Glee Update: Neil Patrick Harris & Lady Gaga
By Andrew Wailes
Above is the promo clip for next week's Lady Gaga-themed episode of Glee, titled "Theatricality." The cast will not only perform renditions of "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance," but they will do it in full Gaga garb. The episode looks to be a high point of the season!
But will it surpass the Aerosmith- and Les Mis-infused excitement of this week's "Dream On" episode? Neil Patrick Harris guest starred in what I think may have been the best episode of the series to date. NPH plays Bryan Ryan, Will Schuester's high school glee club rival. He returns as a member of the school board bent on cutting the glee program. Schuester succeeds in convincing him otherwise and the glee club lives, but not until the two hotties battle it out in a fiery duet of "Dream On."
Also in this episode, we learn that Idina Menzel's character -- she plays a coach for rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline -- is in fact Rachel's biological mother. (Props on this inspired idea, by the way -- the mother-daughter resemblance is uncanny!) The two divas sing a duet of "I Dreamed a Dream" that is, in one word, epic.
The most amusing part of this episode by far was Bryan Ryan's back story, post-high school and pre-school board. He failed as a performer, "found Jesus," and formed a show choir conversion group to save people from the evils of performing. "Show choir kills," he claims. Watching the show, I was immediately reminded of gay conversion groups, but as I know I have a tendency to see gay in everything, I had to watch myself. But then Ryan delivered this glorious line, and I was convinced: "Three times a year I tell my wife I'm going off to a business trip. I sneak out to New York and I see a bunch of Broadway shows. I have a box of Playbills hidden away in my basement...like porn." Hilarious!
Ryan's show-choir-conversion-leader-turned-avid-supporter-of-the-arts story line seems reminiscent of NPH's guest appearance a decade ago on another hit show, Will & Grace. He played Bill, the leader of a gay conversion group called "Welcome Back Home," who was convinced (by Jack, of course) to abandon his ridiculous ways and embrace his true self.
As long as we're talking about Will & Grace, why not bring up that absurd Newsweek article that everyone's been talking about? When we reviewed Promises, Promises a few weeks back, the most favorable things said were about Sean Hayes. His character was not only hilarious and the best part of the show, but also convincing. And despite the amusing gay connection, NPH's Bryan Ryan is also convincing. Of all the actors in Hollywood, NPH is one of the best examples of gay actors who excel at playing straight roles. We at Out discussed this very phenomenon back in August 2008 when we featured this fabulous man on our cover. Playing straight depends on one's talent as an actor. NPH certainly has that talent, along with notable examples Cynthia Nixon (who called the Newsweek article "cruel") and recurring Glee guest star Jonathan Groff (currently featured in our annual "Hot List").
Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee, has called for a Newsweek boycott until a public apology is made, and I'm right there with him. In the meantime, let's rewatch this week's amazing episode as many times as we please as we wait for next week's Gaga explosion. You better believe we'll be covering it as soon as it drops.
And to see our slide show of gay actors who convincingly play straight, head here.