Don’t say “diva” like it’s a dirty word. I mean, if living legend Aretha Franklin was more than happy to be front and center for VH1′s “Divas Live” extravaganza, then who are the rest of us to treat it like a common four-letter word, right?
Okay, so diva-dom might also be about milquetoast Emma Pillsbury reducing Cheesecake Factory managers to tears, and Rachel Berry’s runaway ego stomping around New York City like King Kong after an expensive blowout at the salon. It could even prompt Tina Cohen-Chang to withhold her “soup” from an ailing Blaine Anderson. Yikes!
Those opposing sides of the diva coin got scrutinized in this week’s Glee, a mostly lighthearted, music-packed hour with a moral that came from the mouth of Kurt Hummel: “Hold the nightmare, but bring the diva. Your work speaks for itself.”
If you were too busy reading Martha Stewart Weddings to catch the episode, here’s what you missed on Glee:
* Kurt, infuriated by Rachel’s increasingly inflated, post-Winter Carnival sense of self-importance (and the “sycophant” pals that came with it), decided she needed to be “taken down a notch.” His strategy? Challenge her to NYADA’s “Fight Club” for vocalists — Midnight Madness — where he indeed proved triumphant “by the closest margin in history.” A dejected Ms. Berry couldn’t get her mojo back and decided to skip an open call for Funny Girl, not because she lost, but because she feared success would turn her into a monster and alienate her friends. Kurt, though, like a good BFF is supposed to do, helped Rachel realize that — with an occasional dose of real talk — she might be able to have it all. (Silent applause.) I also dug the way that Rachel — even at her most self-absorbed — stuck up for Kurt when her catty cronies tried to ridicule him behind his back. See, girlfriend can evolve and yet remain true to her roots!
* Finn, worried about New Directions’ changes at Sectionals, turned to Emma for advice. Her plan? Diva Week! Still, as the guidance counselor helped Finn whip his glee club into shape, and as he helped her put the finishing touches on her upcoming wedding ceremony (only 10 days away), the Best Man began to develop strange feelings for the Bride-to-Be. When “Miss Pillsbury” had a panic attack, Finn snapped her out of it by planting a kiss — on her lips! That’s not gonna make next week’s nuptials awkward or anything… But it did give Jayma Mays quite the startling, dramatic scene; I totally bought her freakout, especially considerng she’s carried the wedding-planning burden all alone in Will’s absence. Good work!
* Speaking of wrong-minded romantic pursuits, Tina continued her pining for Blaine, right down to knocking him out with cold medicine and then straddling him to rub Vicks on his smooth, mucus-filled chest. (Eeep!) Somehow, Blaine’s lack of romantic interest made Tina a little angry, but she channeled those feelings into a lively cover of Madonna’s “Hung Up” and won Diva Week in the process. (Sorry, Unique!) Now, though, Blaine’s taking his McKinley bestie as his date to Will and Emma’s wedding, and I get the sense that she’s still holding on to the very weird idea of “a sexless thing” to get her through the school year. This doesn’t make any sense to me, but I’ll play along and see where the writers take us.
* Finally, Santana returned to McKinley, determined to create a rift between Brittany and Sam, but by the end of the hour, realized that it wasn’t her ex-girlfriend’s new relationship that was bugging her. The recent college dropout really pined for The Big Apple, and Brittany helped her realize that a bus ride to Manhattan was her destiny. A final-act rendition of “Girl on Fire” found the Lady Lopez bursting out of McKinley’s doors and emerging from a New York City subway, then heading to Kurt and Rachel’s place. Guess what, bitches? She’s moving in! (And let’s be honest, they could use an extra income to help pay what’s got to be extraordinary rent — even in distant Brooklyn.)
And now on to grades for the week’s musical numbers:
The ladies and gays of New Directions, “Diva” | The costumes and finery were fabulous, but I didn’t like the sped-up rearrangement of Beyoncé’s speak-talk hit, nor did any of the glee clubbers in question really seem to capture the street-swag essence of the ditty. Grade: C+
Blaine, “Don’t Stop Me Now” | I can’t be the only one who winced seeing Blaine Warbler in a leather cap and leather jacket with studded collar, tragically posturing his way through a Freddie Mercury hit, can I? Just no. Grade: D+
Santana, “Nutbush City Limits” | How awesome was it when Santana burst into the choir room and gave McKinley a jolt of her patented charisma? She’s really been missed this season, but here’s hoping her triumphant closing note signals that she’s back to stay for a while. Grade: A-
Santana and Sam, “Make No Mistake, She’s Mine” | Pretty enough, but I’m not sure I bought the stakes behind the duo’s battle for Brittany. Plus, Ms. Pierce’s choice who she dates, not Sam’s or Santana’s? Grade: B-
Kurt Vs. Rachel, “Bring Him Home” | Yowza that was as lovely as a bruising musical battle could be, but when it was all said and done, I’d probably have ended up on Rachel’s side of the room. (Wouldn’t it have been a more interesting plot twist, by the way, if Rachel had actually been triumphant?) Grade: A-
Tina, “Hung Up” | What an oddly filmed musical number, no? I liked that Tina went all-out in Madonna’s trademark pink leotard, but half the number the director reduced her to a background player, with constant frantic cuts to her background breakdancers, the awed members of New Directions and the McKinley lunchtime crowd. Best part for me was Tina’s dismissive, “Don’t even worry about it” as Finn, Emma and company went to congratulate her. Diva! Grade: B+
Santana, “Girl on Fire” | Even if it hadn’t ended with Santana in the City, I’d have given this stellar vocal an ‘A’; thankfully, though, this turned out to be one of those musical performances on Glee that’s both a delight on its own while also advancing the plot in a neat and thrilling fashion. Grade: A
And now for your week in zingers…
Rachel holding up “Saving my voice” and “Will you take a message?” cue cards to try to get Kurt to answer the phone for her.
“The Online Urban Dictionary defines a diva as ‘a fierce, often temperamental singer who comes correct. She is not a trick-ass ho and she does not sweat the haters.’” –Emma, discussing the word ‘diva’
“Raven-Symoné.” –Brittany, pretty certain she’d guessed the special guest performing for New Directions
“And I didn’t even have to lay out a line of cereal for you to find me.” –Santana, after luring Sam to meet her in the auditorium (oooh, burn!)
Sanatana’s reference to a Rizzoli & Isles lesbian subtext blog
And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of “Diva”? What was your fave musical number? Take our poll, sound off in the comments, and for all my Glee-related recaps and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!