Season one’s “Bad Reputation” finds the characters on FOX’s Glee either wanting to attract or shed their bad reputations. Sue’s (Jane Lynch) mojo is hit hard when Kurt (Chris Colfer) steals and uploads a self-made music video of her singing “Physical,” which quickly goes viral. To get even, when no kids steps forward to take the blame, Sue tells Emma (Jayma Mays) about Will’s (Matthew Morrison) trysts with Shelby (Idina Menzel) and April (Kristin Chenoweth), and encourages her to stage a public confrontation. Rachel (Lea Michele) is so desperate to get some cred that she drives away all three of the guys that care about her in the process.
This episode of Glee perpetuates the “high school never ends” theory, as the adults act just as catty as the kids when insulting each other. Between Sue, Emma, Will, Ken (Patrick Gallagher), Figgins (Iqbal Theba), and new teacher Brenda Castle (Molly Shannon, Saturday Night Live, Kath & Kim), they snip at each other in a way that normally only children do. It makes them look downright foolish. Perhaps their behavior can be blamed on being around actual teenagers all day, but it’s not becoming on a single one of them.
Will really is kind of a man slut, though, and Emma has every right to be angry at him. While he is still one of the main characters of the series, and thus beloved, his behavior hasn’t exactly been loyal to the girl he says he cares about. As such, it’s nice to see him called out on his bad behavior, even if done in a juvenile way.
That Rachel, Kurt, Mercedes (Amber Riley), Artie (Kevin McHale), and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) all seek to destroy their own good image, is a crying shame. Realistic for someone their age, yes, but regrettably so. Sure, by the end of the episode Rachel learns her lesson. Sort of. But the others don’t, as they continually fail in their schemes to look bad. What kind of example is this to set for the kids that tune into Glee? Example setting aside, it’s frustrating to watch. A “Bad Reputation” is not something one should seek out. The only place it serves any positive purpose is in high school, but many adults eventually regret those past mistakes. You get more flies with honey than vinegar, every time. I guess in that metaphor, attracting flies is a good thing.
Everyone struggles with who they are in high school. Quinn (Dianna Agron) is exposed as the maker of the dreadful “glist” without being hated for it, by Will and viewers, because it allows her to show a really vulnerable part of herself. Similarly, Puck (Mark Salling) complains about how people think he’s behind anything bad that happens, even though he’s got lines that he doesn’t cross. As such, while sometimes it is hard to like these characters, a little insight makes them much more sympathetic.
I guess Glee‘s attempt to teach a lesson comes when Sue, the victim for once, gets good fortune, instead of bad. Olivia Newton John (herself) is so impressed with Sue’s homemade video that she asks Sue to help her re-shoot a new version of “Physical.” This brings Sue much positive attention and fame, turning around an embarrassing situation. While most times fans will root for Sue to fail, this time only, she deserves a little success. As the popular saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right, and what Kurt and his friends do to Sue is not right.
It’s worth wondering if the “Physical” video isn’t a direct result of the heaps of positive attention piled on Sue’s previous video effort, “Vogue,” in “The Power of Madonna.” This second one is not nearly as fresh and entertaining, at least to a straight man. But it feels very much in the same vein. Obviously, “Physical” did not attract as much internet attention as “Vogue,” and the two are not followed up by more Sue videos in the near future. A shame, as the first one is really something special.