Watching Glee Until It Gets Bad S1E21: Funk

by thethreepennyguignol

I almost forgot about this one.

In all the excitement of the show actually being pretty good, Funk all but slipped my mind. The second-last episode of the season, it doesn’t feel as much like a piece of the story pie as much as it does a rushed attempt to remind us of all the big plot points we’re dealing with going in to the finale (and the show’s second season), and, honestly, it’s…not great.

For a hot minute there, I actually thought this might be the episode – the episode just bad enough to tip me over the edge into admitting that I had, indeed, Watched Glee Until It Got Bad. But, in truth, I don’t even think Funk is dreadful – it’s just really, really freaking average.

If there’s one saving grace to this episode, it’s the bringing together of Will and Sue, one of my favourite pairings of the whole show and probably of the whole dramedy genre as a whole – they bring out the very best in each other, or, should I say, the utter worst, especially in Will’s case. I love it when Glee really lets Matthew Morrison bring out the asshole (uh, not like that that) in Will, and, with Sue as monstrous as she is, it feels almost justified. Jane Lynch is basically the saving grace of this show even when it’s struggling to find it’s feet, and watching her confusion, arousal, humiliation, and desire (the cornerstones of any great romance) in the face of Will’s attempts to romance her are undeniably hilarious. I swear, without Jane Lynch, this first season would have failed long before this episode. The deranged energy she brings to the show and brings out in goody-two-shoes Will is so enormously fun, even in an episode as humdrum as this one.

Most of the rest of this episode is made up of mediocre performances and set-up for potentially interesting plots down the line: the Funk prompt should have made for some really interesting numbers, in the way a lot of the other theme episodes of this season have, but instead, most of them feel pretty listless: I love Dianna Agron, but her It’s A Man’s World doesn’t have the teeth it needs (though the staging is lovely) and the less said about the Good Vibrations cover, the fucking better (no, wait, I’ve got one more: Bad Vibrations, more like! Okay, I’m done). Give Up The Funk, as the big finale, is alright, but again, it just doesn’t have the defiance or attitude it really needs to work in this part of the plot. The only one I really like this week is, predictably, Vocal Adrenalin’s Another One Bites The Dust, which is crisp, clean, and just really, really fun to watch.

I don’t necessarily dislike the drama this episode, it’s just that the majority of it feels as though it’s there to set up future plotlines that’ll be more interesting in fruition than they will be in seeding: Jessalyn Gilsig returns and bonds with Finn, in a plot that genuinely feels like it has a lot of potential, even if I don’t think that’s ever totally capitalized on. It makes sense that she would feel a connection to Finn, given that he’s got more than a passing similarity to Will when Terri fell for him – it’s bordering on a little creepy, but played right, it’s got the potential to have that melancholy missed-opportunity sweetness to it that Glee does so well.

The Jesse and Rachel stuff leaves me pretty cold, even though it pays off big time in the next episode – it’s worth having to sit through Johnathan Groff’s frowny emoji face, knowing what’s going to come next. I generally actually quite like Jesse and Rachel together, if only because they’re drama queens worthy of each other’s nonsense, but this just feels like such a by-the-numbers romantic rivalry plot it’s hard to get really invested. Look at the plucky little Nude Erections standing up the big bad…uh, group of singing teenagers! Sure, okay, but it’s not exactly got the kind of texture I look for in a genuinely interesting plotline, you know?

Honestly, I don’t have a huge amount to say about Funk – it’s an okay episode, and somehow, that feels more of an issue than some of the downright Quite Bad outings we’ve had this season. Glee is a show of extremes, which is one of the reasons I find it so watchable – even when it’s bad, it’s bad in a sort of compellingly terrible way, and when it’s good, it can be downright fantastic. The worst crime Glee can commit is to be average, and Funk is just that.

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(header image via YouTube)