This week’s installment of FOX’s Glee is called “The Spanish Teacher.” Figgins (Iqbal Theba) tells Will (Matthew Morrison) that he is up for tenure, but that he should probably learn some Spanish if he wants to be considered for the position. Will is, after all, a Spanish teacher. Enrolling in a night class taught by David Martinez (singer Ricky Martin), Will realizes just how little he knows, but tries to correct that by bringing a Latino flair to glee club, as well as his normal teaching duties. In the end, remembering what passion is all about, Will opts for a transfer to the history department, leaving his old job open for David. Emma (Jayma Mays), who is already comfortable in her position, is chosen for the tenured position over Will.
While Glee has never shied away from camp, exposing Will as a fraud of a Spanish teacher crosses the line. Will says that Spanish was the only teaching position open at the time he was seeking employment, so he took the subject. And that was how many teachers settled into their jobs decades ago. However, such hiring practices have not been realistic in Ohio, or almost any other state, in quite some time. There is no way that Will would be hired to teach a foreign language without majoring in it in college and passing tests. The educational process in Ohio is pretty strict, and he could not teach a subject he knows nothing about. As such, the entire thing is completely ridiculous.
And that’s not even getting into the outdated system of tenure shown in this episode.
Does McKinley not have a choir director position? It is understood that glee club is an extracurricular, but most high schools of any size have a teacher devoted just to vocal music. McKinley certainly qualifies as such. If there is a teacher already holding that position, why haven’t they been seen on the show before? It would make sense, given the musical focus. And if there is not, why aren’t Will and the club lobbying for a levy to pass to restore their music program to normal, basic standards? Certainly this is something that they could get people in the community behind.
Those involved in the educational system have plenty of reason to be offended by “The Spanish Teacher,” but those of Latin descent may have even more beef. Will and the guys massacre “La Cucaracha” in a silly performance. Later, Will’s “A Little Less Conversation,” an Elvis number by the way, is not any better. Both have mediocre vocals and unacceptable costumes. Adding bulls into the dance in the latter song is terrible.
But “The Spanish Teacher” does have a handful of redeeming qualities. For one, Santana (Naya Rivera) is as angry at the racism and the injustice as any viewer, and she shows it. She puts Will in his place, and tells him just how wrong what he’s doing is. In this, she serves as the voice of the audience. Thank goodness Glee chooses to include this position.
Also, most of the Latin music is actually quite good, owing mainly to the fact that Rivera and Martin perform it. Their “La Isla Bonita” is exciting, and Martin’s “Sexy and I Know It” lives up to its title. By showing an alternative to the bad performances, Glee somewhat salvages the plot, even though it can’t save the character of Will this week.
Martin does pretty well in his acting gig. There really is nothing to complain about in his character of David, nor the way he plays the role. While it is regrettable that David did not sing any Ricky Martin songs in “The Spanish Teacher,” perhaps this can be corrected in a future appearance. And if David starts dating Holly Holiday (Gwyneth Paltrow), it could be a perfect match up!
Other plots in “The Spanish Teacher” come out better than the A story. Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Sam (Chord Overstreet) go to Emma for advice, and after giving them some very funny pamphlets, Emma advises them not to talk to each other for a week. They sort of break this rule when Mercedes sings “Don’t Wanna Lose You,” and Sam comes back with “Bamboleo / Hero.” If there is anything Glee delivers as a recurring message, it’s that music can speak louder than words. But the pair does not have any actual conversation for seven days.