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Thursday
Mar102011

TV at the Movies: "They're All Going to Laugh at You!"

Shall we have a small screen comment diversion? There are two things in particular that are urging this post on. One: Gwyneth Paltrow as "Holly Holiday" wisecracking sexed up substitute teacher on Glee and Raja's increasingly commendable and now movie-spoofing creativity on RuPaul's Drag Race.

Let's take Raja first. Rita Rudner, who was the guest judge and comedy coach for this week's challenge (developing a comedy routine), was worried that people wouldn't have seen Carrie (1976) "I haven't seen it in 40 years" and therefore wouldn't get Raja's references. Oh Rita; the gays have seen Carrie! It's maybe not as obsessively worshipped as Baby Jane but it's up there. Raja came out wearing this.

Raja as Carrie, Raja as Herself

They're all going to laugh at you! (On purpose.)

I don't want to stress how much I love Raja and did long before he started referencing great movies like Heathers and Carrie verbally or with inspired visual gags. Basically when I love a contestant on any show they are doomed to come in second (or less) to someone hugely inferior. (I knew this was coming last season when Raven, who I was already crushing hard on, referenced Michelle Pfeiffer of all people. I was done!) I have the same weird mutant power to curse great actresses with my fandom, my love being the anti-Oscar. Do you have this power? Maybe it's our combined love that curses them? I'd prefer to share blame -- please, take some of it. Tell me someone you've cursed by loving them.  Only a lucky few escape this particular curse  -- Kidman, Winslet -- and then usually only by denying someone else that I'd rather call an Oscar winner! I'm sorry I/we did this to you Bening, Pfeiffer, Close, Turner, Moore, etcetera!

Speaking of Oscar winners, Gwyneth Paltrow revived some fan love when she absolutely killed in her guest spot on Glee months ago as the Lindsay Lohan mocking, Cee Lo singing, substitute Spanish teacher. Last night she was back to reprise the role, this time offering up some sex ed. Her first scene involving a cucumber and a condom was quite hilarious but she peaked early. The rest of the episode was an uncomfortable preachy weirdly discombobulated mess. Just like every other episode.

Let us fantasize about having so many musical-fix options available on TV and at the movies that we need have no great love for it. Yet we do. Gwyneth's voice is emotionally expressive and can flip from exuberant to sad and is really quite beautiful so the internet nastiness about her possible new record deal is just the typical hatesnark that ever plagues the great Web. If you can listen to her cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide", or rather her cover of the Dixie Chicks cover of that song,  and think that she doesn't have musical chops, you should probably see an Otologist. Salon thinks Gwynnie's character, or at least what she's emblematic of, is ruining Glee. I get the argument but it's really hard to single out one troublesome element since Glee is quite obviously, emphatically and even proudly the Worst "Best" show on television.

To borrow from RuPaul herself, "Can I get an 'amen'"?

Or a second opinion?

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Reader Comments (27)

If you can't love ya' Gwyneth, how the HELL are you gonna love someone else?

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDylan

Meh. I know it's gone down hill, but Glee still entertains me and I keep watching for some reason.

It's like Skins. Even though this current season is so far away from what it once was, for some reason I. Just. Keep. Watching.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Hey Nathaniel and many thanks for everything,

About Paltrow, since your exciting Eva Stewart's interview, Have you got some news about the Dietrich/Gwynie project ? Is it sure ? I mean : Did she actually sign something ?

Yours,

Francesco

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFrancesco

I don’t have your powers for evil. I’m cursed with a habit for loving films, filmmakers, performances and performers that have no active base anywhere except between my ears.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtfu11

Hallelu!

I love when ever drag race gets some press as it's one of my favorite shows. I really do hope Raja wins. And she's definitely the most film literate since Pandora's Boxx's Carol Channing. I'm definitely all for one of the Heathers winning though. They really are leagues above everyone else.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrady

I'm sorry but I love glee, and I did enjoy this episode. God knows how they do it, but glee has the ability to garner exactly what teenagers are going through. Being 17 and openly gay, I feel that glee has declined in quality slightly, but this latest episode was an exception. The Santana/Britanny story arc was beautiful and well executed and acted. As for gwenyth, her character is a bit wishy-washy, but I don't think it distracts from the quality of the show.

That's all from me :)

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNic meyers

Nic -- well i love it too. I"m just saying that it has so many flaws the love it suspect ;)

Francesco -- i haven't heard a peep. The wierd thing is i asked her that in that "we're always hearing abotu that but it's been years and never happened" and she seemed to be implying that they'd started the preprodcution so... who knows.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Salon has a stick up their ass! I love Holly - "My lips are sealed...just like your legs!"

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Amen. I can't remember the last time I had such a love/hate relationship with a bit of entertainment as I do with GLEE. The most frustrating thing for me, as Salon also pointed out, is that there is virtually no character continuity, no plausible arcs. Character motivations are almost entirely dependent upon whatever the latest high-concept episode calls for. Even the worst sitcoms find ways to jump that hurdle. And unfortunately, the show's camp level isn't wild enough to account for such things, what with every other scene being a bald-faced call for gay tolerance.

I did, however, love the sex episode, mishmashed as it was. The best episodes are those that pack in as many awesome numbers as possible. I am LOVING what Gwyneth is doing with her career lately, and I wholly agree with you about her voice and her Landslide cover. Gorgeous. It's to the point that I feel bombarded with sunshine every time I see that lady's face, which, thankfully, is quite a lot lately.

Anyway, haven't chimed in at TFE in a bit, so wanted to offer my two cents. Thanks for devoting a post to 2 of the only 3 shows I regularly watch. (Go Shangela!)

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKurtis O

Naya effin Rivera. That is all.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJonathon

Raja is a snotty boy in a dress, what he does has nothing to do with Drag, but no worries he and Rupaul have been friends for over a decade, (which should have excluded him), so he's a shoe in to win.
As for Gwyneth...another snotty boy in a dress.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrobo

robo -- wow. i'm not sure i want to know your definition of drag. It'd be SO boring as an artform if it was just about female illusion.

March 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Well Nat I'm going to tell you anyway. Not sure where you came up with the idea from my comments that I thought drag was only about "female illusion"?
I wouldn't say that some of the best drag I have seen by people like Joey Arias, Taboo, and even Nina Flowers, is about female illusion. What they do and have done is an artform, and it is these people that Raja is trying to emulate, but failing big time. When I see Raja I don't see art, what I see is a boy who knows how to put on makeup, and that's about it.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrobo

robo -- okay well than we agree on the generals just not this particular ;) my favorites are the people who treat it like performance art.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Amen.

I'm not the biggest Raja fan but that was a lovely costume. The girls this season aren't as funny as last season though. This show and Glee are both hot messes, but I keep watching. They have their moments. Loved the return of Gwyneth and while I am a total Shakespeare in Love hater (I know I know), between this and her wonderful turn in The Royal Tenenbaums, I'm willing to pretend Blanchett won for Actress in '98 and become a fan.

Oh and Jonathon, no joke. Santana was fantastic in this episode. Hope they keep giving her more to do.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Also, I would like to add that though her second appearance was uneeded and just thrown together because of her popularity...there is absolutely nothing wrong with Paltrow's performance. It's actually probably my favorite Gwynnie performance in a long time. (Ever?)

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJonathon

Nat, I had the exact opposite reaction to this week's episode. I thought the first half was way too over-the-top (with some funny moments) but it got better once it starting focusing on the characters and packing some genuine emotional punches. Seriously, how can you not love that scene where Burt talks to Kurt about sex? Yes, it may be preachy, but there's something about these two characters that every scene they have together feels genuine and honest. These two characters and their relationship are so well defined that I always look forward to any scene with Chris Colfer and Mike O'Malley (ever since Kurt came out to his dad and reacted in the most honest way I've seen any TV dad with a gay son react, supportive but still uncomfortable). I also loved the Santana storyline, and I'm loving what they're doing with Santana lately. The character has been growing a lot these last few episodes, and I loved that scene where she confessed her love to Brittany, and how heartbroken she was when Brittany refused to break up with Artie. I want more of these two, but I don't want them to go back to being Cheerios. They've been way more interesting to watch ever since they stopped being Cheerios. As for Gwyneth, yes, she rocks on this show and I would not object to seeing her again!!!

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Richter Scale -- i guess we have opposite Glee things. I don't like the scenes between Kurt and his dad at all. I realize they're everyone's favorite and on some theoretical level I love them but i ALWAYS feel like they're playing up a pandering preachy fantasy and nothing like the real thing. (though i do think whatshisname is just terrific as the dad -- totally believable within that fantasy for the reasons you state).

Plus... honestly... i would have been MORTIFIED if my dad wanted to talk to me about gay sex so the whole storyline...particularly Blaine's involvement (to me a potential lover talking to a gay boy's straight dad about how the gay boy doesn't understand sex is SO WRONG on so many levels. I mean how gross would it be if Quinn went to Finn's Mom and told her that Finn was too naive and maybe he hsould know more about sex!. i guess, well, i've rarely met anyone who LIKED talking about sex with their parents so it just seems like such a weird fantasy: school me on sex! I mean, do straight guys want their dad to do this? I don't recall any of my friends in high school wanting ANYTHING to do with their parents when it came to the topic of sex.

March 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I see your point, but the episode is not telling us that anyone likes to talk about sex with their parents, but they need to. It's a complicated subject that needs to be discussed so kidsknow what they're doing and as hard as it is, parents should be open and honest about it with their kids, and that is why I loved this scene with Burt. He was honest, and he took into account how difficult this must be for Kurt, but because of Blaine, he realized it was an important conversation to have with his son, gay or straight. I didn't mind Blaine going to Burt that much because, if nothing else, it propelled Burt to having this conversation, and also because I love what Blaine said to Burt about the relationship he has with Kurt. And, even though it's a fantasy, within this realm it feels like the most genuine thing in the show. And that is another reason why Blaine going to Burt didn't bother me. Blaine was obviousy concerned and he didn't want Kurt to learn about this stuff the same way he did, and Burt was not going to talk to Kurt without someon propelling him to, so that scene dd just fine for me (who else was going to propell him? Finn? Carol?). By the way, Burt is played by Mike O'Malley.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Man, was I the only one who hated Gwyn on Glee. Like, it was cringeworthy. My and my friend were watching, and it was just terrible, I mean I don't mind Gwyn, but she's not 'cool' and I can't believe people actually liked her.

And as far as her vocal talents, while she can sing, and could probably do well in a musical, she's not a singer, and voice really isn't god enough to be getting allt his attention. It sounded bad at the oscars (though maybe just becasue she was singing next to <Mandy Moore and and Florence Welch) and I feel like i'm going crazy cos evryone else seems to be in love with her again. I don't think she's done anything good since SiL, no actually she was hilarious in Shallow Hal.

March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrooooke

Gwyneth is merely an okay singer for an actress and I think people overstate her talent. She was horribly flat at her oscar performance. Further, she and the Glee people ruined a great song by Cee-Lo, just like they'll ruin more great songs in the future by putting them through the Fantastic Plastic Bubble Gum Makin' Machine.

Sometimes I swear that the mainstream sitcom culture will not be satisfied until they drag all outre elements into the muck and shit and crush everything unique and wonderful under its steel-toed boot of cheese.

Hell, it's gotten so desperate that we have "artists" (BEP) covering songs from the 80s (Dirty Dancing song) that were never good to begin with. I can appreciate postmodern style as much as the next guy, but to paraphrase LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, "It's worse than raping a cat. What do people have against ears?" You gotta draw the line when pop mainstream becomes the Soylent Green of the masses, suitable for every Dentist's chair and soda commercial America has to offer. *end rant*

March 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy

I loved Raja's Carrie costume -- I've loved all her looks -- but I find it hard to root for her to win the show ever since I started watching the "Untucked" extras on Logo. That's where we get to see all the queens backstage in the "Interiors Illusions Lounge" (say it again....Interiors Illusions Lounge) being extra extra extra mean to each other.

Raja's been one of the biggest bullies, aided by her sidekick Delta (good riddance). I was a fan until I got to witness all this ugliness. There are no illusions in this lounge.

March 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Timothy - Glee doesn't ruin songs. Glee is not a horror movie villain going back in time erasing songs from previous Billboard Top 100's. The songs they cover are still the same. If you want to listen to the originals, go for it. In the meantime, you can diss anything "mainstream" while reading Hipster Kitty memes.

One of Glee's original intentions was to introduce the younger audience to older music while promoting The Arts in school. Now that it's a media monster, of course it's going to go out of it's way to make a buck here and there...but that doesn't make it's intentions any less sincere and powerful. They don't ruin songs. They cover them for a younger audience. Learn to deal.

March 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJonathon

Jonathon -

1. I can't really make much of the first part of your post, other than discovering that apparently I'm anti-mainstream... btw, what the fuck are hipster kitty memes? The Cee-Lo song is mainstream itself, but is unique and wonderful in its original incarnation. Glee (and subsequently, Cee-Lo, et. al.) show bad taste by revamping the song, taking away its characteristic f-word. It's about as useful and interesting as a dull knife without the profanity.

Also, I think anyone who believes that some of these Glee songs needed to be toned down and reworked to younger audiences in the first place underestimates children and adults alike. You have to wonder about the cultural cycle being perpetuated -- were we always this stupid or do these crappy shows make us this way? Our current cookie cutter society is starting to look like the 50s in taste and texture and that worries me.

2. Glee both covers and ruins songs. I could care less about its nobler intentions. Bring attention to the arts in schools? Introduce music to younger audiences? More like spoonfeed applesauce to brain-dead imbeciles*. Intentions don't mean a thing when the show itself is a formless shitstain, a pop-culture grab-bag of regurgitated, nonsensical, and utterly stupid episodic adventures. Glee just welcomes us back to the white suburbanizing of America that we had a chance of escaping when the counterculture was in fuller force.

*I have to admit that this sentence is meaner than it has to be, but it's so snappy I have to leave it.

March 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy

To be 100% honest, i think glee is amazing, and to be technical the show introduces older songs to th new generation because if you think about it, what 13-14 year old kid is going to know half the songs on glee? For instance my little sister is 13 and she knows all this "new" music now because of glee and she has listened and falllen in love with the originals. and also they take current songs and hits and make there own rendition of them so people can hear there favorite current songs and have fun .... PLUS Blaine and the Dalton Academy Warblers are sensational, the just sound amazing on everything! Glee knows what to do and how to do it to keep people tuning in week after week and make people countdown to every tuesday night at 8pm. and i wish that i had the relationship the Kurt and Burt have! The way Chris COlfer and Mike O'Malley portray their characters is simply to die for, and they portray them accurately, Chris Colfer definetly deserved the Gloden Globe Award for his portrayal of Kurt Hummel, and the direction they are taking all of these characters on this beautiful show is simply amazing, my #1 FAVORITE SHOW

Now, for my #2 favorite show, RuPaul's Drag Race, i think Raja is gonna sweep the competition, and I truly believe if she doesnt a Heather will be in the top, some people on here say that watching Untucked that they realize she is mean and a bitch, and i personally believe she is very opinated and nothing is wrong with that, and also its kinda like a prerequisite to be Bitchy and Mean to be a drag queen. The heathers are superior, for instance Shangela, she is funny but she just isnt ready and Stacy Lane "Bryant" Matthews wasnt either, so she deserved to go as Raja said "Stacy, Shangela get the fuck out!" and Alexis Mateo is pretty and Yara Sofia is gorgeous, but they both just dont measure up to Raja and Manila and even Carmen Carrera. But i do agree with the fact that there is nobody like the unbelievable JuJuBee or Pandora BoXX. But to be honest Raja is gonna take the cake and eat it too!!

March 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJPEG74

Richter -- okay need to maybe but not in this much detail. I mean, should the dad of a gay kid be required to study up on gay sex? I don't know. something about the show's stridency when it comes to gay acceptance rubs me the wrong way and I've always (obviously) been pro gay acceptance. But I am happy that there's a show on television giving this much role model styling for parents given that Burt is an obvious fantasy but sometimes fantasy SHOULD be reality and many paretns are just too insensitive to their gay kids.

Broooke -- i have never seen Shallow Hal and I believe that's the first compliment I've ever read of it.

SanFran -- see, i have the opposite reaction to the Interior Illusions Lounge. I think Raja just comes off as no games straightforwardness and it's Shangela coming off as compeltely deluded shallow and evil. I'm thinking in particular of the "get real" scene.Raja is 100% correct about the way Shangela's mind works and what she can and can't handle in conversation and none of it has anything to do with what she pays lip service too. I used to like Shangela but she's worked my last nerve with her need for every scene to be abotu herself. It's an old trick of reality television of course and she worekd it like a pro but ENOUGH. I'd be so thrilled if she was sent packing.

Timothy & Jpeg & Jonathon -- i see both sides of this Glee reinterpretation for the masses thing. On the one hand, I was talking to a friend that's a musical lyricist the other day and he actually said "thank God, Glee has made musical theater palatable again" -- or something to that affect. He didn't say this 'I love Glee' but he implied a new confidence behind the scenes (not his -- producers maybe? I should have explored this thread of the conversation).

Now whether or not this producing / industry confidence only helps jukebox musicals (which is what Glee is) which are already popular without needing help is another matter.

I personally hate jukebox musicals. and that's how i'd define what timothy describes meanly ;)

The only thing that will save the artform is original material. But i also love the larger artform of song & dance... so with Glee i take it where i can get it. But I do think what Glee has done for musicals is overstated... particularly because since they became a "phenomenon" they've largely dumped the Broadway music in favorite of current hits. The ratio is like 2 to 12 now or something and me no likely. Popular hits are everywhere. Do we have to have them here too? I miss the first half of the first season before Glee tried to be all things to all people.

March 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Yeah, sorry. Glee-Mania really gets my ire up. No offense intended to people who like it... just stop... talking about it all the time, please?

"I miss the first half of the first season before Glee tried to be all things to all people."

Your point is exactly one of my main problems with Glee as well-- its overly agreeable nature. Well put.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy
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