you celebrate!


  1. So, this ep was lots of fun. Tom and Lorenzo described it as a tribute to Christmas specials, and that feels right. I loved the Grinch shout-outs and Jeremy liked "Last Christmas" because he is the only straight man alive who unironically enjoys Wham!

    Brittany is magical. I thought it was so sweet that all the glee members were like NO WE CAN'T TELL HER IT ISN'T REAL! Even Puck. That IS hardcore, Puck. You are correct.

    I really hate "Baby, It's Cold Outside" but I liked this version because I think Kurt/Blaine is my OTP for Glee and also I like to listen to it and imagine gay Republican men everywhere in agony. I am a bad person.

    Can't wait to see you at Christmas!

  2. Really enjoyed your recap! I liked the episode too, and will second your emotions on Brittany's belief in Santa, Coach B's sweet and sensetive role in the episode as Santy Clause, and the lovely, moving "Welcome Christmas" arrangement. Also, NO ONE I KNOW is interested in Finn and Rachel anymore. How did Glee's writers manage to make two of their leading characters the least interesting ones on the whole show? Thanks for discussing that, as well as the writers' lack of regard for character history.

    Not that that takes away from the episode's pure fun, cheesiness, and magic...which is kind of the best way to do Christmas :) Thanks again for a great recap!

  3. Diana - I really love "Baby, It's Cold Outside," so I was all good with the Kurt/Blaine duet. I really like them together, but I want Blaine to get a character flaw, stat! Just... something. Nothing huge or crazy. Just something that makes him not perfect. Coz right now? He's pretty perfect.

    Lisa - Thank you! I wish we could get the writers to see that there are fans who are tired of Finn and Rachel, at least in their current states. They could be a really interesting couple on the show, but mostly they're either eye-roll-worthy or make me want to kick something.

    But you're right, it didn't ruin the good Christmas fun! Luckily. And hey, thanks for reading and commenting!


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