Glee! 1.15 The Power of Madonna

One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just shouldn't belong.


The white, musical Oprah. Love her or hate her (I love her) you can’t deny that she’s made her mark on culture. This is the first time Glee has done the “dedicate the entire show to an artist” type of episode, and it’s a great one. Well, the plot serves the music, but it’s Madonna. She is nothing but service to her music, so it’s fitting.

In honor of Mrs. [former] Ritchie, today’s cocktail is: Material Girl-tini. (And it’s pink, natch.)

Our free space will be to drink when a song serves as plot. So… maybe whip up a few ahead of time.


Sue writes in her journal, “Madonna. Simply saying the name makes me feel powerful.” Yes, Sue Sylvester is a Madge fan. She’s responsible for Sue’s “take-no-prisoner” attitude and her subconscious search for a woman named Susan. (This would have been amazing if Jane’s real life wife was named Susan instead of Lara.)

The Cheerios will honor Madonna by performing a song, thus securing their Nationals win. As a result, the Cheerios will all lose their last names and start dating someone younger and inferior. It’s time to start trolling the junior highs, ladies.

Quinn doodles a horrible caricature of Rachel while sitting in the music room. Rachel stands and nervously asks the girls (the only ones in the room) for some dating advice. Er, not that she’s dating anyone, especially not the dreamy Jesse St. James. But, let’s just say theoretically she was, and that someone was pressuring her for sex. Quinn tells her to shut up, she’s grossing out her baby. Rachel presses on. How can she keep this theoretical fella from getting mad when she says no?

Santana gives her excellent advice, “Just do like I do. Don’t say no.” Brittany agrees. “Totally. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? Sorry, Quinn.” Ahaha. [DRINK!]

Papa don't preach! But she's made up her mind...

They all start complaining about the boys and how they’re disrespectful to the girls. (Will walks in at this point and sits at his desk in the background.) Tina tells everyone how Artie is being a jerk and trying to force her to change her look to suit him. Will, eavesdropping [DRINK], butts in and asks if they really have this much trouble with boys, and if so, maybe they should talk to Miss Pillsbury about it?

Rachel says she tried, but Emma was so uncomfortable with the topic of sex that it was pointless. And they cut to a shot of some pamphlets, and man, did I love those:

  • Help! I’m in love with my step-dad!
  • Proper Wiping is as easy as 1-2-3
  • I still breastfeed…but how old is too old?
  • Yuk! My privates are hairy! [my favorite]

Will decides to take it upon himself to fix Emma by telling her she needs to get confident in her body (Oh, okay, then, who knew it was that easy?) and if she’ll listen to his mansplaining, he can totally help her gain that confidence. Oh, and let’s teach the girls, too. But mostly I want to fix you with my man powers. (Hey, writers? Do you see the irony in this? No? Okay, then.)

The Cheerios perform a bizarre routine to “Ray Of Light,” which is one of my faves. It’s bizarre because half the team is on stilts doing random leg raising and walking (because they’re on stilts) and it’s quite lackluster, truth be told. It’s a CHEER SQUAD, not the background performers at a circus. Sue is also not impressed and orders them to take five. (The camera cuts to them all lounging against each other posed exactly like the dancers in the “Human Nature” video, nice.)

Will has wandered in and is impressed with Sue’s decision to use Madonna. He leaves after she insults his hair, and Sue turns to the Cheerios. “You think this is hard? I’m passing a gall stone as we speak, that’s hard!”

You know what's hard? Her chesticles, that's hard!

Will tells the gang they’re going to do Madonna this week (Kurt is ecstatic, as are the girls) but the guys are not cool with it, especially Puck. Finn asks if the guys can do the man-version of Madonna, like Pantera? Which makes me laugh, and I love me some Pantera, (RIP, Dimebag.) Will tells the guys they need to learn a lesson about being sexist (ahem, Mr. Schue) and how to not be a misogynist.

Finn doesn’t even know what that word means, and Brittany tells him, “When I pulled my hamstring I went to a misogynist.” Ahaha. [DRINK!]

And I would like to draw attention to any fanfic writers that may be reading this. Kurt is wearing a hoodie. By choice. True, it’s a Galliano hoodie, but still. He likes “street wear” as long as it’s chic. Kurt also wants to do a multi-media project for the assignment with Mercedes.

Puck still maintains that this isn’t cool and it’s because Madonna isn’t exactly Show Choir material. Oh, is that so? Miss Rachel Berry has something to say about it, and it goes a little something like this, HIT IT! The girls all knock out “Express Yourself” in the complete wardrobes from the video and it’s great. Mercedes, Brittany and Santana do the best job of doing the exact dance, and Kurt sits in the seats fist pumping along with them. Ha! The guys are still not that into it.

Santana and Brittany primp at their lockers between class, Brittany has black lace in her hair a la “Like A Virgin” Madonna, and tells Santana about this new boy that is so hot. “He plays with my sister. He’s 7.” HA! Also, ew. And [DRINK!] Santana is mad because she hasn’t found anyone younger and/or inferior to date to appease Coach Sue. Wait, she should try again with Finn, because he needs to lose his V card.

She wanders over to Finnocence and makes the offer, but Finn still pines for Rachel. Well, that ship sailed, buddy boy, because she’s totally into Jesse St. James. Even though she lied and said she wasn’t seeing him. So… call her.

Finn confronts Rachel, who lies, and he calls her on that. OK, so she’s seeing Jesse, but Finn needs to be her friend about this! She would never do anything that would hurt the gang, and she has something magical happening. They put that aside and work on a mash-up of “Borderline” (oh my god, how I loved that video, when she spray painted the guy’s car?!) with “Open Your Heart.”

The camera circles them as they circle the piano and I almost get a little sea sick. LEARN NEW MOVES. The song totally mirrors their feelings for each other [DRINK!], but since they’re teens, they just race away from each other and don’t deal. (Girls in the hallway are wearing various Madonna looks, by the way. It’s awesome.)

This outfit is the inspiration for your cocktail.

Kurt and Mercedes chat it up at the lockers. Kurt wonders if it’s too much if he gets into Kabbalah. Will wanders over to visit, and Sue swoops in to tell him to cut out this Madonna business, because that is her thing. She will not be copied, it’s in her contract, and my god, how much margarine is in Will’s hair? It’s distracting her. Will has had it with the hair jokes. He fires off a few good ones.

“How’s that Florence Henderson working for you?” And “Maybe you should try a new setting on your Flobee.” Ooh, sick burn. That was too far for her, she grabs two different students and shoves them into lockers. [DRINK!]

Finn makes a pommesgabel, licks his finger tips, and smooths them over his eyebrows. OMG, I love that cheesy thing dudes do to primp. He asks Santana if her offer still stands, and it’s on like LeBron!

Kurt and Mercedes go to talk to Coach Sue after her over the top display in the halls. She explains to them that because her parents were famous Nazi hunters, they were gone and it was up to her to raise her handi-capable sister. As such there wasn’t a lot of time and money to keep up with the latest fashions. Kurt gasps at that.

Sue was six years old when “True Blue” came out (oh my god, I laughed so hard at that) and she and her sister used whatever was available to bleach Sue’s hair. The napalm damaged it so badly that she’s never been able to grow long hair since. She’s been jealous of Will’s hair all this time. Kurt says, “I think we can help. Mercedes is black. I’m gay. We make culture. We can help you with the Cheerios.” [It’s not a Brittany zinger, but it’s too damn good to not celebrate. DRINK!]

Rachel sneaks into the library to meet Jesse after hours. He’s waiting in the Sondheim biography section (it perfectly expresses his melancholia.) He tells her that he’s willing to wait for her to be ready for sex, and when the time comes, he’ll come fastidiously groomed. She tells him that she is ready. (No, she’s not.)

Emma grabs Will in the hallway and tells him that she is going to captain her own ship, and the first port that will be docked is her Lady Port, and she orders S.S. William (hopefully not a dinghy) to tie in at 7:30 pm, sharp. He’s stone-faced and says that he agrees to this nautical manifest, and “Aye, aye Captain.” He fists pumps when she walks off.

The A/V club records the greatest thing ever, Sue Sylvester recreating the “Vogue” video. Kurt is one of the models from the video, and he is flawless. Mercedes is also one of the models, and she, too, is fab. But Sue knocks it out of the park, wears all of the various outfits, does the dancing, and is generally awesome. I love how she changes out various lines like, “Sue Sylvester: dance on air,” and “Will Schuester, I hate you.”

Let’s all take a minute and contemplate how amazing every single damn one of Madonna’s videos are. ALL of them.

But we have to go through the painfully awkward moment in the episode where people lose their virginity while Rachel and Jesse sing “Like a Virgin” – the other couples mouth along, barring Santana who gets to really sing as well. [Double DRINK!]

All of the girls are wearing pink nighties (Rachel’s has a capelet) and the guys pull each of their lady loves onto their laps as the girls simulate riding them. It’s really uncomfortable when they cut between the students and WILL. I just… if it had been only Will and Emma, it wouldn’t weird me out. But then, the writers have a total Schoner (Schuester boner) so there’s no way to escape it.

The song ends and the camera cuts to each of the virgins looking at themselves in the mirror. It was all a dream, it seems.

Kurt and Mercedes see Sue in school on Monday, but she’s not dressed in any of the looks they got for her! That’s because Ms. Sylvester is a one of a kind, she doesn’t need to copy any one, that’s the real message of Madonna. I have to take a moment of vindication when Sue calls them “Whoopie and Don Knotts.” See: my recap of episode 5.

Why yes you ARE fabulous, Mercedes.

Rachel and Finn chat like friends, “hey, how was that first time sex, pal?” (Um, when did everyone learn that Friday was Lose Your Virginity night? Was there a flyer?) Rachel says it was no big deal, why was she even worried about it? Cut to that night with Rachel refusing to leave the bathroom as Jesse begs her to come out so they can talk or sing about their feelings. Liar, liar, pants on fire, Rachel!

Finn says that’s great, but he didn’t do it. He’s saving himself for someone he cares about. Rachel looks really uncomfortable at that. And we learn that Finn and Santana did the deed, and Finn was really upset when it was over. It felt like nothing special because it meant nothing. Aw, Finn! Santana is clearly dead inside, as well (we learn why in Season 2) and tries to keep it cool.

“I’ve noticed that it takes twenty or so times before a sense of accomplishment kicks in.” Poor kids.

It is okay to not have sex! It’s okay to have sex with someone you care about and abstain if you don’t! (Girls on the verge of their sexuality need to read some Anne Sexton. Don’t be a littleneck clam! Don’t be water colors that wash off!) This goes for dudes, too. Sorry, soap box moment.

Oh, note of hilarity. While Rachel and Finn are talking in the music room, Puck is inexplicably standing frozen in a mid-bitch slap pose for like, three minutes. What the what?!

Emma slinks in to apologize to Will for not letting him storm her castle. Will mansplains that she didn’t need to do that (uh…) but see, she did take ownership of her body by saying no to him! They’ll not date until his divorce is final, as well as after Emma gets some therapy. He’ll help her find a therapist.

And I have to say, while I like the message of “you can be a strong female by NOT having sex, too,” I don’t know if Will’s handling of this situation – validating her choices by the fact that he’s superior to her (in his mind) and getting her a therapist, and telling her it has to happen now – is kinda charming or really really offensive. I think the writers don’t get how chauvinist their beloved Will Schuester comes off. More in drunken thoughts.

Jesse St. James shows up in Will’s office shortly after Emma leaves. He’s holding transfer papers. Oh, is he now? They head to Glee where Finn loses his cool. “What the hell? It’s like everyone is doing something just to hurt my feelings!” Poor Finn.

Jesse sooths him, “I’m a star, you can learn from me.” HA HA! Santana calls him out as a spy, and she ought to know. Brittany asks, “Mr. Schue, is that your son?” They pull back to show them side by side. They do resemble each other. (Heather Morris ad libbed that line. She is GOLD. DRINK!)

Rachel is baffled by this. Why is he here? Why, because he loves you and wants to be together, and that can’t happen if he’s with Vocal Adrenaline! Man, this kid is slick.

The McKinley High Marching band starts busting out “4 Minutes,” and Kurt and Mercedes – wearing Cheerios uniforms – sing the Justin Timberlake and Madonna duet as the Cheerios perform in the background. Another song I love, and can I say that when Chris Colfer uses the lower register of his voical range and makes it growly, it’s bad ass? Because I just did. And Mercedes barely has to move to be an awesome dancer with rhythm. (Kurt is still a little too spazzy of a dancer. It’ll come. Kind of.)

Sue fills in a shocked Will: “Future center square there and teen hag just tore that song a new one.” They just want to perform, and it’s not happening in Glee. So they’re going to do both. Will is hurt, but dude, they’re right.

The guys say the first few bars of “What It Feels Like For A Girl,” and then bring it on home in five part harmony. Puck is still not okay with all of this “singing chick songs’ stuff, but they all agree to treat the girls better. Aw, they learned something! Artie apologizes to Tina for being a jerk, and she rewards him with a kiss. Cute.

Finn apologizes to Rachel for being a dick in the last episode, and he gets that he ruined his chance with her. Jesse comes over, sees his girl being talked to, and challenges Finn to a “sing off” at 5pm in the parking lot. Rachel gasps, horrified and frightened. Oh my god, that is hilarious. Finn offers his hand to Jesse, instead, and says he’ll back off.

The gang is all on stage singing “Like A Prayer,” and Kurt and Mercedes get moments to have mini solos and then… their show choir is backed by another choir. I know, they’re just wanting to stick with the video and the original performance, but they are also a choir. And that’s the last DRINK of the episode.


Drunken Thoughts: I know that they’re trying to get across how thoughtful and kind and awesome Will Schuester is, but he mansplains too much, he tells people how they should be, when he needs to be letting them come to their own conclusions, not telling them what the conclusions are. (Show, don’t tell. Lesson number ONE writers are to learn, come on!)

I know where they’re trying to take him, and if I squint, I’ll go there, too, but that is a big flaw in the writing of this show. But they have so many great moments that I can look away. Well, I can’t look away, but I can roll my eyes and carry on with it. Maybe I only see what my eyes want to see…

Best thing about this episode is clearly all of the great music and performances. The plot was a little weak, very much forced, but there’s so much good music that they can kinda make it work. Oh, who am I kidding, I don’t care about plot and stuff, more singing and dancing! And you’re welcome for not making any Madonna song title puns. You can thank your lucky star for that. But I do cherish each and every one of you. You must… love me. OK, I’ll quit. I’ll take a bow. Sorry. [wink!]

(The next episode, Home, is right this way! April Rhodes returns)