The theme of last night's "Glee" was supposed to be about the dangers of underage teens getting wasted, but instead it turned into a wasted opportunity for Ryan Murphy and Co. to shed some light on a very serious issue.
It just so happened to be Principal Figgins' mandated Alcohol Awareness Week when Rachel's dads are out of town, leaving her with a chaperon-free household. Upon learning the news, Puck pressures her to throw a party at her house. Deciding its time to shake off her good girl image (which now includes writing odes to the wonder that is her headband), Rachel obliges.
When she throws the lamest party ever, in what can only be described as the most horrendous party dress ever, Puck kicks things up a notch and breaks into Rachel's dads' liquor cabinet, promising to replace it later. We're never told at any point in the episode if he actually does or not, the first of many consequence-free actions by the students at McKinley High.
The shindig gets very wild, very quickly, complete with drunk games (quarters, spin the bottle), drunk personalities (Lauren and Quinn are angry drunks, Santana is an irrational drunk, Brittany is a stripper drunk, etc.) and drunk karaoke (a newly very friendly Rachel and Blaine performing the ep's best number by far, a cover of the '80s classic "Don't You Want Me" by The Human League).
In fact, it was such hardcore partying that the gang is still quite hungover (some still drunk, actually) come Monday morning. Even with raging hangovers (aversion to light, sound, smell...the works) Artie suggests they drink more...in school... and then practice a number for Principal Figgins' alcohol awareness assembly. They go with Jamie Foxx and T-Pain's undeniably catchy, but in no way appropriate, "Blame It."
When Mr. Schue tells them the song glorifies booze, Mercedes complains that there are no songs that convey alcohol is bad. I really must beg to differ on this. How about Pink's "Sober" or Pearl Jam's haunting cover of "Last Kiss" or Simple Plan's moving "(Untitled) How Could This Happen to Me?" for that matter? Any number of these could have served as a musical reminder to the dangers of drinking.
Not heeding Mr. Schue's advice, New Directions later performs Ke$ha's homage to being tipsy, "Tik Tok" while they actually are tipsy. Their classmates and teachers cheer them on (why would Figgins and Mr. Schue be okay with this song choice after a slide show about grisly car crashes, I wonder?) but are soon put into a stunned silence when a few of the glee club members barf on another during the number.
But that's where the troubles begin and end for them. Rather than get suspended, New Directions are rewarded for the number (apparently Figgins thought the on-stage vomit was a stunt). I'd like to believe that high school students would be "scared straight" by watching a classmate upchuck, but I don't know if that's what would do the trick. Even Mr. Schue lets them off the hook and simply asks them to stop drinking until after nationals.
Still, Mr. Schue had his own problems with the bottle in last night's episode. In addition to dealing with the doldrums over his life (his divorce, Emma's marriage, etc.), Will hits the bottle (and the mic to sing George Thorogood's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer") with his pal Beiste to forget about his troubles. Instead, he grades papers drunk (A+ for everyone!) and drunk dials who he thinks is Emma, to profess his still unwavering love.
Of course, the eternally tortured Will, now with blurred vision calls Sue instead. Having already suggested to Will that as a future alcoholic he join AA early (really not something to joke about, IMHO), Sue then publicly humiliates Will by playing the message intended for Emma over the loud speaker. While Will must deal with the downside of a drunken night, Sue exploits a man down on his luck, all while doing a very fireable offense.
Sue wasn't the only one in the wrong last night. Kurt shows an unflattering side of himself when he judges Blaine for questioning his sexuality after his drunken smooch with Rachel (who attempts to start a relationship with him, to no avail.) When he cries to Blaine that he doesn't like this turn of events, Blaine fires back that that very ignorance about personal choices is what pushed Kurt out of McKinley. It isn't even that Kurt wants to be a support system so much for the wise-beyond-his-years Blaine, in that he doesn't want to lose his idol or his crush.
Even more unsettling is Kurt's overreaction to his reasonable dad Burt. When Mr. Hummel finds Blaine in Kurt's bed in the night following their party, he requests to his son that he not have boys sleep in his bed. When Kurt cries that it's because he's gay, Burt reassures him he would have the same rules for Finn and girls. But, it's not enough for the stubborn Kurt who sees it as another slight against his sexuality, when it was really just a parent being a parent.
In case you couldn't tell Gleeks, this episode left something of a sour taste in my mouth. While Ryan Murphy always combines humor with serious life lessons, it seems there were none to be found here. Besides some embarrassing moments, nobody in the ep faced any real consequences. The episode simply took the approach of "We can't stop them from drinking, but we can make them aware," which is a very reasonable way to look at it. That is, if there's some awareness in the first place.
Watch Jim Cantiello's musical "Glee"-cap below!
What do you think, Gleeks? Did this episode feel like a wasted opportunity to do some good to you too? Was Kurt out of line with his dad and Blaine? Will Rachel write a good original song now? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!