The night we’ve all been waiting for finally arrived. No, not turkey day, but Gaga’s anticipated Thanksgiving Special. Would Mother Monster do something avant-garde with a turkey (perhaps some sort of Jesus/Crucifixion performance)? Would she be so naked grandma and grandpa would be scandalized? Is Gaga a cranberry sauce from scratch or straight out of the can sort of gal?
In the end, we got a tamer Gaga for A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, kicking off with a retro-glam duet with Tony Bennett on “The Lady Is A Tramp.” Bennett calls Gaga “America’s Picasso” and the entire special continues in this vein, pointing out how she’s a visionary, and how important her family and private life is to Gaga, just as much as her artistry and her fans are to her, in a different way. The special, filmed at the New York private school of her childhood, also features Gaga making glitter turkey art with young female students, leading them in an a capella rendition of the start of “Born This Way” that morphs into her lounge-version performance in a dress that, if she turns at just the right angle, becomes an optical illusion where her breasts appear barely covered.
She transitions from the dance-heavy track to two piano ballads in a row, “You and I” and “Edge of Glory.” For both, guests are eating their Thanksgiving dinners off her piano as Gaga sings and tells stories about the inspirations for her songs. We break from singing so Gaga can fake-cook fried turkey and waffles with chef Art Smith. It may be a little awkward, but we’d totally watch a Gaga cooking show on the regular. It’s back to songs with Gaga dressed in a Snow Queen, white drape number doing her best Barbara Streisand, sitting in an outdoor alcove to sing “White Christmas,” complete with newly written verse because she’s Gaga and she can do that. To harken to her jazz roots she performs “Orange Colored Sky,” before switching outfits again and heading back to the piano for Hair.” Fort he tribute to embracing your individuality Gaga performs with a pile of wigs that she randomly places onto her head, and invites one of her dancers to perform an interpretive dance for the finale verse.
That and “Bad Romance” are possibly the only glimpses of truly out-there Gaga we get in the hour and a half special. For the latter she’s in a red flowing jumpsuit, weaving the iconic dance moves around the lounge space and eventually picking up handfuls of mashed potatoes from diners places and noshing mid-lyrics. Unfortunately it’s back to demure Gaga for her brief interview with Katie Couric, during which she stresses the importance of her privacy and her love of her family and former school. She finishes up with a brief section of “Marry The Night” before we get a silhouetted tableau of her family and a goodbye from the queen herself. Over the credits we finally get a look at the upcoming Marry music video, which from what we see seems extremely Fame inspired.
All-in-all, a lot of Gaga to digest for Thanksgiving. In her quest to explain herself to the American public we’re not sure if they’re getting the full picture, but it’s definitely a picture that makes you think twice about Gaga if you were still in the camp of writing her off as a flash in the pan. Plus the highlight was a charming story about how Tony Bennett has seen Gaga naked. All 90 minutes were worth it for that mental image.