Thank heavens for NeNe Leakes. After the insanity that was last week's school shooting, Glee owed us an episode that wouldn't piss off half the country. Tonight we got that in "Sweet Dreams," a little number that sent Finn off to college and Rachel into Broadway auditions.
But it was The Real Housewives of Atlanta star who actually made us laugh in an episode that was long on angsty existentialism and short on the fun stuff that makes us watch Glee.
We got a little "Harlem Shake" and a relatively raucous rendition of the Beastie Boys' "You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party," but most of the "Sweet Dreams" episode was pretty heavy stuff. Would Rachel finally get the chance to reprise Barbra Streisand's iconic Fanny Brice role on Broadway (maybe)? Would Finn figure out he needs to buckle down at college (it looks like it)?
Granted, both storylines could lead us somewhere good, but there just wasn't much exciting going on.
And the antics back in the choir room were so strange, they bordered on stupid. Sam is now pretending he has an identical twin brother named Evan Evans, and he transitions back and forth between the two characters? Tina has moved on from being in love with her gay best friend to a steam-punk phase? And they still want us to believe that Brittany, Lima's resident village idiot, got a perfect score on her SATs?
It's episodes like these that make you wonder if the critics aren't right. Are they trying too hard to be different?
But then, in the middle of it all, was NeNe.
Her character, fast-talking, wise-cracking swim coach Roz Washington, has had it out for Sue Sylvester since she first laid eyes on her in early 2012. Now that Sue's lost her job for bringing a gun to school (or at least saying she did to cover Becky's behind), Roz has moved in as head of the Cheerios and brought her attitude along with her.
NeNe's loud mouth is exactly what we needed to drown out all the nonsense.
Like Sue, Roz can get away with saying things to the kids that no one else on the McKinley staff could -- because she's not supposed to be a friendly, supportive teacher type. She's bossy and more than a little bit bizarre.
But that's what keeps things interesting. The writers clearly want to play up the quirky with the odd directions they're sending the teenagers in, but it doesn't work for them. Sam's multiple personalities were just dumb; even the other kids though so. And Tina supposedly figured out that she's better off playing it straight several seasons back.
They'd be wise to just let the kids be kids, and allow someone like NeNe who has ample sass to back up the kooky to take over. She has all the crazy this show needs, but she has the strong personality it takes not to get lost in it.
Rumor has it Jane Lynch has been in contract negotiations for the Sue role, and NeNe has said she'd gladly stick around to fill her shoes.
Let me be the first to beg the powers that be to keep 'em both.
What do you think of NeNe on Glee? Should they keep her around?
Image via Fox