The holidays hit the halls of McKinley High on last night's "A Very Glee Christmas," finding Finn on a crusade to spread some seasonal cheer, Sue on a Grinch-like mission to rig the staff Secret Santa exchange, and Artie channeling Miracle on 34th Street when he discovers how truly childlike his girlfriend really is ("Yes, Brittany, there is a Santa Claus.").
To help make sense of the episode, we have a panel of musical theater and pop culture buffs—Meghan Brown, Patrick Burns, and Kevin Fallon—to provide their takes on how realistic the show feels, how well the romances develop, and of course, how good the musical numbers are.
Here's what they had to say:
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Meghan Brown (co-founder of the Giraffe Hunt Theater in Los Angeles): Disclaimer: I have huge sappy feelings for Christmas TV in general, and this week's episode of Glee was no exception. There were carols! And Santa hats! And Jane Lynch was the Grinch and stole all the presents but in the end New Directions sang the Whoville song, and through the power of music CHRISTMAS WAS SAVED!
(OK, so maybe I'm getting a little carried away...)
Kurt's sweetly sexy duet with Blaine was near-perfect, moving their inevitable romance forward a few millimeters. Though the message behind "Baby It's Cold Outside" is a little fishy ("Heading home? Here, have some SPIKED PUNCH with your coercion!"), the vocals and choreography gave Chris Colfer and Darren Criss a real chance to shine.
I feel supreme ambivalence about Brittany's recent rise to prominence. Heather Morris is hilarious and incredibly talented, but I'm not sure how many more "look how dumb yet kind-hearted Brittany is" plotlines I can take. Last week it was a magic comb, this week it was Santa Claus. Next week it's the Easter bunny? More dancing, less believing in things that aren't real.
Kevin Fallon (writer and producer for The Atlantic's Culture channel): "A Very Glee Christmas" fits right in with the season's other holiday offerings. It made Christmas seem horribly lonely and depressing (thanks, Rachel, strolling through fake flurries in your sad Mary Tyler Moore hat). It captured the season's omnipresent romance ("'Baby It's Cold Outside' was romantic, right? Or was it just creepy?). In its effort to touch on every Christmas cliche, the episode even restaged one of the most famous holiday stories of all time, The Grinch. And just like all the Whos down in Whoville saved the day by singing out their indomitable Christmas spirit, those spunky New Directions kids caroled their way to a salvaged holiday.