Glee: "Diva Off" Shocker Pits Mercedes Against Rachel


On tonight’s Glee two severely underused characters finally got their own storyline: Mike Chang and Mercedes. While we learned that Mike can do more than perform incredible dance moves and make excessive references to the fact that he and he and Tina are Asian, Mercedes might have been better off with her usual two lines of dialogue.

Mike’s parents, who we met for the first time, are set on him getting into Harvard. After he gets an A-, or an “Asian F” they become concerned that he’s too focused on Tina and glee club to keep his grades up. They hire a tutor for Mike, but he blows off the meeting to audition for the role of Riff in West Side Story. Later his mom finds him dancing in a rehearsal room at school and tells him she supports his dream of becoming a performer, because she wanted to dance and her parents wouldn’t let her. Harry Shum Jr. is great in these scenes, but since Mike’s mom had a convenient change of heart by the end of the episode, it seems like he’ll be back to lurking in the background in future episodes.

Still, with about 15 minutes of screen time in this episode, we now know way more about Mike’s background than Mercedes’, even though she’s been on the show since episode one. Rather than exploring Mercedes’ character, we get the 52nd “diva-off” between her and Rachel, and more broad stereotypes. While it’s usually hard to beat Rachel for obnoxiousness, several scenes painted Mercedes as a lazy brat with an attitude problem. She shows up late to “booty camp” rehearsal and gives up after doing a half a dance move. She rejects Rachel’s attempts to be civil during their callbacks for Maria, and later informs Mr. Schue and the rest of the kids that she’s “outgrown” them.

This triggers a Dreamgirls fantasy sequence. After watching All My Children for 15 years, I’m fully qualified to diagnose a TV pregnancy, but even though Mercedes says she feels sick several times and performs a song Effie sings while pregnant, Amber Riley says they aren’t doing another teen pregnancy storyline.

Rachel and Mercedes are double cast as Maria, but Mercedes refuses to accept the role and quits New Directions to join Shelby’s glee club (this isnt’ that concerning, since Santana is already back in the club after being booted last week). Mercedes is right about being unfairly overlooked in favor of Rachel throughout the series, but this episode made it seem like she brought it on herself.

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