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TV Column
Posted at 12:30 AM ET, 03/09/2011

‘Glee’: Gwyneth Paltrow returns! And talks about sex!

GLEE: Will and Holly (Gwyneth Paltrow) share a moment. (Fox)

WaPo Team TV Emily Yahr blogs:

“Glee” has had plenty -- and we mean plenty -- of storylines about sex, the consequences of sex, and many of its high school characters having sex, but Tuesday’s episode is, we think the first “Glee” episode completely devoted to sex.

Very Special Guest Star Gwyneth Paltrow makes her return; last time she arrived on the show, all plotlines were mostly shoved aside so she could show the world she really could sing. Coincidentally, Gwyn’s movie, “Country Strong,” arrived in theaters around the same time. This time, she was actually worked into the storyline.

Gwyn is, once again, quirky substitute teacher Holly Holliday, called in when the health and wellness teacher is rendered out of commission with an STD. Unfortunately for the McKinley High students, that means their sex education classes consist of being shown how to put a condom on a cucumber -- scaring them off of salads for life.

This especially disturbs Emma, McKinley’s reserved guidance counselor and, as we learned in a previous episode, 30-year-old virgin. She feels strongly that the right way to educate students about sex is to teach them abstinence. The show kicks off with Emma leading Celibacy Club, and she asks only two members -- glee club diva Rachel and teen mom Quinn -- to embrace Chastity Charm necklaces.

Holly, on the other hand, thinks teaching the kids abstinence only is unrealistic. Naturally, the two women begin to snipe at each other. Spanish teacher/glee club coach Will Schuester -- who, let’s recap, was madly in love with Emma, but also harbors hot feelings for Holly -- sits by and watches -- awkwardly, we’re supposed to believe. Uh, huh -- right.

While the adults argue abstinence versus comprehensive sex education -- aka This Week’s “Glee” Creator Ryan Murphy’s Lecture -- the students have their own issues. Budding couple Puck and Lauren decide that the best way for Lauren to become famous, like a Kardashian, is to make a sex tape; Santana wants to continue a casual make out relationship with Brittany, but Brittany wants to talk about feelings; and after the Warblers perform Neon Trees’s “Animal” while dancing around in foam which is somehow supposed to convey “sexy,” Kurt confesses to his new BFF/crush Blaine that he can’t give sexy “looks” during the performance because he doesn’t know anything about sex.

Here’s where we’re asked to believe Mr. Schue realizes the glee club members might be a little naive when it comes to sex. And not, like you’d think, because Finn thinks he got a girl pregnant after making out with her in a hot tub. It’s because Brittany thinks she’s pregnant -- because she’s seen a bird building a nest outside her window which she assumes is a stork bringing her a baby. Brittany not only needs sex education in a big way, she also needs a couple ornithology classes!

Anyway, Will invites Holly to give the kids a sex education lesson, which of course necessitates Holly performing “Don’t You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” in an all-leather get-up while doing a come-hither chair dance. Will looks horrified.

But Holly has convinced Will she can subconsciously teach the glee club members about responsible sex, while disguising it as performing songs for regionals, so he sticks with the plan. Somehow, this results in Will and Holly doing a tango that would have gotten them booted off “Dancing with the Stars” the first week, to Prince’s “Kiss.” Then they kiss passionately in the glee club classroom. Will is thrilled; Holly, less so. She claims she’s damaged goods and he can’t handle her, but we think she’s just not that into him.

And just when we start to think Holly is just there to cause trouble and leave -- which would be great -- she starts to actually help people. First, she tells Lauren and Puck if they make a sex tape, they’re going to be arrested for child pornography, what with both of them being under 18 years of age. So that’s helpful. Then, she helps Santana and Brittany sort through their emotional problems by performing Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” causing Santana to break down in tears and realize she’s in love with Brittany.

But before she peaces out of McKinley High, Holly makes a real, lasting contribution. Not only does she gently break the news to Emma that “Afternoon Delight” is not a song about dessert -- Emma and the Celibacy Club members perform the tune while dressed like they’re in an especially creepy episode of “Sister Wives” -- but she counsels Emma and her husband, Dr. Carl, played by John Stamos who, according to the tabloids may be at the top of the list of possible Charlie Sheen replacements on “Two and a Half Men” which would not bode well for Dr. Carl and Emma.

Anyway, Dr. Carl tells Holly that he and Emma have been married four months, but they’ve never actually had sex. They just cuddle. A lot. Emma claims she’s not ready. But Holly thinks Emma’s still in love with Will. Emma says she’s not sure. Dr. Carl checks into a hotel.

The students love lives don’t have such great endings either. Santana has realized her true feelings for Brittany, she is afraid, having seen what happened when the openly-gay Kurt was bullied out of school. But it doesn’t even matter, because Brittany is in love with Artie.

The closest thing to a satisfying conclusion occurs when Kurt and his dad, Burt, finally have a sit-down, father-son, heart-to-heart talk about sex. Burt was spurred to take action when Kurt’s BFF, Blaine, visited Burt to bluntly tell him that Kurt knows nothing about sex and Burt really needs to have The Talk with him. Because that’s normal friend behavior.

In the end, Holly is gone, Emma is confused, Santana is heartbroken, Kurt is cautiously optimistic, and the Celibacy Club has many new members -- most of the glee club has decided to join. Oh, and Finn and Quinn are together again. No, It doesn’t make a ton of sense, but then again...it’s “Glee.”

SET LIST

“Kiss” -- Prince

“Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” -- Joan Jett

“Afternoon Delight” -- Starland Vocal Band

“Landslide” -- Fleetwood Mac

“Animal” -- Neon Trees

By  |  12:30 AM ET, 03/09/2011

 
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