Glee recap: CLAP On, CLAP Off

Glee talks about sex, baby; it's not very sexy. Artie deals with an STD. Blaine and Kurt deal with intimacy issues, and Sam and Mercedes deal with no sex at all.
Ep. 16 | Aired Apr 15, 2014

Cronuts, chlamydia, porn — ah, yes, the gang’s all here! Where might all of those things come together in one weird little package? You know where. Here’s what you missed on…Glee!

This episode of Glee may have just been the least sexy Very Special Sex Episode of any show ever. There was no sexy “first time” montage à la “Like A Virgin,” no giving-it-up-for-your-art like in McKinley’s production of West Side Story. No, this episode was about the other side of sex…the chlamydia side of sex. And, also, the porn side, and the jealousy side, and the abstinence side. These kids, ahem, young adults are growing up and so are their problems and relationships. Now, sex isn’t just doing it or not doing it, committed to your West Side Story character or not committed to your West Side Story character (says Artie); it’s “intimacy issues,” it’s relationship-defining, it has consequences. And if you’re Artie and having lots of random, no-condom sex, those consequences are chlamydia. So much chlamydia.

It’s still a little odd to settle into this new Glee, that’s kind of like Original Recipe Glee, but also entirely different than anything the show has done before. It’s calmer, more pleasant, less absurd; the stakes are higher, the laugh count is lower, the songs are more mature. One brand spankin’ new addition seems to be little vignettes that are tied to the story, but not at all a part of the plot, as in, no need to contrive a hallucinogenic dentist's visit. Tonight we’re given an odd little wartime film featuring the gentlemen of Glee – Sam, Blaine, Artie and Kurt: a handsome idiot, a debonair homosexual, a hapless invalid and a strapping male soprano, respectively. The message of the vintage black and white PSA opener is pretty clear: “Get tested for S.T.D. or America will end up R.I.P.” Straight up.

Writing this now, I can hardly recall it, but Blaine began this episode flitting around New York, talking about how much he loved the city's culinary offerings in voiceover. My, how things spiraled. One second he’s getting all the no-line-queuing-necessary Cronuts he can stuff in his slightly softer than normal cheeks, and the next, his pants won’t button and he’s glaring at Kurt being admired by other men in their shared Stage Combat class while stuffing cheese curls in his face like that gross kid you went to camp with.

While Blaine has been gaining the Freshman 15, Kurt has been packing on a healthy lifestyle and Blaine suddenly realizes his fiancé is the new hotshot in town. Let’s just say, he does not handle it gracefully. He gives an extended narrated bit that’s supposed to imply that he understands why everyone wants to jump Kurt’s bones now, but mostly ends up sounding condescending regarding Kurt’s newfound popularity. (“Kind Of Condescending” could be Blaine’s next superhero name…and you better believe there will be a next superhero.) He of the Cheese Powered Mustache says he’s not comfortable with people seeing his fiancé as a sexual object, but what he really means is that he’s jealous of the sexual object his fiancé has become.

Speaking of sexual objectification, Artie is rolling around his film school halls like he’s God’s gift to sweater vests, and, well, he kind of is according to many of his fellow students who find his particular brand of wheelchair nerd, pleated khaki and Ohio charm sexy. It quickly becomes clear why Artie was never popular at McKinley: because popularity turns Artie into someone who says things like, “I’m the Pied Piper of coed trim” and brags about his many trips to bed with Vanessa the French New Wave girl and Jess the Cronenberg fanatic.

Unfortunately, his new talent roster doesn’t leave much room for the girl he actually likes, Julie, who’s narrating his student film, “Bags in the Wind.” She makes lines like, “When a plastic bag gets caught in the wind, does it feel sadness or hope?” slightly provoking, so he better hold on to her. Artie says his newfound confidence as a film school playboy has made asking out Julie a cinch. (He somehow didn’t get any boost from dating a bevy of McKinley’s finest Cheerios…speaking of, RIP Kitty, I guess). It also inspires a rousing performance “Addicted to Love” with Vanessa, Jess and Julie playing his band and backup singers. I love a good Artie solo, and he sounded great here, but I wish the girls had actually been singing backup instead of just pretending to—the repetitive lyrics could have used some female accompaniment to keep things interesting. B

NEXT: Hold the phone. Am I...enjoying...Samcedes?

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