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TV Review: Glee – “The Rhodes Not Taken”

This summer, I’ll be going back to review the season one episodes of FOX’s Glee. These are fresh reviews, not reposts, and I hope you will enjoy reliving the first season with me.

“The Rhodes Not Taken” introduces recurring character April Rhodes (Kristin Chenoweth, The West Wing, Pushing Daisies). April was a senior when Will (Matthew Morrison) was a freshman in glee club, and he always admired her. After Rachel (Lea Michele) quits the New Directions, Will discovers April never officially graduated, and convinces her to take Rachel’s place. April jumps at the chance, having been squatting in an empty house, imbibing heavily, and presumably sleeping with many men. April has a fantastic voice, but she’s an irresponsible alcoholic, and that does not mesh well with the high school kids. Finn (Cory Monteith) sways Rachel into returning, and April heads off to try to fix her life.

Chenoweth is amazing, of course, both musically, and with comedy chops. She is the perfect actress for Glee, so it’s no wonder she’s been asked back twice more since “The Rhodes Not Taken.” I would never say a word against Chenoweth’s personal contributions to the series, or the talent she wields with such grace and charisma. Chenoweth’s presence will always be welcome, and something to look forward to, and I hope she returns to the halls of McKinley many, many more times. In fact, should Morrison ever decide to leave the series, she would make a perfect glee club director.

That being said, the character of April is far from appropriate in a school setting. In a twisted variation on Never Been Kissed, April recaptures her high school glory by giving Kurt (Chris Colfer) alcohol and showering, and likely sleeping, with the football players, including Puck (Mark Salling). Emma (Jayma Mays) comments on the bad behavior to Will, disapprovingly telling him that April’s backpack is always “clinking with empties.” If Emma notices, surely other teachers do, too, and they do not share Emma’s loyalty to Will. Glee sometimes goes down outlandish paths, but this is one of the most unrealistic. April would never get away with acting like this in high school, especially with the extra scrutiny that she surely faces, being an adult in a typical childish setting.

But the inappropriateness does not end with April. I remember being shocked that a high school would allow Will to stage a production of The Rocky Horror Show in season two. Not only is Sandy (Stephen Tobolowsky) doing Cabaret, which has at least as much adult content as Rocky Horror, but he speaks of putting on Equus, including the full nudity aspect. Even if Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba) gives his staff a very loose leash, none of this would ever happen. Figgins would likely lose his job, and so would all of the teachers that went along with the schemes. Suspending disbelief only goes so far.

“The Rhodes Not Taken,” like a handful of other episodes of Glee, is particularly sex obsessed. Besides April sleeping with students, Jacob Ben Israel (Josh Sussman) tries to trade a good review in return for seeing Rachel without her shirt on, and Finn plays on Rachel’s sexual attraction to him to get her to rejoin the New Directions. This is not a complaint. At times, Glee can actually seem a little chaste, since it follows the “good” kids at McKinley High, and has an innocent, crackerjack quality to many of its musical numbers. I applaud the inclusion of an adult topic, when kept between students, as sex truly does rule many high school minds and bodies.

Well, that, and gossip. At this point, none of the non-jocks are friends with Quinn, or very close to Finn, so it’s forgivable that they take such delight in the pregnancy scandal. Luckily Glee will soon correct that, and many students will face the realities of such an occurrence, not just scoff about it.

Unfortunately, it’s really unfair of Finn to play on Rachel’s attraction. Finn is many things, but his devious side is not one that comes out all that often, and hurts his character when it does. He was not raised to act like this, and even though it’s in service of the glee club, it’s hard to forgive Finn for hurting Rachel in this way. Rachel is willing to set aside a lot of her own interests for Finn, and if he cares about her at all, he shouldn’t ask her to, let alone trick her.

About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • frank

    Had to stop reading you said Quinn’s version of Don’t Stop sounded good, give me a break.

  • frank

    So i decided to keep reading and whoops the reviewer actually thinks Lea Michele may have a future on B-way. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. I guess the 4 musicals she already did wasn’t enough. OMG Lea Michele is a B-way vet, originator of a role in a Tony Award winning musical for god sakes.

  • what

    That is a joke about Lea Michele and her having a future on B-Way right? Please tell me it was a joke…
    Do you think Matt Morrison might have a chance?

  • Kim

    This was a good idea but they have been poorly constructed so far. The reviewer is paying to much attention to what they know from seeing season 2. Plus I have to agree Quinn’s version is so weak compared to Rachel’s and Will see that right off how this reviewer doesn’t is odd.
    And the review goes back and forth and leave out big chunks of the show.
    I have to say the reviewer was joking about Lea. There is no way he cant know she is a Broadway vet.

  • http://jeromewetzeltv.blogspot.com/ Jerome Wetzel

    I know Michele has been on Broadway, but she certainly doesn’t have the gravitas of Chenoweth, which was my point. I think it likely she will return to the stage when her television run is over.

    As for Quinn singing good, she got through about 3 lines, which sounded fine. She’s no Rachel, but we didn’t get to the challenging parts on her, so we don’t know how she would have fared.

    I apologize if you think I am focusing too much on season two. I will attempt to keep the season two insights in the random bits section from now on, and not throughout the article.

  • http://jeromewetzeltv.blogspot.com/ Jerome Wetzel

    Kim – If you’d like to give specifics about what you liked / didn’t like about the structure of the review, which big chunks I left out, etc., please do so. I will be happy to take any suggestions into consideration.