The Rocky Horror Glee Show
(Originally published here on 4th November 2010)
Welcome to The Rocky Horror Glee Show!
Now, considering Glee’s (ahem) ‘rocky’ track record with tribute episodes, I approached last night’s instalment with a degree of trepidation. So I am pleased to report the show’s writers have managed to avoid the same mistakes they made with the creatively bankrupt Britney Spears-athon and have paid both loving tribute to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and also turned it into surprisingly wonderful mediation on reverse sexism, male body insecurity and the role of The Arts in teenage society.
So it’s basically ‘A Very Important Glee After School Special on the dangers of Male Body Image Disorders and The Social Responsibilities of The Arts in Schools’. Amazing.
So where to begin? In a bid to bring himself closer to a Dr John Stamos-besotted Emma, a jealous Mr Schue gets the Glee Club to stage a production of Rocky Horror in spite of the risqué nature of the material. As things slowly spiral into increasingly unpredictable madness, we were treated to loving recreations of, amongst others,Dammit, Janet, Sweet Transvestite, Touch A Touch A Touch Me and, of course The Time Warp. And man did the cast bring it aaawn! Finn made an adorable Brad, Kurt was a fantastically mischievous Riff Raff and even Mercedes did a great job as Frank N. Furter.
Here’s the cast doing The Time Warp:
Actually, Amber Riley rocked the absolute bejesus out of Frank, taking on of the more questionable censorship moves of the episode (John Stamos was originally slated to fill the role until the network nixed the idea) and making both it and that sensational black PVC corset work in way it really shouldn’t have. In fact, once I watched the episode, I can’t think of a single male or female cast member who could have done a fiercer, sexier performance.
Some of the other primetime friendly cuts didn’t work so well – who knew that the word “transvestite” was kosher for family viewing but not “transsexual” (in the aforementioned Sweet Transvestite number)? And, the changes to Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me verged on non-sensical – “No use getting into heavy-petting, it only leads to trouble and seat wetting” becomes “No use getting into heavy sweating (which just sounds gross), it only leads to trouble and bad fretting.”
Kudos though for address the obvious censorship and working it into the episode. Sue has a great side storyline where, in the pursuit of a local news Emmy (Celebrity cameo alerts – Barry Bostwick! Meat Loaf!), she takes on the role of The Narrator and the sight of her lounging around on stage making script changes as the show goes on was one of the nights best and most delightfully surreal gags. Mercedes begging for the role of Frank N. Furter just to finally have a chance to be a lead role was sweet and touching. And the final speech by Sue about how teachers of the arts have a responsibility to students to not just push boundaries to further their own agendas was tight and stronger than expected.
Finally, it was refreshing to see a primetime show tackle male body insecurities with such candour and sensitivity. When faced with the prospect of two hours singing in front of a full auditorium in his tighty-whities, Finn revealed that he was so insecure about his body that he even wears a swim shirt to the pool. Adorable. Bonus points to Sam (who is fast becoming my new celebrity boyfriend) for coining the term ‘Ab-ulous’.
The Locker Room discussion between Sam, Finn and Artie addressed the overlooked issues of the increasing objectification of men in today’s society articulately and in a thought-provoking manner. Hopefully this will provide comfort and understanding to the millions of young men worldwide grappling with the same issues. Artie’s “I personally blame the Internet. Internet porn was invented, girls could watch without having to make that embarrassing trip to the video store. Internet porn altered the female brain chemistry, making them more like men, and thus more concerned with our bodies.” was spot on.
It’s nice to see Glee back on track after a shaky start to the season and using the tribute show format to further existing storylines, not just to increase ratings. The final correlation between The Rocky Horror Picture Show being a refuge for the freaks and the outcasts and the Glee Club fulfilling the same role was touchingly apt.
Plus, anything that puts the adorable Chord Overstreet and his oversized Lisa Rinna lips in a pair of gold lame hot pants for an hour is fine by me.
Best Number of the Night
Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me by Emma and a shirtless Mr Schue. Wowsers! Jayma Mays doesn’t get to sing that often on Glee but boy did she make up for it with this sizzling, perfectly executed number.
With the added bonus of a quivering Matthew Morrison stripping down to his pants, this sexually charged rendition will probably ended up being one of the most watched YouTube clips by weeks end.
A little known fact is that Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me is actually the song Mays originally used in her Glee audition. Bonus points for Brittany and Santana’s hilarious background work in the window:
Becky: Give me some chocolate or I will cut you.
Brittany: I’m looking forward to seeing Sam in his gold bikini.
Sam: It’s gonna be ab-ulous.
Finn: I have no idea what’s going on in this script, and it’s not in a cool Inception kind of way.
Sue: Children must know fear. Without it, they’ll try Frenching grizzly bears or trying to live in Florida.
Kurt: What are you going as for Halloween?
Brittany: I’m going as a peanut allergy.
“Go scream at some fatties.” – Sue to Becky