Glee this week was “Guilty Pleasures,” an episode all about the embarrassing music that everybody secretly loves. The theme also extended to explore some more deep-seated personal shame for some of our favorite characters, including Jake, Kurt and, unrelatedly, Blaine. You can read our full recap below.
This episode opens on Blaine attempting to slip his good buddy Sam some cash-dollas, coyly telling Sam not to make a big deal, but that he wants to help him and his family. Sam is totally confused by the gesture, and it turns out that, the day before, Blaine spied Sam stealing bags of food from the school cafeteria, and Blaine – assuming this is to do with Sam’s family’s poverty – doesn’t want his friend getting into trouble, so he tries to give Sam fifty bucks to buy groceries. Realisation dawns on Sam’s face as he explains that Blaine got things wrong – that yes, Sam has been pilfering dried pasta, but that it isn’t for food, it’s for his macaroni art.
He makes Blaine swear to keep the lame hobby a secret, and shows him some of the incredibly realistic portraits that he’s created – Emma Stone, Ralph Macchio, even one of Kurt. Blaine thanks Sam for telling him the truth, and Sam asks Blaine to ‘fess up himself, about his own guilty pleasure: “Everybody’s got that one thing that they like, that they’re so ashamed of, that they refuse to admit it to anybody.” Blaine’s transfixed by Sam’s mouth as he talks, and it’s pretty obvious what Blaine likes and is ashamed of, but he weakly stutters out that he loves the band Wham!. They’re interrupted by Tina, who tells them that Schuester is out sick, and therefore not in the episode. Tina! For once you are the bringer of joy!
Upon hearing this from Tina, Sam sarcastically enquires, just out of curiosity, will Tina be going over to Schue’s house, straddle him while he’s passed out and rub ointment on his chest? Tina glares at him as Blaine tries – and fails – not to laugh. Man, I love that apparently everyone knows about the Vapo-Rape and calls it out as the creepy-ass shit it was, because, ew. Still. Ew. Tina tells the boys not to bother coming to glee club, as it will be cancelled, but Blaine looks at Sam and muses, “Not necessarily.”
Blaine and Sam call a glee club rehearsal. When everyone asks why they’re still meeting even though they are Schueless, Blaine – who comes from the Warblers, who don’t have a faculty advisor whatsoever – tries to instill some drive into the club, saying they can’t afford to miss a week of Regionals preparation. Sam announces the week’s assignment – guilty pleasures – and the rest of New Directions look at the enthusiastic duo blankly. Blaine chides them, saying everyone has some musical guilty pleasures, and when Ryder asks if Blaine really expects them to sing one of those songs for Regionals, Blaine says no, he doesn’t, but that he and Sam had a great conversation about their guilty pleasures which made them feel safe and liberated, and if the whole club experienced this together, they could become a more cohesive team.
Sam nods along and asks if there’s anything anyone would like to share, but the club continues to stare doubtfully. “Guys, this is a great team-building exercise,” he insists, and actually, it kind of is – way better than most of the stuff Schuester dreams up when he’s off staring in the mirror oiling his hair – and I really hope that showing the students as competent leaders is Glee‘s way of hinting that we can get rid of Will, properly, really soon.
Jake, raising his eyebrows, challenges Blaine and Sam to put their money where their mouths are, but this week’s leaders are one step ahead – they strip off their hoodies to reveal Wham! “CHOOSE LIFE” shirts and begin to perform “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Some of the other club members join in, and for a minute I get really excited because I think this is going to be a choir room group number, which they NEVER do these days – choir room is only for solos or team performances, they never do whole group numbers running around the choir room any more. Remember “Gold Digger”? “My Life Would Suck Without You”? “Forget You”? Choir room group numbers are my absolute faves and this starts out as one for a few seconds, but unfortunately it quickly shifts to a semi-fantasy auditorium performance, including sequences glowing under a black light with the whole club jitterbugging in fluoro t-shirts and shorts.
The next day or something, Brittany confronts Kitty about her mean behaviour, bluntly telling her that no one likes her and no one will work with her. Kitty says that she’s been trying to change, and Brittany offers to help her, inviting her to come on Fondue for Two and bare her soul. “So, Kitty. Everyone at school hates you, because you’re a two-faced lying slut who no one can trust,” Brittany states on-camera. Kitty nods, saying this is true, but that people keep telling her secrets anyway, which – yeah, why do they do that? I’m looking at you, Marley.
Brittany invites Kitty to play a little getting-to-know-you game in order for people to relate to Kitty more. They exchange some bizarre guilty pleasures – “Lord Tubbington’s guilty pleasure is Scientology” – and bond over their love of the terrible sequels in the Bring It On series. They reach a stalemate where Kitty will not admit her biggest guilty pleasure, and, too embarrassed, she whispers it in Britt’s ear, and looks traumatised.
Kurt, in an acting class at NYADA, inner monologues about how even his acting is an act, because in the exercise, which is meant to relate to secret memories and fears, he’s covering up his true day-to-day shame, over things like Richard Simmons work-out videos; but he reveals that his biggest guilty pleasure is his “boyfriend arm,” a pillow with a fake arm that hugs you in your sleep. “I ordered it one night while on Ambien,” he admits, as Glee steals from Chris Colfer’s life story once again, and goes on to say that if anyone ever found out – Adam, Blaine, even Rachel and Santana – it would destroy him.
Yeah, right now I don’t think Blaine’s too concerned about you right now, Kurt, as Sam comes to him in the locker room to admit that he’s been holding out on a deeper secret, something that he’s kept buried for as long as he can remember. He’s practically having an existential crisis. “Do you… have feelings for me?” Blaine asks, going into supportive mode while badly suppressing wild hope, as he wonders if Sam is coming out. Sam looks astounded but quickly realises that it had kind of sounded like that, and assures Blaine that no, that’s not it, it’s way worse.
His deep-seated sense of shame, the inner turmoil that he’s been hiding? “I like Barry Manilow,” he whispers to Blaine, who doesn’t quite catch it, and when Sam repeats it it’s a loud snap, which causes everyone around them to freeze and stare. Blaine apparently understands just how dire the situation is, telling Sam no, he can’t say that, he must shush immediately, but Sam poetically insists that Barry knows his soul, that he loves the stories in the songs and he just can’t help himself. Blaine tries to stay supportive and tells Sam that he should ‘come out’ about it to everyone, and that he won’t feel free until he does.