Glee: The Substitute

Posted by: Mike Walkey  //  November 21, 2010 @ 1:56pm

Filed under: Recaps & Reviews

"There's nothing as pathetic as an aging hipster." – Dr. Evil, Austin Powers (1997)

When Mr. Schuester gets sick, a substitute teacher named Holly Holiday (guest star Gwyneth Paltrow) takes over his Spanish class and the glee club, and winds up winning over the whole New Directions clan. How does she do it? By becoming their friend. By being the hip teacher. She's laid back, she lets the kids sing what they want, she comes to class in costumes, and she tweets her students feedback. But somewhere along the way she discovers that her methods are not as effective as they first appeared.

Now here's an episode for any teacher, boss, or parent. Where is the line between authority figure and friend? It's great to be on a level with your pupil where they can approach you with any problem they may have. Growing up is hard. It's impossible to do alone; without any guidance whatsoever. Good friends are so important during this process. Non judgemental and supportive peers are vital in developing self esteem and growth. But young people also need leadership and guidance and positive role models to look up to. It's great to have a parent or teacher who can act like a friend; but sometimes a student doesn't need a friend. They need a teacher. And sometimes friends cannot provide what a parent can. Like unconditional love and security.

Holly Holliday learns that what is popular is not always right, and being a popular teacher is not the same as being a good one. Her irresponsible advice gets her and Mercedes into some hot water when Mercedes shoves tater tots up Sue Sylvestre's car's tail pipe. Sue sums it up when she asks Holiday point blank, "You have absolutely no idea what you're doing? Do you?"

After a breakdown, we learn that Holly has some growing up to do herself. And speaking of Sue, she has somehow inherited the principal's position after Figgins falls ill. I love the idea if you ask me. I can always go for more Sue Sylvestre. I always look forward to seeing how Sue "C's" it! And whodathunk she drives a LeCar?!?

The finale number is a mash up of "Singin' in the Rain" and Rihanna's "Umbrella", combining the best of both teacher worlds: Will and Holly. Mash up songs on Glee are usually a mixed bag, but this one seems to work, probably more so for the stylish performance than the song itself.

Pretty solid episode. My only quibble: The timing of Gwyneth Paltrow's guest spot is conveniently airing just a few weeks before her movie Country Strong opens, where she plays a country singer. Oh well, it's not the worst kind of self promotion out there.

Tags: Glee

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