Glee, Episode Four: All the Single Ladies

I'd call Glee a guilty pleasure, but I don't feel bad at all for enjoying such a witty, weird, determined little show. It skillfully walks the line between honesty and theatricality, cutting easily between genuine longing and the kind of arch, intentionally fake details meant to make the show feel like a stage show (the cheerleaders never out of uniform, etc.).

Case in point: The opening scene in which Kurt dances to Beyonce's "Single Ladies." It's kitschy and fun and so unself-conscious it's almost embarrassing -- as well as a semi-timely chance to cash in on a YouTube meme -- but just as it builds to a fever pitch, Kurt's dad walks in and kills the music. Kurt, panicked, claims it's a workout for the football team and that he's the kicker, a lie he'll have to make true. The show's not necessarily trying to break ground with its characters, especially with the typically gruff, aloof father dealing with a gay son. But it is good at the way those stories play out, and last night's episode was as rewarding and fun as they come.

"Preggers," written by series co-creator Brad Falchuk, split its energy between Kurt's attempts to win over the football team and a series of big and crazy revelations about babies and their daddies. That's good, because the stuff with Rachel and Schuester squaring off about what's best for glee club and who gets what solo and blah blah can get old fast. That's a plot point being treated as a story engine, which makes for repetitive and needless conflicts.

But holy hell, the other stuff was right on.

First, the baby drama: Even though Schuester's wife, Terri, has been faking a pregnancy (which is like the 137th reason he should leave her nutty ass), she comes up with a bonkers plan to get a baby when her husband passes along the news that head cheerleader Quinn is pregnant. When Quinn tells her boyfriend, Finn, he understandably goes to the zoo a bit, but twist on the twist: The father is actually Finn's best friend, Puck! (Also, Puck is played by Mark Salling, who's actually 27. Weird? Yeah, a little.) Terri pays a surprise visit to Quinn and gives her prenatal vitamins, but the action cuts away before she can reveal her true motives.

So the upshot is that Terri is gonna maybe probably try to somehow get Quinn's baby and raise it as her own, possibly also kinda convincing Schuester that it's really theirs. Uh, good luck with that? I mean, how can the guy not know? But it's great that the potential triangle between Quinn, Finn, and Rachel has added a fourth member, and we all know that love rhombuses (rhombi?) are bitches to cope with.

But it was the Kurt and football story line that provided what's become the series promised happy moment per episode. He "auditions" for the "role" of kicker to the laughter of the other players but just nails the kick by warming up to it by listening to --what else? -- "Single Ladies" as he approaches the ball. He and Schuester even use the song to teach the players some dance moves to loosen them up in hopes of using them on the field to screw with the other team. So of course the guys chicken out, but of course they change their minds at the last minute with just seconds left in the game, and of course it's freaking awesome. It's a football team doing the choreography to "Single Ladies"! It's insane and vampy and hilarious and sweet, and it's proof that the show can perfectly execute its tone even when some of the plotting is spotty.

And when Kurt makes the game-winning kick, so help me, I cheered. The show's just that damn catchy and affecting. Then later he comes out to his dad, who already knew and is great about it! It could have gone so many different ways, and the show definitely punctures the poignancy smartly when the dad asks as an afterthought, "You're sure?" But really, it was just well done all around. One of the few current series that's capable of being genuinely uplifting, you know?

Line of the night: Puck, addressing an opposing teammate. "I had sex with your mother. No, seriously. I cleaned your pool, and then I had sex with her in your bed. Nice Star Wars sheets."

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