Three years ago I was visiting one of my friends and found myself at a party when the Time Warp started playing. Many of the party-goers seemed to know all of the moves to the dance, but me and another friend were completely perplexed about what was happening. As it turned out, we were at a marching band party, and the Time Warp is one of the songs the band plays regularly, but as a 20 year old movie fan, I had no clue what it was.
The problematic thing about Glee doing a Rocky Horror Picture Show episode is that Rocky Horror isn’t really as ubiquitously known as the movie's fans seem to think. While episodes devoted to Madonna and Britney Spears make sense because those are two of the biggest stars of their generations, the majority of Glee’s target demographic probably hasn’t seen Rocky Horror, let alone know the movie/musical well enough to appreciate an entire episode of the show that is paying tribute to it.
Personally, I was barely aware of Rocky Horror Picture Show before I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower a couple summers ago (a book that includes a subplot about going to midnight showings of RHPS). Intrigued by the midnight showings with high levels of audience participation, I went to one that summer. It was bizarre, involved a lot of high school-aged kids running around in their underwear (and some older guys that were creepily there as well), and featured a plot that barely made any sense (which Sue Sylvester points out in the episode. I was completely immersed in something that I did not understand at all.
I suppose that this is the basis of a Rocky Horror experience, and if this is what the Glee writers were trying to achieve, then I suppose they succeeded. I believe that they failed miserably because the whole episode seemingly assumed that their viewers not only have a basic understanding of Rocky Horror, but have a great appreciation for the movie/musical.
The Glee writers/producers seem to think that fans of the show (the Gleeks, I suppose) are this small group of outcasts similar to people that love Rocky Horror and regularly attend midnight screenings. While I’m certain that every Rocky Horror fan has probably been watching Glee from the start, the audience of the show is SO MUCH LARGER. This is a top 20 show on the TV!! Behind Modern Family it is the second highest rated show (not including football) for the 18-49 demographic. To make an episode that assumes the viewers are intimately familiar with a cult movie is almost insulting to the broad audience of the show.
I understand that the cast and crew probably had a great job filming this episode, but in the grand scheme of things it turns people off from the show. I’m sure millions of fans like myself begrudgingly watched and then found themselves barely paying attention by the end (or flipping over to Celtics-Heat). In the grand scheme of things, episodes like the Britney Spears episode earlier this year (or even using Empire State of Mind in the premiere) help to bring more people to the show, but having an episode that can really only be fully enjoyed by an incredibly small percentage of fans that happen to be a part of the Rocky Horror cult just doesn’t seem like a great idea to me and was a disservice to the show.
-As a whole, the episode did a pretty good job of limiting the number of storylines, and keeping characters unrelated to these storylines (Kurt, Mercedes, Tina, Artie, Mike, Quinn, Santana, and Brittany) in the background of the episode. Unlike some people, I like that the show is starting to do this to keep their episodes clearer and better organized.
-Will deciding to put on the musical to impress Emma was a satisfactory storyline, but I have mixed feelings about how they are dealing with their relationship. Emma essentially giving Will a lap dance in the middle of the episode was ridiculous (even if it was parodying RHPS), and the final scene between the two where they talked about how they loved each other but needed to stay apart was completely unrealistic. I understand how they want to keep these two characters apart for pacing reasons, but maybe it is time for Will to get a girlfriend so that he isn’t coming across as a complete asshole.
-I loved the John Stamos appearance.
-Finn and Sam being ashamed of their bodies is absurd. These two are supposed to be football players and the “cool” kids, I think they’d be ok with walking around with their shirts off.
-Did the Barry Botswick and Meat Loaf cameo serve any purpose other than to reference Rocky Horror? I don’t think so.
-I suppose it was nice how at the end of the episode Schuester acknowledges that Rocky Horror night showings are for the people that are outcasts (like they continue to describe the Glee club as), but this also highlighted how mainstream audiences wouldn’t really appreciate the episode.
All the songs in this episode were pretty much satisfactory, considering that I’m not really familiar with any of them. Because they were pretty much covering songs from a musical, they didn’t do much in the way of reimagining the music, but it was well done for what they were doing.
Read my review of episodes 3 and 4 Here