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Posted at 7:30 AM ET, 02/23/2011

'Glee' blames it on the alcohol: We watch so you don't have to [updated with video]

By Lisa de Moraes

The "Glee" cast performs during the "Blame It On the Alcohol" episode. (Fox)

WaPo Team TV's Emily Yahr blogs:

This week's, "Glee," titled "Blame It On the Alcohol," featured its high school characters doing body shots, chugging wine coolers and a guy drunkenly throwing dollar bills in the air while his girlfriend ripped off her shirt. And that was only in the first 15 minutes.

But parents who let their kids watch this show, which, as its creator likes to remind us, is all about opening the eyes of children to music, never fear -- the underlying message this week was all about how Alcohol Is Bad.

Kind Of.

(Though maybe not children of all ages -- it should be noted Tuesday's show was rated TV-14, which means it may not suitable for kids under 14, noting the use of unsuitable dialogue, language and sexual situations for the youngsters)

You see, McKinley High School is going through a very tough time, because tons of students are showing up to class drunk. Whether it's a coping mechanism for dealing with the sheer ineptitude of their teachers, we'll never know. Principal Figgins enlists Spanish teacher/glee club director Will Schuester to bring together his group and perform a song highlighting teenage drinking and How It Is Bad. It will be, Figgins says, the perfect way to celebrate Alcohol Awareness Week.

In one of those unfortunate coincidences, it's also the week glee club decides that underage drinking is awesome. Self-proclaimed glee club leader Rachel is determined to become a songwriter, like Carole King she says, but lacking much in the way of life experience, the best she can do is a ballad titled, "My Headband." How fortunate her dads are out of town when bad boy Puck suggests the quickest road to "life experience" is throwing a party at her house.

Will confronts Emma on "Glee." (Fox)

Cue party music and cheesy home-video-looking scenes of the glee kids consuming gallons of booze and partying hearty (see above for specifics), including a game of spin the bottle that ends with Rachel, who's dressed like a pilgrim for the occasion, making out with Blaine, the openly gay, rival glee club member who's currently the object of Kurt's affection. Remember last week when Rachel decided she was going to focus on her career instead of having a boyfriend? Oh right...this is "Glee." Welll, this week Rachel decides Blaine may be her Ideal Boyfriend candidate: he loves "Love Story." Naturally, a Rachel/Blaine duet erupts; the two sing Human League's "Don't You Want Me."

Blaine also is confused, in re the boozy kiss; understandably Kurt is unhappy. And, in true "Glee" fashion, it none of it matters just minutes later when Rachel does a sober lip lock with Blaine which leads Blaine to the conclusion that he's gay after all and it's back to Plan A. Rachel is happy too because, she says, she's now had one of those life experiences that makes for a great tune.

Back to school, where the glee clubbers are all sporting epic hangovers. This, along with Mr. Schue's lecture about alcohol poisoning, a chat about how excessive drinking is not good for anyone, and a word or two about the importance of designated drivers, are the only glimpses we will get of the episode's Alcohol = Bad leitmotif.

Speaking of Mr. Schue, he and his new BFF, football coach Beiste, decide Alcohol Awareness Week is the perfect week in which to celebrate their adulthood and how there's still nothing like throwing back a few to take the edge off of whatever's edgy in one's life. Especially at a honky tonk bar, so they can duet George Thorogood's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" and ride the mechanical bull. Sadly, Mr. Schue follows up this pleasant evening with a "drunk dial" that includes the murmuring into the phone the words, "Hey therrrrrre, sexy lady."

Beiste and Mr. Schuester on "Glee." (Fox)

But, to whom is this drunk dial, um, dialed? Excellent question! Mr. Schue believes it's Emma, the germaphobe guidance counselor who's married to John Stamos. He would, however, be wrong, Mr. Schue had dialed evil cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester who, naturally, broadcasts it over the school's PA system.

And what of the glee clubbers? They decide to perform Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" at the school's Alcohol Awareness Week assembly while drunk -- and sadly, Brittany winds up projectile vomiting on Rachel in the middle of the number. On the bright side, it's an interesting shade of blue.

Lucky for glee club, Principal Figgins mistakes it for performance art. But Mr. Schue, who knows real vomit when he sees it, makes everyone in glee club sign pledges that they won't drink again until the Nationals competition. Mr. Schue also takes the pledge.

And even though show ends with all the kids saying they're so over alcohol, we think the show took its real stand on the whole Teen Drinking thing via Coach Beiste who, while bonding with Will after their honky tonk adventure, said:

"The way I see it, we can't just lecture kids...We can't stop them from drinking if that's what they're going to do. The best we can do is make them aware of the dangers and hope they're smart enough to make a good decision on their own," she said.

And then she burst out laughing.

Set list:

"Don't You Want Me" -- Human League
"Blame it on the Alcohol" -- Jamie Foxx
"One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" -- George Thorogood
"Tik Tok" -- Ke$ha

See for yourself:

"Don't You Want Me":

"Blame It On the Alcohol"

"One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer"

"Tik Tok"

By Lisa de Moraes  | February 23, 2011; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Glee  
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It was like watching a train wreck. Despite being a self-proclaimed "Gleek", by the end of the show I vowed to boycott all future Glee episodes. I knew they had been pushing the envelope, but this one went too far for me. The "message" about the dangers of drinking (the part where Coach Bieste spoke to the drunken Mr. Schuster) was minimal, even trivial, and seemed to be slipped in as a joke seemingly aimed at the viewers who probably thought the casts drunken stupors were funny. What really was the message Glee was supposed to portray in this episode? It certainly was not about teaching young people about the dangers of drinking. It only seemed to glorify the "partying" and stupified way everyone looks when their drunk, as if Glee itself were trying to look cool. And that's too bad, because I did think Glee was cool. I did used to proudly proclaim to be a Gleek. But after last night's episode - no more. Even my 17 year old daughter was disgusted. So, no more Glee for me.

Posted by: jnettie562 | February 23, 2011 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Having lived through my own drinking days, I found this episode very funny and, in some ways, much like what I experienced back in the "good" (bad) old days! Loved Tik Tok (not the vomiting though, ewwww)- awesome dancing! I'm loving the show as much as ever, though I'm not watching with any kids and probably wouldn't!

Posted by: MILWI | February 23, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

This show is definitely one that shouldn't be watched with children around. I'm not sure that a TV 14 rating was high enough.

Posted by: mbrumble | February 23, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I have mixed feelings about the episode. I thought it was very funny, but I don't know if I would have wanted my child to see it, if I had one. As I was watching it, I knew some people would be offended and I'm sure Glee writers knew it, too.

Posted by: cwarddc | February 23, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Boring episode for the second week in a row. Neither funny nor insightful.

Better be careful, this show is going to be eaten by the shark before it has a chance to jump it.

Posted by: Iceman_63 | February 23, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Will Schuester is a Spanish teacher?? That one got lost on me -- guess I've never seen them have him do anything except Glee Club when I've watched the show...

Posted by: Kathy8 | February 23, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The episode was definitely controversial and was definitely not preaching teen abstinence in terms of alcohol.

But seriously, why are people acting so shocked? In the first season a teen got drunk and pregnant. That's what the show is. Should it be on at 8pm? No. Should children watch it? No. But I don't understand why people who previously liked the show are up in arms.

Also, Ms. Moraes, you missed one fine point. It wasn't a "coincidence" that the Glee kids happened to start drinking during Alcohol Awareness Week. It was BECAUSE they were told to sing about how bad it is that Rachel said, "Actually, I don't know how bad it is because I never drank before." Maybe that's why most schools stage a mock accident instead of asking the very kids they want to never start drinking to explain about what can happen if they start drinking.

More on Glee

Posted by: Amberdawn | February 23, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Do people really expect a comedy to tackle issues seriously? The show is wildly inconsistent with its messages but it is a comedy and if you set aside the crazy notion that it can deal comprehensively with complex social issues then you have set the stage for enjoying the wackiness of Glee. I love it because it gets the issues out there and talked about - that is where real learning and real change takes place. I loved the epidode (well, except for Sue shoving the guy down the stairs) and I pretty much adore anything that Darren Criss does. Have you heard him in Life of Leopold yet - very funny (but not alot of social redemption there either)

Posted by: gailkaye | February 24, 2011 6:11 AM | Report abuse

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