Not going to lie: I was a bit skeptical when it came to seeing Ricky Martin on Glee. I mean, don't get me wrong, I was excited to see the heart throb on one of my favorite musical shows and I was all ready with my sombrero, botas, and tacos to watch what I thought would be a fairly stereotypical episode. But what to my wonder, I was gladly surprised to find the opposite to be true. I also had to remind myself how Glee has always talked about various issues that I cared about, including diabetes and LGBTQ topics.
The episode begins with "Glee" reminding us how Will Schuester, Mr. Glee Club himself, is a Spanish teacher, by showing him in a sombrero and singing "La Cucaracha" on none other than, you guessed it, Taco Tuesday. He gets pulled into the principal's office to be told that there had been a complaint filed against him from one of his students. Oh, Mr. Schu! You're so out of touch! So what does he do? He goes to take Spanish classes from, oh yes, you guessed it again: David Martínez. Better known to you as el señor Ricky Martin! ¡Wepa!
Oh, how thrilled I was to see Ricky again! And yes, he is educating his class. A former tooth model, Senor Martínez explains that by the year 2030 everyone will be speaking Spanish, and so those in his class are smart for taking classes. We also find out that Martínez is actually from Ohio (where the show takes place) and his parents are from Chile. And then the Spanish teacher says the one line that wins me over and makes me want to be his student:
I want to help them find their duende.
MELT!!! So Mr. Schu invites Mr. Martínez to Glee club, after finding out that Mr. Martínez likes to sing (duh!) and that his students may just learn Spanish faster by singing in Spanish.
Martínez walks into Glee Club where he explains what duende is by singing "I'm Sexy and I Know It," bilingually of course.
Throughout the show we hear pretty mainstream songs: Gloria Estefan's "Don't Wanna Lose You," the Gypsy Kings' "Bamboleo," Madonna's "La Isla Bonita (a duet with Santana and Mr. Martínez) and embarrassingly enough, Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation," performed horrendously by Schuester with maracas, mariachis, matador outfit, and "bulls!"
You can hear the audio version of the stereotypical performance here:
And after this was where it got GOOD! Santana has a look of disgust on her face while everyone else kind of clapped and didn't really know what to make of Mr. Schuester's performance. When he looks at Santana, he realizes that she's the one who complained about him at the beginning of the show. While Will tries to defend his performance she says, "This is my education." Then comes the full-on blast.
Why don't you dress like the Taco Bell chihuahua and bark the theme song to Dora the Explorer!
YES, SANTANA! That was awesome! She went on to say that the others didn't know enough to be embarrassed by the stereotypes that Will was portraying.
In your face, Will Schuester!
While there were some other things I was confused about, for instance when the boys performed "Bamboleo" wearing those nasty, ugly pointy boots from Matehuala, San Luis Potosí (see below), I was proud that the Latina stood up for herself and her education.
In the end, Schuester offers the Spanish teacher position to Mr. Martínez, who claims it's the American dream for him. "My parents had to lie about their citizenship to go to high school and now I'm teaching it. That's the American dream, right?"
How awesome was it that David Martinez was not an immigrant and he didn't have an accent. Nope, he was like a great many of us: born in the United States to immigrant parents and speaking nothing but Spanish at home.
Once again, "Glee" does good with this situation. As horrendous as it could have been, we were able to hear a bit of bilingualism, learn a few stats (that we Latino Rebels already knew, por supuesto) and got to see SEXY Ricky on television for the night.