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Glee S02E07: Cooooool Substitute

[Gabe Liedman is a stand-up comedian, and one half of the Gabe and Jenny comedy team with Jenny Slate. But at the top of that resume it states that he is Videogum’s Official Expert on this season of Glee.]

[Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Videogum.]

Surprisegum of the century: I have a different opinion about Gwyneth Paltrow than Hard Gabe and most of the intelligent world. You may think she’s a self-obsessed, out-of-touch, no-talent, over-credited brat; I think she’s FAHNCY, beautiful, great at her job, and Sliding Doors. For me, one of the best kinds of cred to have is late ‘90’s cred, and Gwyneth uses that shit to condition her hair and scent her self-help emails. Duh, I don’t subscribe to GOOP, I don’t listen to Coldplay, I don’t care what her kids are named; but you KNOW I’m seeing Country Strong the second it comes out (go to bed Crazy <3), and in the meantime, if she’s going to come to me and jump around on Glee with the other assholes I stare at, then she’s more than welcome. In fact, after this week’s Gleeformance, I fucking hope she comes back at some point. Yeah, I said it. If she wants to “help” people “choose” chic trenchcoats and unaffordable wines and excrutiatingly long and effective workout regimens in the meantime, then she’s welcome to do that, too. I Tweet about what I eat and see and do all the time, and no one’s ever given me a prize for doing ANYTHING. Minus the resources and confidence, we’re all GOOP, in a way, non? Non. But Glee was pretty good last night, right guyz?! It got PRETTY FUCKING RACIST and actually-offensive in other ways, which is uncool times a million. If last week’s episode was a return to plotline and a unique spin on teenagerdom, then this week was a return to snappy dialogue, nasty jokes, and Glee being a marvelous piece-of-shit fireworks display worth watching every second of (with weed, wine, takeout, or whatever else you love that’s killing you).

And what to say about Gwyneth’s voice? I like it? I mean—it’s not as special or vibrant or cool or … anything … as the pop stars she’s covering. Or the rest of the cast. Or Renee Zellweger. But, for me it’s fine—it’s good even. I don’t know why, I can’t defend it. Sliding Doors again? Se7en? Fucking The Royal Tenenbaums?! Or The Talented Mr. Ripley? Or the flashback parts of Hook? Yeah, actually, that one might be it. Ugh, who knows—so many things brainwash me.

Episode! Principal Figgins is home sick with Monkey Flu, which Sue gave to him on purpose by making an overweight student sneeze on him. While he’s gone, SHE’S THE PRINCIPAL, and Will’s enemy again (?), and then Will gets the flu too from the same sneezing student. As the flu penetrates his Garnier Fructis helmet of protection and begins crawling into his douche snarl of expressiveness, he begins to hallucinate that all the Gleetards are baby versions of themselves: yaaaaaaaaaaay.

Schue goes home to lay around in his flu-filth; his ex-wife Terri the YouKnowWhat comes over to nurse him back to health using very gross baby-roleplay sex-talk and light butt play (a rectal thermometer with half a pound of Vaseline (like he’ll even FEEL that, hunny)).

In a very funny 2-second scene, Rachel declares herself in charge of Glee Club, and Santana needs to be restrained from beating her to death. Then we cut to the lunchroom, where we learn that Mercedes is jealous of how much time Kurt is spending with Blaine these days, and we also learn that she loves TaterTots as much as one of the Gwyneth Paltrows loved getting to know herself and feeling free from the shackles of a cheating lover in Sliding Doors. ZOMG do you guys think Jeanne Tripplehorn will ever be on Glee?! “SHE is LYDIA.” Remember that line?! LOLOLOL. RIGHT, but Mercedes fucking loves TaterTots, they’re very important to her. Doyoyoy.

Then we meet Gwyneth Paltrow, who is playing Holly Holliday (two L’s in both? thanks IMDB), a whacky substitute teacher who’s taken over Schue’s Spanish class, and is super coooooool because she’s speaking in Spanish to the kids about Lindsay Lohan being back in rehab. OY. She’s also a cooooool substitute teacher because last week Kurt had her for English and she sang “Conjunction Junction” from Schoolhouse Rock in the middle of class. No one’s put that clip online, so here’s the original (Gwyneth sang it well):

Kurt asks her to take over Glee while Schue’s at home sitting on bigger and bigger thermometers. She’s into it, but when she shows up for Gleehearsal, the rest of the non-Kurt Gleetards are ready to prank her to death: they butter the floor so she’ll fall over and break her expensive head off, and when that doesn’t work (everyone falls but her, she glides like Nancy Kerrigan to the bank), they introduce themselves with the wrong names—Brittany the Perfect introduces herself as Mike Chang, LOLz, and that doesn’t work either. Then Gwyneth proves once again to be a coooooool substitute teacher because she says she wants to smoke weed and go to Taco Bell (these kids DO NOT smoke weed); then she does the cooooolest thing, which Schue never did, which is ask them what they want to sing. They want to sing “Fuck You” RADIO EDIT by Cee-Lo, so she sings it for them:

Gwyneth Paltrow is not Cee-Lo, and when I read in April of 2002 that she was going to sing this song on TV, I convulsed with preparatory second-hand embarrassment. Even when the clip leaked online of her actually doing it in February 2006, I was like: oh, no, yiiiikes. But, somehow, embedded in a scene with really funny dialogue which Gwyneth handles with skill of a Hollywood A-lister (did everyone just turn their computers off?), I have to say I totally liked it. I mean, she was trying to be good, but also acknowledging that it was totally goofy, and it was really fun to watch. Yikes, the end. All the Gleetards fucking loved it, except for Rachel who h8’d it, duh.

Principal Sue interrupts Coach Biete’s football meeting to tell her she’s disbanding the football team. Then Bieste is like “then who are your Cheerios going to cheer for?” and Sue is all embarrassed and enraged. She decides she needs a “cause,” at which point she looks down the hallway and sees a couple obese students, so she vows once and for all to remove fatty garbage like TaterTots from the cafeteria.

Schue’s at home Robo-Tripping and hallucinates that he goes to school and hangs out privately with Mike Chang (SO HOT), and that while they’re hanging out, they Gleeform “Make ‘Em Laugh” from Singin’ in the Rain (NOT HOT, FREEZING COLD). This number was full of old-fashioned dance comedy—the kind of high-class clownery that might have been cool in Paris 100 years ago but now is very “shut the fuck up.” You know? Basically: just another bone thrown to the Broadway Superstars in waiting (waiting in Voorhees, NJ, in the basement, who don’t notice they just dropped a huge wad of guac on their pajama bottoms).

Rachel wakes Schue up from his fantasy-date to tattle on Gwyneth and Kurt’s fun-making, and to alert Schue to the fact that Principal Sue can replace him with Gwyneth if she so decides. Meanwhile, Gwyneth and Sue are becoming fast friends—we see them highlighting their hair together, getting drunk, and watching Animal Hoarders on TV. Lolz.

Kurt cancels his plans with Mercedes again because he and Blaine are going to see Rent, and then all the Cheerios show up in the lunchroom and confiscate all the TaterTots. This is all too much for Mercedes, but instead of screaming an amazing fucking song about it, she stomps over to Principal Sue’s office and is like “WTF?!” Sue’s like “you’re unhealthy” (she’s bullied Mercedes about her weight before) and holds up a stalk of broccoli and is like “what is this?” and Mercedes thinks it’s a toilet brush. Wow.

Then there was a commercial for the new season of American Idol with all these past winners describing the show as … like … a charity? And then—was this just regional, or did everyone see the Lanvin for H&M ad with the insane models in the creepy haunted hotel? I can’t find the exact version I saw online that bragged that every dress was a measly 200 bucks, but here’s the gist:

I thought to myself: this ad is a lot like this Gwyneth Paltrow, and I bet people’s opinion about it will split along the same kind of line. Duh, I enjoyed myself.

Anyjiz, back to Glee, Gwyneth decides to win Rachel’s affection, but Rachel’s not having any of Gwyneth’s cooooooolness. This throws Gwyneth for a loop and she gets deliciously honest: “Rachel, you suck.” YEP! Then she asks Rachel what would make HER happy (after saying “righteous” and high-fiving Puck LOLOLOLOLZZZZ), and Rachel says all she wants to do is sing something upbeat, “glamorous,” with a dance beat. May I suggest:

No I may not. Then Rachel asks Gwyneth to duet with her, and Gwyneth says “thought you’d never ask,” and then says “that’s kind of my catchphrase.” LOLOLOL, awesome catchphrase.

Back at Maison du Schue, Terri the YouKnowWhat tells Schue that’s she’s on brain medicine, so Schue starts baby-roleplay sex-talking with her in earnest. Ugh, Jesus, I KNOW. Then Terri gives him a topless Vicks Vapo massage and they end up French kissing the Flu back and forth and back and forth, and then maybe they fuck?

Kurt is worried about Mercedes, so he sets her up on a date with a smokin’ hot football player, but Mercedes is offended because Kurt chose one of the only five black people at McKinley for her, and all his afterschool activities are “black.” Then she makes a protest sign that says “Tots” and starts a fucking riot in the lunchroom.

Then it’s time for Gwyneth and Rachel’s upbeat, glamorous, dance number, which turns out to be “Nowadays,” “Hot Honey Rag,” and a line of “All That Jazz” from Chicago staged identically to the Renee Zellweger movie version. Ssssnnnooooorrrrreeee:

Rachel WOULD find that glamorous.

Schue comes to school so that he doesn’t lose his job, but Sue’s not having that shit. She fires him on the spot, and also (thank the lord) rails on his hairdon’t, likening it to a tiny full-length shearling coat.

Then Mercedes is out on a friend date with Kurt and Blaine, jonesing HARD for TaterTots. The boys chat about gay politics, DUH, and Mercedes starts passing out and hears Kurt and Blaine just say “gay, gay, gay, gay” over and over, and then a tiny pink purse falls out of Kurt’s mouth. WOAH. What?! Wait, what?! WOAH. Uh… what? Then Mercedes finally gets an order of TaterTots and comes back to life, but I’m like “wait, what?!” still.

Schue’s pissed about getting fired (duh) and tries to talk to Gwyneth about it; but, she gives him a long sanctimonious speech about how she’s a better teacher than him because of social networking technology. Someone’s grandmother wrote a really hip chunk of dialogue! Then Gwyneth has to go to Principal Sue’s office because Mercedes is in major trouble for stuffing TaterTots up the tailpipe of Sue’s Le Car. Sue and her attourney, Gloria Allred (LOLOL) are pissed. CHECK OUT THIS COMMERCIAL FOR LE CAR!

Gwyneth comes crying to Schue’s house because she’s a terrible teacher and couldn’t handle herself in a meeting with Principal Sue. Gwyneth shares with Schue a NIGHTMARISHLY racist-feeling flashback to explain why she wants to be so cooooool as a substitute teacher: one time she was teaching a classroom with a black student in it (OH NO!) and the girl, named Cameo, beats the shit out of her for knowing “math tricks” which is anti-Christian devil shit. Then she steals her Air Jordans while she’s passed out? WHAT?! WHAT THE FUCK?! WWWWHHHAAAAATTTT.

Terri the YouKnowWhat pops by SexBaby’s house with a vibrating rattle, only to find Schue conducting a Klan meeting with Shakespeare in Love. Terri the YouKnowWhat is infuriated that they would do evil shit without her (she’s the best at it!), but Schue tells her that what they did last night was a big mistake and that she should never come back again. BURN.

Kurt tells Mercedes that she’s substituting food for <3, and him for a boyfriend. Harshness. Then he goes on and on about how gr8 Blaine is, so DUH, Blaine’s never going to be his boyfriend NOW, great. Mercedes decides she’ll go out on a date with the smoking hot football player after all (even if he IS black…). Then FOOTBALLBUYLL #3, who’d bullied Kurt earlier in the episode, walks by and threatens TO KILL KURT if he tells anyone about their big scary kiss. WOW WHAT THE FUCK GLEE?! Typing this all out I’m thinking that this, and the racism, and the obesity messaging, are so fucking INTENSE in this episode! More intense than it seemed like when I was watching it, and maybe more intense than it seemed like when they wrote and shot it, but how many fucking brain-minutes were poured into this thing by how many well-paid TV adults?! And this all flew?! As only seems fair, or something, here’s the “It Gets Better” video by Max Adler, the actor who plays FOOTBALLBULLY #3:

I’m scared to pick a video from YouTube that “counteracts” racism and fat-hatred, so I won’t!

Sue rehires Schue because she hates Gwyneth Paltrow now and his kids all want him back for some reason. Then Sue rants about how rehiring Schue makes the underside of her breast-flaps burn, refers to the students as inmates, tells Schue to “shut [his] gash, Nancy,” and post an M4M ad on Craigslist for men looking for men with butt chins. YAAAAAAAAY.

Schue’s back in Gleehearsal now, and he fucking h8z it that his kids miss Gwyneth Paltrow at all. Luckily, she’s subbing in some History class, being a coooooool Mary Todd Lincoln; so, Schue asks her to help him convince the Gleetards to scream his favorite song “Singin’ in the Rain” at Sectionalz. She says her “catchphrase” and then the two duet a mash-up of “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Umbrella” by Rihanna, with all the Gleetards doing their best as back-up dancers on a flooded stage. This number was pretty terrible, like the rest of them on this episode I guess? Eh, kill me, I liked the Cee-Lo one after all. But, like, come on—setting this up as a Sectionalz thing when the only people who are singing are Schue and Gwyneth Paltrow? I’d hope the Sectionalz Jury or whatever would throw Schue in jail for that, it makes no sense. And, everyone knows, I literally don’t give a shit if shit makes sense, and that even seemed weird to me. Enjoy:

Next week is wedding week on Glee, where Sue’s going to marry herself and the guest star is Carol Burnett, playing her Nazi-hunter mom? How do you spell “YES!!!!!!” again?