Based on my Twitter and Facebook feeds last night, people are rather divided on the Glee Christmas episode. Some people (like me) loved the Christmas special homage but didn’t care for the rest. Others hated the Christmas special, but liked the aspects that were more traditionally Glee. Many didn’t like it at all.
Personally, I found the Christmas special the kids filmed for the Lima, Ohio PBS affiliate to be absolutely delightful – it had that campy, wink-wink-nudge-nudge, in-on-the-joke feel that is what Glee used to do best. I loved shout-outs to favorite Christmas specials, the old-school vibe mixed with modern ideas (like the fact that Kurt and Blaine were hosting), the musical performances and all. It was FUN.
The show lost me elsewhere, mostly with two things. Rachel’s obsession with Christmas was bizarre since she’s Jewish, and her super materialistic views felt out of character even for her. And, although I think I know what Glee was shooting for with that final scene, singing to homeless people about how they should feed the starving people of Africa was a giant swing and a miss. Think about it. You’re singing lyrics like “Well tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you” and “Feed the world” to people who are AT A SOUP KITCHEN. Because they are also poor. They are also starving. Sheesh.
That meant the episode ended up, for me, being a weird mix of “Oh my god, this is awful” and “Hey, I’m kinda digging this.” It was like two different shows mashed up into one – and we all know how much Glee loves mash-ups.
All I Want For Christmas Are Tunes
What I probably liked best about this episode was how much singing it featured. Christmas specials are Glee‘s best friend, because it allows the show to pretty much drop all plots for a week and just have some good old fashioned festive fun. The opening scene with Mercedes belting out “All I Want For Christmas Is You” while everyone decorated the choir room was exactly, 100% what I had tuned in to see.
Then things started to go off the rails a bit. Rachel nattered on and on about her incredibly selfish Christmas list without even mentioning Hanukkah. Rory serenaded the rest of New Directions with “Blue Christmas” and told them that his family couldn’t afford to come visit him for the holidays, and instead of being all like “Oh no Rory, that’s so sad, let’s all argue over whose house you should spend Christmas at” they were all like “What a depressing song, Rory, who cares if you’re homesick? Let’s focus on how happy WE are.”
Thank god for Sam, who stopped Rory in the hall and offered to have him spend Christmas with his family and show him what the holidays are like in America. For Sam, that meant devoting a lot of time to charity.
Since Sue’s character is about as inconsistent as, well, Glee as a whole, and so this week she was in Altruistic Sue mode. You know, the one who is nice to disabled people, not the one who is, well, cruel to disabled people. She’d arranged for the glee kids to come sing at the homeless shelter where she was serving food, but when it conflicted with the taping of their Christmas special they backed out. Moral high ground lesson alert! I wonder if Ryan Murphy decorated his soap box with tinsel for this episode?
A Few of My Favorite Songs
The Christmas special itself was, as I said before, delightful. I tremendously enjoyed it – how can you not like Kurt and Blaine singing a holiday duet and indulging in a little soft shoe? The jokes about the nature of their relationship were clever and tongue in cheek.
When Mercedes and Rachel showed up, the fun continued. Rachel Berry was in full Barbra Streisand mode, as you know she would be if on television. The little “Hello” she threw in, in her natural voice, when they said she was on TV was pitch perfect. Even though I thought Artie’s obsession with the Star Wars Christmas special was lame, I did laugh when Finn and Puck showed up dressed like Star Wars characters and they made a little copyrighting joke.
Feed The World, Let Them Know Its Christmastime
Moral lesson time! Rory showed up dressed as an elf to recite “Frosty The Snowman”, but instead he did a bit from A Charlie Brown Christmas. He reminded everyone of the true sentiment of the holidays and they bailed on the special to go help out at the soup kitchen, where Sam and Quinn already were. (This was to show us that Sam, having once been homeless, is now an inherently good person and that Quinn has now quickly and officially turned around her life.) Everyone sang an awkward song, and Rachel learned an important lesson.
Rachel had sneered at Finn’s Christmas gift of a pig to give poor people in Africa, but had a change of heart once everyone sang to homeless people. But Finn knew it wasn’t enough, so he also bought her a star – named Finn Hudson. “Because there’s already a star named Rachel Berry.” I didn’t quite catch what he said after that because I was too busy throwing up. He also gave her earrings, because charity and a star are known to be the two worst gifts ever, and also because Rachel basically demanded them. But since they’d all learned an important lesson, they returned the earrings and the iPod Rachel had gotten Finn and donated the cash to the Salvation Army. Not a particularly Glee-friendly charity.
As Rachel and Finn joined Sam and Rory in ringing the Salvation Army bells, I heard Rachel shout out a “Happy Hanukkah!” I fully believe that the Glee writers actually forgot Rachel is Jewish, and that was simply Lea Michele going rogue. Good for her.
Despite a few missteps, I thought there was a lot to love about this Christmas special. Let’s talk about the songs for a moment, and I’ll list my favorite quotes below.
“All I Want For Christmas Is You” – It’s hard to out-Mariah Mariah, but I thought Mercedes did a great job here and it set the right tone for the rest of the show.
“Blue Christmas” – I think this was the best display of Damian McGuinty’s talent we’ve seen so far, but the performance still lacked the charisma I’d hoped to see.
“Wish I Had A River” – I bought the second Glee Christmas album on iTunes as soon as it was available, so I already knew I loved Rachel’s rendition of this song, which is one of my favorites – I’m with Sam, there’s a place for melancholy in the holiday season.
“Let It Snow” – This song isn’t one of my favorites on the soundtrack, but Kurt and Blaine’s dancing and the rat pack vibe made it my favorite from the episode.
“Favorite Things” – I feel like some people might have really disliked this since it’s not a super traditional Christmas song, but I thought it was classic and beautiful.
“Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” – Not my favorite (and the outfits were distracting) but I do love me some Puck.
“Christmas Wrapping” – This song was all about what was going on visually, which was a lot of fun.
“Let Them Know Its Christmastime” – My problems here weren’t with the actual musical performance – like I said, it was just an incredibly awkward choice of song.
- Sue’s forgiving New Directions for “having no talent and ruining the American songbook one mash-up at a time.”
- Sue referring to Artie, Kurt and Blaine as “Wheels, Porcelain, Other Gay” and later “Stumbles, Gelfing, and Young Burt Reynolds.”
- “Christmas isn’t just a time when Jewish kids get slightly uncomfortable and dwarves get jobs as Santas helpers in demeaning non-union commercials that make them quietly die inside.” – Sue
- “Holy crap, I’m dating Kim Kardashian.” – Finn
- “The homeless will be homeless for a while. That’s sort of the problem, isn’t it?” – Santana, suggesting to Sue that they can sing at the homeless shelter on a different night
- Kurt: “This is my, um, best friend and holiday roommate, Blaine Anderson.”
Blaine: “Welcome into our bachelor chalet.”
- TWO Charlie Brown Christmas references! Rachel quoting my favorite line, “All I want is what’s coming to me. All I want is my fair share,” and Rory saying “Lights please,” before doing the whole Linus speech. Love.
- “Would it be weird if I fixed myself a plate?” – Puck, at the homeless shelter
What did you guys think?