With 6 seasons with 121 episodes and approximately 612 songs covered there is no doubt that Glee has made an impact on both television and the culture that will live on forever. While the show had it’s ups and downs throughout the years and the devastation loss of Cory Monteith who played Finn Hudson it’s the good that the show has done that I will remember the most.
The show has now said goodbye and when looking back at the show, the music and the phenomenon that was Glee you really have to take pause as to the impact that the show had and will have. I was there from day one when FOX did a rare thing in television. They aired the pilot on May 19th 2009 ahead of the fall season. With tons of promotion the pilot was met with both viewers and critical success. I liked the pilot but I think that I had see so many promos for the show that I was not super overwhelmed by the pilot but did like it.
At that years San Diego Comic Con FOX took the show and while I still don’t think that Glee entirely fit at SDCC I was front and center to see what the cast and creators had to say about the show. They showed the second episode “Showmance” and at that moment I saw it. The magic that the show was going to be and how both the stories and the music would change the world. When Lea Michele sang Take A Bow it sent shivers up my spine and I was hooked like everyone else.
I was lucky enough to go to the two live concerts that the cast preformed and they were incredible to see live. The magic of them singing is the one thing that no matter how bad the show got and not all of the songs were winners when the songs worked it was pure magic. Not only did they do current songs but they introduced songs from the past to a whole new generation of kids that would have never heard songs from Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Carole King and many other great artists. I also was able to see them at the next two San Diego Comic Con’s and the two Paley Fest. While I am certainly not in the main demographics of the average Glee viewer the thing that the show did exceptionally well was making you feel like you were a member of the Glee club. No matter if you are a nerd, geek, popular, loner, gay, straight, black, white or the outcast. It was also the talked about lots of real life topics like teen pregnancy, racial issues, gay rights, school shootings, transgender acceptance, and the loss of a loved one. You always had a seat in the choir room no mater what your race, religion, gender, sexual preference or age.
The first three seasons of the show were in hindsight the best the show got. The downfall of the show slowly started to creep in the third season and became a real problem with season four. The thing that unraveled the show was the terrible writing and the lack of focus. If you look back on the first season there was a lot more story than music. The music a lot of times became a crutch for the writers and they sometime relied on it way too often. There were too many themed episodes and repetitive and outrageous and often incoherent stories.
There were two problems that started to sink the show quality wise. First while you don’t want the kids to be in high school forever they didn’t segue way into the new kids very well. Most of the original cast graduated from High School and they threw the new cast into the beginning of season four and the transition was terrible. The viewers hated the new kids and the story lines for the main cast was uninspired and often terrible. The joke became that the New Directions had no direction and the New York plots were very unfocused. While it didn’t save the show having Finn help out with the Glee club had some promise and while the direction of the show was still adrift Finn became the glue that held a lot of the show together.
Then the worst possible thing happened. Cory Monteith passed away and the stories that were to be done for the final two seasons (5 & 6) had to be completely reworked and rethought. The two Beatles episodes were written before Cory’s death and you could see that void that was left in the show. The third episode was The Quarterback to deal with the loss of Finn Hudson from the show. As difficult as it is to watch (I still can’t watch or think about it too much because I start to cry) the saddest part is that it’s the best episode from the final two seasons of the show. The reason is that the show is exceptionally well focused and it really showed that we had not only lost Finn but the heart and soul of the show was no longer going to be there. While Rachel Berry on the surface was the star of the show it was Finn that was the real glue of the show. The only other episodes to note of the fifth season was the 100th episode and the next episode “New Directions” The series then focused on the original cast in New York and simply hit rock bottom creatively.
With the final season cut to 13 episodes the show needed to bounce back and it did somewhat. You can still see threads of the direction that the stories were going to be with Finn Hudson it had some nice moments but the writing was still not gelling 100%
I always felt bad for the new kids that came in at the start of the fourth season. It was to jolting at once and with the stories being all over the place the viewers really came to hate the characters. Even as bad as the show go there were a few times within episodes where you could see what made the show great would peek out but never seem to hold. After the New York part at the second half of the fifth season there seem to be little hope of the show being able to get back the Mojo that it so desperately needed. The sixth and final season started off a lot better and seemed to get back on it’s feet. While the writing was still shaky at times the direction of the show was at least focused enough to have a plan for the season.
While the show never fully recovered creatively but, it found it’s voice just in time for the two part finale. The first part “2009” went back to the beginning to tell the stories behind the story of the pilot episode. It was a chance to go back and see how it all started with more in depth behind the scenes that they were able to tell now. The one thing that was missing was of course Finn. It wasn’t until they sang “Don’t Stop Believin'” with different takes and angles that we view our last glimpses of our beloved Quarterback. The second part “Dreams Come True” show that Will Schuester was given McKinley High School was being transformed into an all arts school and he would become principal. The original cast we get to see a five years later and they all have happy endings. And while Rachel may have married Jesse St. James we know in are hearts and dreams that the real last scene of Glee is:
“Rachel comes back to Ohio, fulfilled and yet not, and walks into Finn’s glee club. ‘What are you doing here?’ he would ask. ‘I’m home,’ she would reply. Fade out. The End.”
While the questions about the quality decline of the show will continue to be debated the one thing for sure is the legacy that the one thing above all that it taught us was to BE YOURSELF! We are also left with a great legacy of music that they show has left us. No matter what you say about the show there is no doubt that the it has had a huge impact on our culture and our heart. We can always go back to McKinley High School anytime with watching our favorite episodes or always listening to the music from the show. Glee was a real lightning in a bottle story and the legacy that it has left will live on for generations to come.