Last Friday, Gleeks everywhere said goodbye to Mr. Schue and the glee club at McKinley High with what could only be described as one of the nicest finales ever written – ironic from a show that was often catty in its comedy. It nostalgically went back to the very beginning to fill in some long-standing holes, and then skipped forward to the future so that everyone knew that the kids were all right. Glee said goodbye with a great big hug to everyone.
After a lot of ups and downs over six seasons, many viewers held mixed emotions about the show. Some even called for creator Ryan Murphy to pull the plug back in Season Four. But I was there in the beginning when it premiered in May 2009. So I had to experience its final moments too.
Glee was ground-breaking and annoying. It was musical theatre and comedy and drama. It was surprising and sometimes disappointing. It trashed classic songs for some viewers and opened up new genres that others would have never otherwise heard.
Most importantly, it made it okay – no great – to be different.
It was regularly rude, sometimes offensive and occasionally broke our hearts to make a point. It had frank discussions with viewers on topics most shows barely touched.
You could call it preachy at best – overbearing at its worst. There were weekly lessons about love and social acceptance. And yet, nobody was safe from its sharp and comedic barbs – not even the writers themselves.
And it gave us some fabulous one-liners. “I think my cat’s been reading my diary.” (Brittany)
“I won't be burying any hatchets, William, unless I happen to get a clear shot to your groin.” (Sue)
“I can’t get Rachel out of my head. She kind of freaks me out in a Swimfan kind of way, but she can really sing, and her body is smoking—if you’re not really into boobs.” (Finn)
It was like that once-favourite song you loved to hear all day, everyday until suddenly you couldn’t stand anymore but then years later, get all nostalgic about on Throwback Thursdays.
Glee was often polarizing. You either loved it or hated it. Or pretended not to watch for fear that someone might drag you into a debate about a recent episode that might reveal you’re not really just a “special occasions” kind of viewer.
But debates happened. In its tenure, Glee covered teen pregnancy, suicide, homophobia, bullying, sexual and gender identity, physical and sexual abuse, adoption, drugs, OCD, death, dyslexia, eating disorders, school shootings, standardized testing, racial stigmas, combined families, and the general icky-ness of growing up. All with a musical beat.
Glee was not always consistent, not always completely satisfying. But on the whole, it tried to do something new and leave the world a better place than it found it. And I think it succeeded.
So thanks, Mr. Schuester, Ryan. And a big hug right back at ya!