The final episode of the final season of, Glee. “Good riddance” might be the knee jerk response for many after tonight’s airing of the series finale. Yeah sure, maybe some of that ire is well earned. Season 4 anyone? But here’s the thing to keep in mind: even if you have a cactus where your heart should be, and absolutely hate musicals, there’s no denying the impact Glee has had over their 6 epic seasons. Teen pregnancy, bullying, self-esteem, tolerance, friendship, sex, an array of LGBT issues, failure, success, death, love, domestic abuse, drugs and I am literally not exaggerating when I say the list goes on. The one and only time a show like this has existed ever in the history of television was the 1980’s drama, Fame. Well, two, if you count Kid’s Incorporated (which I will because I freaking loved that show!).
When it comes down to it, Glee was more than a phenomenon, it was a ground breaker for many musical shows on today. Empire is a perfect example of this. The season finale of Empire, aka the fastest and most watched new show EVER, had at least four instances where characters broke out in song. Probably the most “Glee-like” moment was between Jamal and Lucious as they worked through Lucious’ writer’s block by, you guessed it, singing a FIERCE (snap!) duet. I don't know that there is an Empire without their first having been a Glee. Still on the fence? Okay, Empire is about a musical family struggling with the ruthlessness of the world and each other to be at the top and stay there. Glee, is about a bunch of outsiders with talent who come together to form a family that fight with and for each other against all the odds and sing their way to the top. No, the haters are right, nothing at all in common there.
The creators’ of the show were immensely fortunate to have found the talent that they cobbled together for the first season of Glee. I don’t think there is any doubt that, Lea Michele (Rachel Berry), was the linchpin of this awesome experiment. No question that her talent went a looooong way to legitimizing this show. One misstep and the show wouldn’t have lasted one season, let alone six. Let’s face it, watching an hour long show about teenagers who breakout in song every other scene or two can be a hard thing to swallow. Even for the most die hard of musical fans. The creators' got that and infused the show with heaping spoonful’s of self-deprecating snark and outrageous comedy. They also saw fit to create a nemesis in one, Coach Sue Sylvester (played brilliantly by Jane Lynch). Making her one of the most unapologetically offensive characters on television, was a stroke of genius. On Glee, evil was not only implied but ruthlessly acted out and on teenagers no less! One hundred percent the show is more comedy than drama, but to sell short its dramatic poignancy, is to really miss the heart of what Glee is and has been for the past six years.
Yet, I would agree, there is some truth to the idea that perhaps the show should have ended after the third season when the kids graduated from High School. They certainly didn’t handle the storylines of the characters, old and new, very well and boy did it show. The new crop of glee kids were talented and for the most part, likeable. Unfortunately, we’d already fallen in love with their predecessors and recreating the magic proved to be an insurmountable task. But it was the shocking death of a beloved character and actor, Cory Monteith (Finn Hudson) that marked the shows march toward their final curtain call.
This sixth and final season has been about the best since season three. Episode after episode has reminded us about the things we loved most about the show and more importantly, everything we’re going to miss. America, there’s just not enough tolerable cheese in network television anymore! Everything is so dark and intense and serious! Even the straight comedies haven’t been awesomely funny in a while now (Yeah, I’m talkin to you, Mindy and New Girl!).
So here at the end, I’ll say one final goodbye and thank you, for one of the sweetest love letters to the arts that has ever been written. May we always cherish your song.