Jane Lynch Helps ‘Glee Project’ Contestants Tackle ‘Fearlessness’

Jane Lynch on The Glee Project (Oxygen)

For an episode with such an exciting theme—Fearlessness—this week’s “Glee Project” was fairly lackluster. No major contender-judge conflicts, no shocking upsets or eliminations (only a minor Bottom 3 screwup I’ll get to later).

But there were a couple of exceptions to the boring undertones, the first being guest mentor Jane Lynch. The fact that she often plays dry, foul-mouthed, and/or downright mean characters makes it twice as enjoyable that her real-life personality could not be more sweet, charming, or enthusiastic. She was completely worthy of the bigger-than-usual freakout from the contenders upon seeing the week’s mentor.

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“Anything you feel fear about, turns out to be the best moments in your life,” she advised. “I am surging with caffeine and fear even as I speak.”

She was then subjected to the confused mess that was the homework performance of Heavy D & The Boyz’ “Now That We Found Love.” No one met the level of supreme dopeness we get from an Artie or Mr. Schue rap. And the choreography… oh, the choreography. There was a line of shaking butts and frantic jazz hands. I’ve never been more appreciative of Zach Woodlee in my life. And that’s saying something, because I thank the universe daily for giving us Captain Adorable.

Catch Up on Last Week’s Episode of “The Glee Project”:

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Anyway, Jane Lynch has the single most encouraging manner of delivering criticism ever, thus no one seemed crushed when they received their usual notes (namely that Michael and Nellie should stop being so reserved).

She picked the “fabulous” and attention-demanding Lily as the winner of the mentoring sesh. I hope for Lily’s sake that the editors chose to air her least interesting question about the very basics of acting and that most of their one-on-one discussion centered on the much more pertinent topic of exactly how fun it was to work with those dogs in “Best in Show.”

The video shoot, despite being this year’s epic slushie battle, was also pretty tame. Maybe Season One’s contenders were wimpier than I originally thought, but these guys were kind of “meh” about the whole thing compared to the many traumatic reactions we got last year. Maybe that’s partially because the featured bully this time was Rick the Stick instead of Dave Karofsky. Rick wasn’t even close to his typical level of gleeful jerkitude. His powers much lie in his mullet, which was glaringly absent from the back of his neck.

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The slushie tossing did create one of the other more engaging moments of the episode when Ali pleaded to be allowed to get slushied like everyone else. Apparently her body doesn’t react well to extreme temperatures and she would be out of her chair and unable to move away if needed.

She took the pelting well until she was suddenly sobbing and overwhelmed, which she covered with weak laughter as she was carried to a warmer spot. The whole scenario could have seemed like it was designed for a cheap emotional reaction from the audience. But when she later explained to the confession cam that she tried to laugh to avoid seeming like she had failed, it was a sincere moment that provided a rare glimpse of humanity on a cable competition show.

The vocals and staging of the mash-up of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “One Way or Another” were a little ho-hum except for stuff in the pool. I was impressed with how easy the contenders made underwater lip-syncing look.

At callback time, Lily and Ali were declared the MVPs of the video shoot. Shanna, Blake, and Abraham were also unceremoniously awarded gold stars of safety and quickly exited.

Looking at the row of doomed contenders remaining, I felt that Aylin didn’t fit. It was not her strongest showing, but the other three struggled multiple times throughout the week.

Then Michael got a callback! I imagined a collective “Huh?” in living rooms everywhere.

I mean, I guess he’s cuter and carries a tune better than your average calculus nerd. But in a group of your average young Hollywood triple threats—just the average ones, not even the standouts who’ve actually been cast on “Glee” already—he would fade into the background. I sympathize with his struggle to not overthink everything, but the truth is so far he has done nothing remotely memorable enough to either kickstart a legit entertainment career or to at least be a satisfyingly hateable reality TV villain.

But Aylin fans should be grateful that Michael’s save landed her in the Last Chance Rounds, because Zeus had some words for her that could be the key motivation for her to push herself to win this thing, or at least go down fighting.

Her issue this week was a lack of focus that led to giggling while being slushied that led to Ryan saying she didn’t need to be rooted for. And we all know that’s the biggest sin in Gleeland, Kingdom of Underdogs. After her decent-not-great performance of Rihanna’s “Take A Bow,” Ryan said he thought she could be a game changer, since girls like her (presumably outspoken flirtypants types from conservative Muslim families) aren’t heavily represented on TV. But first she had to become a strong and vulnerable leading lady. But she was safe.

Nellie and Charlie both performed Aylin under the table on the Last Chance stage, but this only served as a reminder that their voices and charisma are potentially more suited for live singing than acting on a TV musical dramedy.

Nellie, who only thought rapping was the most uncomfortable thing possible for her to do during the homework session, was extra self-conscious shooting the video in a swimsuit, and it caused her to retreat further inward and tried Erik’s patience on set.

After she nailed “If I Were a Boy,” Zach told her he loved her and thought she was amazing but was getting tired of having to constantly reassure her of that. Ryan agreed when he said it was like they were having to ask her to be on “Glee” instead of her fighting to be on it.

Meanwhile, Charlie gave another energetic and sparkling performance. He changed most of the lyrics to “It’s Not Unusual” to be simultaneously self-deprecating and self-promoting and to appeal to Ryan specifically. There’s no doubt he’s entertaining, but he remained a nightmare on set and in the studio this week. Although Ryan admitted to feel “sold” on Charlie every time he talked in these Bottom Three sessions, he realized it was finally time to cut him loose.

So Nellie survived again. But it’s only likely to get flashier and louder, and subsequently more intense for her, as we head into “Theatricality” next week.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.


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