Glee Review: Don't Leave, Gwyneth Paltrow!

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There was just one small problem with Glee this week: I sort of want Holly Holliday to take over as the leader of New Directions.

Oh, sure, "The Substitute" offered up many reasons why that wasn't a great idea in the long run - not caring if your student gets arrested for a felony, for starters - but, wow, Gwyneth Paltrow gave the show a jolt of hilarious, talented energy on this episode, didn't she?

Gwyneth on Glee

For all the reasons we adore Glee, it has a tendency to bask in an air of smugness, preaching to viewers about various topics and coming across, as I put it last week, as more of a PSA than a TV show at times. But not this week.

This week actually incorporated storylines with character development with incredible performances with a guest star that slid in seamlessly to the show. In the end, there was one word for the hour, and it's a word that can be missing when the series veers too much in the direction of sending a societal message over simply being entertaining: FUN. Let's go over the reasons why...

Holly was unpredictable. Seriously, I love all the characters on Glee. But we know what we're gonna get every week: Rachel will act as a diva, Brittany will utter a dim-witted one-liner, Will will give some kind of motivational speech, etc.

But Holly surprised me with every scene. The first time we saw her, she was inspiring a class to learn Spanish by asking about Lindsay Lohan and then singing along to Conjunction junction, What's Your Function. Absolutely hilarious.

Small moments, big laughter. There were numerous funny gags during the hour. My favorites: The group trying to fool its substitute by swapping names and buttering the floor. Rachel wearing a mask when talking to an ailing Will. Kurt and Blaine only talking about "gay" stuff. Every action of Becky as Sue's assistant.

There was actual, realistic character development. This is a rarity on Glee. But Will and Terri went through the normal routine of a couple that has been together for very long and has trouble breaking up - fighting, make up sexing and one side finally realizing it's over - and Kurt and Mercedes also went through a typical issue that faces close friends: what happens when one of them finds someone else?

The one drawback of the episode? Just when I thought Terri couldn't get any more annoying, she breaks out the baby talk and... wow. Just... wow.

Overall, one of the funniest installments in Glee history and a welcome change from what has become a somewhat tiresome formula of the show forcing a theme down our throats. The only themes I sensed here were humor and entertainment, which are the main things I want from the show.

There was one message to kids, of course: Practice your bipolar rants. History can be fun!


Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (132 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


DO NOT like Paltrow. Her character is great; but she is less than impressive trying to be a singer...or play one on TV. Ick.


"... Glee...has a tendency to bask in an air of smugness, preaching to viewers about various topics and coming across, as I put it last week, as more of a PSA than a TV show at times. But not this week."
ARE YOU KIDDING??? It charcterizes anyone who isn't a slut as a repressed, dimwitted, mentally defective prude. Not to mention the anti-religious overtones. Oh, and homosexuality is just fine, if Dad relaxes and acknowledges that there's nothing wrong with it. Nice messages to the children watching, especially the girls.


HEY FOLKS!!!! You are missing it! This episode is going to develop down the road. Still don't see it? Terri is going to end up pregnant. My guess it will be the cliffhanger at the end of the season. Oh man, poor Will!


OMG!! I love this episode. Hands down my favourite so far. Gweneth Paltrow totally ROCKED!!! She was funny and can actually belt out a tune. I love the songs especially the Singing In The Rain/Umbrella mash up. It definitely brought the fun back to the show which I think has been missing since that awful Britney episode. I want her to STAY!!!


"The Substitute" was Ok. It wasn't at all the best episode of Glee of this season ("Duets" was probably the best, "Grilled Cheesus gets consideration for what it tried to do with the symbolism and fun of the grilled cheese, which in the end Finn eats, while Kurt and his love and pain for his dad goes on, plus "Never Been Kissed" for all the discussion it generated, whether or not it choked on bullying, and "Rocky Horror" for the fun of it). Paltrow's character was interesting (I actually even know an athletic blonde who's student teaching was so sexually intimidating from some of the more thuggish students that she actually changed majors at that late date). So, it was a worthwhile theme to utilize the high school setting to talk about teacher personalities and responsibilities (don't spray jock itch, cafeteria food, or being "afraid" to stand in the way of a student going out to wreck another teacher's car, or even being proud of tweeting with your students instead of teaching them) -- but then, if you're going to theme that, then why ... well, maybe it's just keeping it light to do it with a cartoon villain like Sue, who's "As Sue Sees It" for instance (no matter how many school board members were corrupt enough to be snared in her web and blackmailed to the point of perverting their positions and thereby harming children for the sake of their reputations) would make her too controversial for just about any community anywhere to not just tolerate but allow to be promoted, even temporarily. Some of the best moments were diva Rachel being such a caricature of herself, Mercedes blinking out on Kurt being such a caricature of himself, and the startling and very realness of Kurt being threatened with murder by someone he should very much believe is so turmoiled they are capable of doing it. Talk about bullying ....


I didn't care for this episode at all, and couldn't escape the feeling that the show kissed Gwyn's ego to help her launch her singing career. Really, Glee? All of your guest stars in the past have not only been able to really sing, but they've been relevant to the storyline. This was probably my least favorite episode ever of it.


This is one of my favorite posts this week, thank you.


did anyone else think that kurt was being ANNOYING as heck? some of it was funny (such as the purse regurgitation) but geez...


I loved gwen. I liked the character a lot and her singing was magnificient. I loved this weeks episode. It was just a fun episode :)))

Anna maria

she should stay and become will's assistant/girlfriend! she was GREAT! She wasn;t at all how I epected! She blew me away!

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Glee Season 2 Episode 7 Quotes

Will: I thought we were friends.
Sue: That got boring.

My years-long quest for power has finally bore fruit.


Glee Season 2 Episode 7 Music

  Song Artist
Song Singing in the Rain/Umbrella Glee Cast
Forget you 2 Forget You Glee Cast iTunes
Make em laugh Make 'Em Laugh Glee Cast iTunes