But this week the show cashed in on an offer from one of its highest-profile fans, after Madonna made her entire songbook available to the high-school musical series. The result is an inventive, funny episode peppered by a plethora of the Material Girl’s songs.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that Sue Sylvester would worship Madonna — she is the very personification of a self-made woman. And Madonna’s quote, “I’m tough, I’m ambitious and I know what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay,” clearly would not be unusual as a line of dialogue coming out of Sue’s mouth.
“Nobody quite like the Material Girl to empower my Cheerios,” she pronounced as she drilled the squad in an outrageous number on stilts — yes, stilts. And I greatly enjoyed this week’s glimpse into the origin of Sue Sylvester: “My parents were famous Nazi hunters, so they weren’t around much.”
Not only Madonna’s personality, but her music suffused this week’s episode. Sue performed a version of the “Vogue” video, and while Jane Lynch‘s voice was a bit thin, her attitude more than made up for it — and wouldn’t Madonna be proud of that! Her gloss on “Vogue” is a true tribute to Madonna’s spirit. And while it feels like Lea Michele overpowers “Open Your Heart” just a bit, it is actually Finn that Rachel is dominating. Which is a signal that his heart is not truly in the Madonna project. (Is Pantera really the male equivalent of Madonna?) It was interesting to watch the boys perform “What It Feels Like for a Girl.” I was unfamiliar with “4 Minutes,” the number that Kurt and Mercedes belt out with the Cheerios, but I sure know it now! It felt like the characters were releasing their frustration and anger through song.
It was hard to choose my favorite aspect of the episode, but I have to settle on the extended “Like a Virgin” sequence. I thought juxtaposing Finn and Santana, Rachel and Jesse, and Will and Emma was inspired. The women all wore variations on the same purple nightie — with each version telling us a little about the wearer. In the story, the power of Madonna is cited when Santana pressures Finn into agreeing to be…er, devirginized by the predatory “strong woman” Santana (What Would Madonna Do?” Sue asks. “Date a younger man.”). Emma claimed to be inspired by Madonna’s control over her own body when she told Will, “I’m planning on doing the nasty with you tonight at your place.”
I am usually an advocate of SEINFELD’s “No Hugging, No Learning” policy on entertainment, but this episode did deliver some lessons. Some questionable: “Sue Sylvester realized she doesn’t heed to reinvent herself. She needs to reinvent everybody else.” But Rachel and Emma learned the power of saying no. Rachel realized that going all the way with Jess when she wasn’t ready would have been like betraying her team and herself. While Will pointed out to Emma that took control of her body by deciding not to share it. Even dumb Finn learned something after having sex with Santana: “I don’t feel anything, because it didn’t mean anything.” Still, he told Rachel that he did not do it, because he was waiting for the right person.
•I know some people have scant patience for Brittany’s brand of pretty, dumb blonde, but I just gotta love her non-sequiturs. Thus, I am hereby inaugurating a new feature, the Brittany Line of the Week. Our first entry is not so much an unrelated blurb as misunderstanding: “When I pulled my hamstring, I went to a misogynist.”