At The Late Night, Double Feature, Pitch Corrected Show

“In just seven days, I can make you a man which is totally cool because now I’m a girl so it’s not gay or anything.”

I can’t tell if last night’s Rocky Horror Glee Show was more of a tribute or a trashing of the cult favorite musical. On one hand it exposed a new generation to Rocky Horror that probably never would have sought it out otherwise (as it has done with Journey and… well probably just Journey), but on the other hand it took the transvestite right out of Transylvania. That’s like Phantom without the opera, Sweeney Todd without the murder pies or Cats without all the terrible songs.

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Some of it was enjoyable (There’s a certain poetry to John “Uncle Jesse” Stamos playing the part originally played by Meatloaf) but I don’t understand the de-gayification of the lead role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. As network TV goes, Glee is about as gay as it gets (which isn’t saying much), but right from the get-go they seemed to be dodging the 800 lb gay-rilla in the room. At first Mr. Shue offers super-gay Kurt the lead which he immediately turns down saying that he doesn’t want to wear the outfit. This is the same super-gay Kurt whose normal attire consists of blouses made from evening gowns and evening gowns made from bras. He dresses like Annie Lennox if she was the First Lady. Yet somehow a bustier and nylons were too out there for him.

Ewok Stare Shirt

Then Mercedes, based on a novel Push by Saphire takes the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter and cannibalizes the lyrics of his signature song. And she does it in such an odd way. Per her lyrics, she is STILL a “transvestive” but she hails from a far less fabulous Transylvania. It’s hard to call it a complete cop out since it was such a confusing choice in the first place.

Anyway, as Wil said, “Dear Guy Who Made Glee: Keep your dirty hands off my Rocky Horror Picture Show, or I will kick you in your nuts. I will do it nine times.”

COMMENTERS: Did you see the episode of Glee in question? What did you think? Do you even still watch Glee? Did you ever?

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106 Comments

  1. I'm so over Glee. It was going downhill fast and this just sealed it for me. If you're going to take the entire plot and idea of the subject because it's on regular TV, then maybe it just isn't the musical to be doing on TV. Instead of slaughtering something, they should have just said "Well, if we can't use the word Tranvestite and we can't make Dr. Frank-N-Furter the sweet gayman that he is, then we're not going to do it on the show."

    Instead, they just half-ass it. Ugh, I am so angry. They're willing to put a gay kid as a main character on the show and deal with his issues, and they're willing to do the same with pregnant teens, but apparently this was too out there for them? Focus on the Family wins again.

  2. Fox will only ever do/say whatever it takes to get viewers and create controversy. They'll push and advertise "specials" like Rocky Horror on Glee, or the Glee kids on the Simpsons (that episode also had the guys from Flight of the Conchords, who had more lines, and got NO mention in the commercial) and look at all the shit the Seth McFarlane cartoons get away with, including insulting the same network that airs the cartoons!

    Basically, the execs at Fox know what they're doing. Manipulating the viewers by selling what they know will get watched, but it's always misrepresented, and usually serves for the shows to fail.

    • You know the Simpsons' episode where the talking Malibu Stacy is given sexist lines ("Let's buy makeup so the boys will like us!" "Don't ask me, I'm just a girl!") and Lisa fights to take it off the shelves?

      According to the commentary, Fox promoted it in TV Guide with the headline, "Next time on The Simpsons, Springfield gets a SEXY new doll!" with a picture of Bart looking up Stacy's dress.

      So yes, the people at the Fox Network are manipulative bastards.

      • "So yes, the people at the Fox Network are m̶a̶n̶i̶p̶u̶l̶a̶t̶i̶v̶e̶ ̶b̶a̶s̶t̶a̶r̶d̶s̶ complete fucktards.

        There, fixed that for ya.

  3. Honestly, it made sense from a realism standpoint. A high-school show choir director most likely would have screwed with the lyrics that way. My wife's high school did Grease, with all kinds of changed lyrics ("the chicks will scream!"). I expect it's very common.

      • He said he IS gay which is why he doesnt need to watch Glee. I believe this was a reference to a previous comic where it was revealed that Glee was a recruitment tool used by the secret gay cabal that runs the country (of which Josh is a member).

        • Stop giving away our secret gay recruitment tools…*stamps foot*
          You're making it so difficult to add to the gay horde!
          Just for that, I summon a new Care Bears movie on your straight selves!

  4. Joel, your thoughts on Rocky Horror Glee pretty much echo mine. Based on preview materials, I wrote the following a couple of days ago:

    Finally, this is a perfect example of Truth 3 – Everything from the margin moves to the center. Rocky Horror started out as a camp musical in the 70s that found enormous success in the counter-cultural community. Today it has been sanitized from a celebration of cross-dressing gay culture into a mass market story of straights playing with gay themes.
    http://www.ralphehanson.com/2010/10/21/rocky-horr

    The Truth 3 I refer to is one of "Seven Truths About The Media" I talk about in my media literacy course.

    • The best made-for-TV adapation of RHPS was on the "Drew Carey Show" IMHO, because if you're from Ohio at all, (get your hands on the right newspaper to use during live performances), the ep where they did their tribute to it reminded me of when we would trash the Student Union auditorium as undergrads during a midnight showing, or go see it in Cleveland many, many years ago.

    • AGREED. It's like the writers just keep dropping what my playwriting teacher would call "one hell of a shit-happens" on the characters in place of having them follow a consistent motivation of any kind. I am displeased.

    • Totally agree, especially this season. More than once I've thought, "This isn't what the character would do naturally in this situation, this is the writers forcing this response." I'm not saying the viewer should deem what a character is like, but when I start having these thoughts at least once an episode, it can't just be me being snippy.

  5. How they make a Glee episode:

    Think of a group of songs, like a star's catalog.

    Create drama around best song.

    Crowbar a story inbetween songs so it's 1/8th plausible (see Madonna episode).

    Hope audience doesn't notice.

    Prof–BAM!

    I can't wait until they do the Smiths. Someone will suicide FOR SURE!

  6. I enjoyed the show overall, though the rewrites in "Toucha" made me wince, and for God's sake, Shu, will you stop having to relearn the same lesson every three weeks or so? Learn from the past!

    • You could ask every character in Glee to get more than a goldfish memory. They cover the same ground over and over and over and over.

      • Since I'm not really a fan of the show (I'm a 'mo, so I don't need the extra indoctrination, thanks), maybe they do that *assuming* their average viewer has alzheimer's and a short attention span?
        Thus, we don't have character development, plot arcs, or any thing that you'd have to remember week to week?

  7. Glee continues to infuriate me at the same time as it amuses me. I don't even know how they do that.I think I wouldn't have minded having Mercedes as Frank N Further if they had gone into the Frank/Janet bits of the show, that *could* have been an interesting switch of the thing. But they didn't.

    Now, if you'll exuse me, I need to rewatch the REAL RHPS.

  8. I dislike musicals in nearly all forms. I like rocky, I hate glee, I'm just not sure why everyone seems to be into it.

    • I am less and less into it with each passing week. All of the character elements that made it a stand out show have been abandoned in favor of worshipping the the theme of the week like its the only music any of them have ever cared about.

  9. I think Mike was supposed to be Franknfurter after Kurt said he wouldn't, but his parents wouldn't sight the permission slip. Which I understand,and it did make me a little sad that they changed the lyrics, but you can't deny that Mercedes rocked it.

    Also, did anyone else get skeeved out when Shue decided he would play Rocky? I mean, he was all going on about how it would be inapropriate if Dr. Carl sang those songs with the kids as Frankenfurter, but that number he did with Emma, would have been performed with Rachel…. ewwww

  10. I have never watched Glee before. It seemed like an unholy union of the two things I hate most in this world: annoyingly upbeat theme park musicals AND the Kidz Bop line of albums.

    The roommates watch it, so I leave the TV room whenever it comes on. Last night, however, I stuck around once I heard Time Warp on a commercial for it. The roommates encouraged me, saying it was a decent show.

    They have since apologized. I don't think I'll ever make that mistake again.

    On the plus side, Jane Lynch is still awesome, no matter what she's in.

    • Yeah, but post Gaga, the taunting from the football team seems to have become more intense, and after previous weeks even getting rebuffed by his father for being too "coming on to people who aren't interested", I can understand the hesitation.

      Alternately, this falls squarely under the "inconsistent characterization" theory.

  11. I fucking hate the show. Last season ended on a sour note for me, and this season has all been downhill. I couldn't even finish last night's episode, and I'm done with the series until 'Mr. Shue' is gone. Everyone else is, if not interesting, at least pretty enough to ignore. But the 'Mr. Shue' character is a fucking whiny-ass bitch, and it permeates every single scene he's in–and even many he's not. "Oh, waah! I have to learn a lesson about jealousy and what it means to be a good person but I'm going to forget next week and do it all over again! WAAAH!" Fucking crybaby-ass dick hole. Shut the fuck up and grow a pair.

    Oh, and I'm not completely convinced that 'Sue' told 'Becky' to go yell at some "fatties," either….

  12. +1

    That's another problem I've had with the show since the beginning. They do almost every song as closely to the producers' inspiration as possible. There's no variation or originality. BORING, and not worth watching.

  13. The only statement I take issue with is that Glee introduced a new generation of kids to Journey. My 19 year old and 14 year old have been singing the crap out of Journey for years now. Glee didn't introduce CRAP as they are just reactive.

    The show just throws in some gay to be edgy now and then.

    I flip back to Fox after Glee to watch Raising Hope.

    • Well, they didnt introduce YOUR kids to Journey but (unfortunately) all of their singles and album collections go to #1 so you have to assume someone out there is getting influenced and potentially turned on to bands they have never heard of.

  14. Never watched Glee – A) I got enough bitchy chorus manouevering when I was actually in high school performance choir to last a lifetime (not to mention sparkly performance outfits and a lingering knee injury) B) All the previews remind me of 'Hooray for Everything' on the Simpsons. C) Haven't they basically taken the yearly play/musical episode of Head of the Class and stretched it out into an entire series?

  15. I saw it… I was prepared for it by the blogosphere, but I watched it anyway just to see the train-wreck. And yeah, as poorly as they handled the religion episode, this one was just plain wrong. I mean, leaving in 'transvestite' in a way that doesn't make sense, cutting out 'transsexual' and yet having the word 'tr*nny' earlier in the script? That's actually getting offensive to me and I'm notoriously hard to offend.

    • I never commented on the religion ep but I found it really offensive. The entire time Kurt was saying "please stop coming to my dying father's room and praying because I dont believe in it and it offends me" and they kept ignoring him and doing it any way because they "knew better" than he did was INFURIATING. What ever happened to respecting someone's wishes? In the end I wondered if the speech (i think it was Mercedes') about "you should just believe in something… anything" was more of a dig at religion than not.

      • I AGREE! That episode irritated the hell out of me. And what is it with portraying every atheist as someone who "lost faith" because of their circumstances instead of someone who just looks at the world through a rational mindset and never believed the bs stories offered to them by religion.

      • Actually, I was mad about the religion episode for another reason… that Kurt's whole stance is "religious people are insensitive bigots" and then immediately calls religious people stupid for having any kind of faith. It just felt like he was being a huge hypocrite.

        I don't know, as someone who does believe in God (from the midwest, even) but whose personal motto is "live and let live", it really pissed me off that the concept of a tolerate religious person never came up.

        ok /endrant.

  16. I watched the pilot, wherin they butchered "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey, & haven't watched them again. As a Bay-Area boy, doing a bad cover of a Journey song is an insult that must be avenged! Not watching "Glee" and discouraging my friends and family from watching is pretty much my vengeance there.

  17. A little research would easily explain why the changes mentioned were made… Perhaps less bitching and more appreciation for the fact that they managed to talk about transvestites on prime time?

    • If I subscribed to your "less bitching… more research" philosophy there wouldnt be any comics on this site for you to comment on.

    • Appreciation for what, exactly? We're supposed to give Fox a medal for using the word Transvestite on prime time? Are you shitting me?

      By which I mean, they didn't deal with anything serious in the show, they just used the word and butchered a cult classic.

  18. I'm a complete sucker for musicals, and work in live theatre for a living. Mostly, I've enjoyed Glee, though when it gets too drama-riffic, I've been known to skip the dialogue (yay DVR). An interview I was reading on it, the guy that plays Curt was saying that they'd initially tried to put him as Frank-n-furter, and much the same as was in the show happened – he wanted Riffraff (which I totally can't blame him for), and I thought Mercedes was quite awesome as Frank. I could have gone with them on a lot of the dramatic choices, but the lyric switches bothered the hell out of me. I know the movie fairly well, so hearing something come out of the actors mouths that was neither accurate lyric, nor shadowcast lyric threw me. Even when I was expecting it.

    One of the things that's bothered me over most of the show comes out of my job, though. You NEVER see any of the stage techs. You see musicians (and I can do suspension of disbelief that they magically know all the music to everything always), but doing a play? There should have been stage manager and set designer and lights and crew and well…. backstage people. The only reason ANY of it got mentioned is because Will still wants to get into Emma's pants. Those lights don't write themselves, yanno….

    • That kind of stuff drives me crazy too. Like how they are always broke and need to raise money for busses but seem to spend $1000's on costumes and sets for every episode including musicals they are only doing for themselves.

  19. "Then Mercedes, based on a novel Push by Saphire takes the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter …"

    Ha ha! I get it! It's funny because all heavy black girls are just alike!

    Seriously, if you're going to whine about privilege, you might want to check your own.

    • "whine about privilege"?
      What?
      If you seriously think the actress that played Mercedes didn't get a call from her agent because Fox was looking for a "fat, sassy black girl" then you are confused. Heavy black girls are just alike when they are on TV. She's a perfect stereotype as are the rest of the cast. Dumb Jock, Jew Princes, Super Gay, Shy Asian, Awkward wheelchair kid, Sassy Black Girl, Dumb Cheerleader, Hispanic girl always making the "Oh no you didnt" face… Its a show of ridiculous, lowest common denominator stereotypes and I dont have a problem with making fun of them.

  20. I didn't watch the episode (I don't get the opportunity to watch a lot of regular TV). While I was happy to hear they were doing Rocky Horror, because I thought – wow, how edgy!, I am sad to hear that it was a watered down version like we would have been forced to perform in high school. Bleh. Even the kids in pretend high school on TV have lame choices for productions, I guess. Poor kids in that poor pretend high school.

    On the other hand, how hilarious would it be to see the looks on the faces of viewers who watched this and then decide to watch the actual RHPS without any prior knowledge. I DO like the idea of that sort of entrapment. <evil grin>.

  21. In general, I’m very sorry I never got into watching Glee. I thought it was going to be another wretched reality talent competition show! By the time I knew otherwise, it was too late to catch up.

    Then something like this happens, The Twitters go nuts, and I’m not sure I should regret my unwatchingness. Perhaps a higher and more fabulous power was looking out for me.

  22. I think theres a little difference in a female playing a male character and changing the actual character from male to female to avoid controversy. Maybe not.

    • Yeah, I've been to several RHPSs where Frank was played by a female actor, but it was a woman playing a man dressed as a woman. It didn't always work (because of the actresses) but there was nothing wrong with it.

      • If I remember right, she did sing something like "I'm not much of a girl" or "much of a woman." Since the original line was "I'm not much of a man," that does imply they changed the character's gender…

        • And see? "I'm not much of a man" where the male character was played by a girl would have been HILARIOUS.

          *Sigh* I heard so much about how awesome Glee was that I checked it out but so far as I can tell it just sucks. Seems to be good at taking awesome songs and laming them right the hell up, though.

  23. DON'T WATCH. Erase it right now and save yourself some heartache (not to mention stomachache and headache). I'm already a viewer lost, but maybe I can save you.

  24. Seeing as how I will be a Magenta this Friday, I'm ashamed and disappointed at the fact that Santana didn't put a hairdryer down Brittany's shirt.

    And the fact that my friends and I didn't get a change to yell "Seig Heil" since Dr. Scott didn't say a damn thing.

    They didn't even finish "Dammit Janet" and chose the most boring song in the entire movie to start the show off with.

    But I still kind of liked it.

  25. To start with, I'm divided about Glee. I would be the type to get angry about its stereotypical characters and awful character growth, except it's a mainstream teenager-geared show on FOX during primetime. I never have any high (or medium) expectations for these programs. All those bad traits are just part of the genre now–to me, complaining about them is like complaining that heavy metal is too heavy and loud or punk rock is too fast and simplistic. I only ever started watching Glee out of curiosity when I heard that it had an openly gay main character. Now it's just light entertainment to give me something to alternately bitch about or defend.

    As for this episode, what most annoyed were the lyric changes, mostly because they seemed completely fucking pointless. I mean, in Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me they changed "seat-wetting" to "bed-fretting", "rub you down" to "drop you down", "if anything grows (giggle)" to "if anything shows (giggle)", and countless others. They all have basically the same damn meaning! Why change it to the same thing? Although, changing "transsexual" to "sensational" (or "sin-sational" apparently, which I guess might have been implied in the way she emphasized "sin", but you're only going to pick up on that if you already know it) was probably an effort to be politically correct. I'm fairly certain transsexual now exclusively applies to people who undergo gender reassignment surgery, which Frankenfurter did not. Of course, it makes no sense to be so PC in an episode about the ethics of pushing boundaries using Rocky Horror Picture Show, a play about crossdressing transvestite promiscuous aliens who are manufacturing a sex slave, as a vessel, but again, it's just part of the genre to me. You may as well be expecting logic and great storytelling from American Idol, Family Guy, and [teenage soap opera].

    (One final thought to this wall of text. If they wanted Sassy Black Fat Girl to wail Sweet Transvestite, why not just ditch the movie version and go for the much more wail-friendly Anthony Stewart Head version? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Uq2vaP2cLU )

    • I didn't watch this week's episode, so I might be wrong, but why do an episode like this if you are going to change sooo much about it.

      Also, read my comic a few comments below… because the Britney Spears episode was far more raunchy than what RH could have been.

  26. As a girl who plays Frank in an actual shadow cast I would just like to say: it does not bother me that Mercedes played Frank, it bothers me that they can do so much other stuff in the show, but they cannot put the real lyrics on the show? They can say “bitch” they can go around dressedup like Spears. They have the stereotypical whores of the school have sex with someone new ev ery week. Yet they have to change the lyrics? THAT PISSES ME OFF!

  27. That's what I don't get. I mean I see jokes at the expense of transsexuals all the time. Men having to dress up as women to hide or trick someone being the cliche one. Why should anything on RHPS be to bad for tv when gay men have been acceptable on TV for about 15 years now. People need to grow the fuck up.

    • I wrote about it a few comment below, but I can't believe they did the sexy in a creepy way Britney episode but they made changes to this? I just don't understand it.

  28. But remember, in the original, Frank also bedded Janet. Therefore, if Mercedes played Frank as a woman, she'd have bedded Janet, making her at least bisexual!

  29. If my "love" for Rocky Horror could be killed by Fox, it couldn't be love. I might not even be like. I don't watch Glee, but I made the effort for this one episode and enjoyed it. The plot was cute and the OCD teacher is hot. What changes were made seemed small and inconsequential.

  30. Was anyone else bothered by the fact that the /glee/ club was putting on a production that should have been handled by the drama or theater club? As a longtime theater student, I found that lumping together a bit perturbing.

    Also the fact that they were able to put together a show like that on such a whim. Does not happen.

    • Not bothered by it because through the (minimal) plot development over the past season+, we've learned the arts budget has been cut, and there may or may not be a drama department anymore. Plus I don't think it's completely impossible for a club like theirs to put put on their own production, even if there was a drama club production.

    • I laughed when they decided to put the show on, just for no audience. Brilliant, guys. Just forget that bus-fund plan. Enjoy paying for all those costumes and set pieces with no ticket sales.

    • Agreed! especially with all the to-do with rachel joining the musical last season?
      I was a theatre student and now a theatre professional and having the glee kids take over my territory was the first thing in this episode that pissed me off. and then it just got worse and worse and worse…
      I used to love glee, and now it just sucks.

  31. So they can put teenage characters dressed up in Britney Spear's sluttiest costumes (and have their teacher grind dancing with them in front of the school), but they can't mention transgender when its the whole point of the musical they're doing?

    I am glad I didn't catch this week's episode… I'm seriously looking interest in that show and fast. I'm probably in the minority, but go back to showtunes and non-convoluted plots.

  32. I'm kinda torn. I do believe they've done too many "theme" episodes recently, but I also believe I'm in the minority here, and enjoyed this episode. I don't hold anything up as a "holy grail" that can never be changed or altered (including Rocky Horror), and I figured going in that this show would at least attempt to maintain the realism that they are in a high school. I figured nobody was going to end up dressing up as Frankenfurter, and at most, they would have a non-dress rehearsal version of his songs. I think the logic it followed, in why they couldn't do this or that, worked. A high school definitely wouldn't allow a scene-for-scene production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show to happen.

  33. Gonna be honest, Glee is one of those shows I watch, but don't tell any of my friends. Even my boyfriend has virtually no clue why I don't pick up my phone from 8-9 pm on Tuesdays. I can't help it. Some people torture themselves by loving Top Model or Jersey Shore, I have Glee. I can hate myself a little less than others, I guess.

  34. I don't like musicals….I can't f***ing stand high-school dramas….In short, I've never watched glee, and never plan to. When I saw the commercial for the Rocky Horror episode, I nearly cried. I love rocky horror and I knew damn well they would do something horrible to it. I'm very glad I didn't watch it.

  35. I thought "Glee" did a pretty good job, considering the limit of it being a somewhat family show. Before seeing the episode I was wondering how the heck the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" could be made appropriate for a high school show, but that in fact turned out to be the very issue of the episode.

    Also, I am so glad they didn't make Kurt Frank-N-Furter. For goodness sakes, gay people are not required to play gay parts! (Also, that actor plays a kick-ass Riff-Raff.)

    And I didn't mind Mercedes as Frank-N-Furter. As I understand, that character is often played by a woman, and seeing as there was no way anyone could've lived up to Tim Currey's performance, it was probably best for them to take it a different route anyway.

    But yes, the "sensational Transylvania" reeks of network censorship. (They probably would've changed the word "transvestite" too if it hadn't been the title of the song.)

  36. I have always thought that Glee was two shows. A musical drama set in a high school and as a comedy for those who can see that it doesn't take itself seriously. As a comedy, I thought the episode was entertaining. It made me laugh several times, mission accomplished Glee

  37. I have to say this. I didn't mind Mercedes playing Frankenfurter, it irked me a little, but what REALLY got me was when she sang my FAVORITE song with soul. That song is not supposed to have soul in it. >.< Bring back my Tim Curry, damn it!

    And during time warp when Quinn was playing Magenta, her voice was way too………. sweet for the part. However, Kurt played an AMAZING Riff Raff. Made me head to youtube to watch all of my favorite songs over and over again. <3

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