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GLEE: A Review of "Britney/Brittany"

The Britney Spears tribute episode was smarter than expected.
By: Miriam Cross
Published: October 4th, 2010 in Culture » TV » Reviews
Brittany S. Pierce and Britney SpearsPic: file

Despite no plot, no coherent theme and a non-stop barrage of Britney Spears music videos, this was one of the more enjoyable Glee episodes in months.

It’s hard to say why: Britney Spears seems an odd choice for a musical tribute, especially in comparison to the far more iconic music of Madonna, who was the first to be honoured with a tribute episode. And the premise for these musical tributes – the kids all hallucinate Britney Spears music under the influence of dental anesthesia? – was one of the weakest yet (and for Glee, that’s saying something). The idea seems to be that Britney Spears music symbolizes empowerment and a losing of inhibitions, but I don’t see how the same couldn’t be said of countless other pop lyrics.

Still, much of the credit for making Britney/Brittany such goofy fun goes to Heather Morris, who may not have a spectacular voice, but whose flawless dance moves, vacant stares and pitch-perfect delivery of Brittany’s ditzy lines make her one of the most entertaining characters on the show. “My name is Britney Spears,” she announces to the club early on, but for once she has a real explanation: her middle name is Susan and her last name is Pierce, making her full name Britney S. Pierce. “I’ve lived my entire life in Britney Spears’ shadow,” she laments, and sides with Will in refusing to sing Britney Spears at the school’s homecoming assembly.

That reluctance quickly disappears with her first hit of nitrous oxide (courtesy of Emma’s new dentist boyfriend, who visits glee club for a teeth-cleaning seminar), and Brittany’s newfound confidence makes her think she’s the most talented member of glee club. As usual, Morris nails lines that wouldn’t work on anyone else. (What exactly is a “Jewish cloud”?)

Emma’s handsome boyfriend/dentist, Carl (John Stamos) is introduced as a viable alternative to Will, and it’s easy to see why Emma would be attracted to both men it’s also easy to see why she’s chosen Carl for now. In the show’s other major relationship, Rachel and Finn’s union has grown on me since last season. Even if their fights and make-ups feel a little too pat, their insecurities feel true to their characters and reflect the rough spots of a fledgling relationship.

Finally, this episode did an excellent job of integrating its real-life star – Britney Spears – in three funny, bizarre and understated cameos, and the episode as a whole is full of great little moments (think the football bullies backing off Finn when Artie wheels in between). For girls especially, there’s a pang of nostalgia in Rachel’s declaration that “we all grew up” on Britney Spears. The Madonna tribute episode may have been a tough act to follow, but perhaps in the case of Britney/Brittany, low expectations served the show well.

Glee airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on Global/FOX.

Related articles: television, glee, britney brittany, heather morris, lea michele, britney spears
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