A Farewell to GLEE
If you’ve been following my Glee reviews, then you know I have some serious issues with the show. Its inconsistent plots, poor character development, contradictory character choices and lack of direction have plagued me for months during this final season and I’ve been looking forward to the finale with….well, with glee. I was ready for it all to end, to put me out of my misery and let the show finally end.
Forget all that. The two hour finale was a testament to what Glee is about, to the legacy it has, to the lives it has changed, and to its place in TV history. It was truly about love at the end. The love these characters have for each other, and the love they have for music.
The first hour, “2009”, took us back to before the show began. Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) has decided to restart the Glee Club at McKinley High. Naturally, Rachel Barry (Lea Michele) wants to sign up, and after being told he has to join a “team” by his dad, so does Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer). Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) signs up as well, wanting to become a star at school like she is at church. Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale) and Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz) sign up as a dare, but the five of them become the intrepid performers we fell in love with during the pilot six years ago.
The rest of “2009” deals with them interacting and fighting in the Glee Club as the events of the pilot swirl around them: Will’s wife’s “pregnancy”; Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) joining, quitting, and rejoining the Glee Club; and the beginning of the rivalry between Will and Coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch). This all leads up to the scene where the five original members of the Glee Club all raise their hands to vote that Finn stay in the Glee Club. And just as Will is about to quit, he goes to the auditorium and sees the six teens performing “Don’t Stop Believing”, and the rest is history.
That’s where the tears start. Not with Rachel and Kurt singing a duet version of “Popular” from Wicked, not with Mercedes being told by a church leader that she will be a star and she and Rachel will become best friends, but when they showed the original footage from the pilot: The full original performance of “Don’t Stop Believing”, red shirts and all. With Finn.
From there the tears didn’t stop. There was no commercial break between the episodes, so we rolled right into present day with the second hour “Dreams Come True”. The new New Directions win Nationals, and McKinley becomes a Performing Arts High School, with Will as the principal. So Will has to say goodbye to running the Glee Club with a moving performance before we learn that Sam (Chord Overstreet) will be the new coach of The New Directions.
We then move to find out what happens to each of the main cast. Mercedes leaves to be the opening act for Beyonce before cutting her own record and taking her own world tour. Blaine (Darren Criss) and Kurt become big time producers on Broadway as they prepare to have their first child, with Rachel as the surrogate. Artie is a screenwriter and director and Tina is his leading lady, both on and off screen. And Rachel wins her first Tony Award for a musical directed by Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff), also her husband.
Finally, the auditorium at McKinley is dedicated to Finn in the year 2020 by Sue, the current Vice President of the United States of America (of course). To celebrate, (almost) all of The New Directions throughout the years perform together. Artie, Rachel, Mercedes, Will, Kurt, Blaine, Tina, Mike, Puck, Quinn, Santana, Brittany, Jake, Sam, Joe, Kitty, Unique, Madison, Mason, Lauren, Myron, Spencer, Jane, Roderick, Ryder, Alistair, Sugar and even Emma, Terri, Sheldon, Becky, Sue, Figgins, Burt and Carole all join onstage to send the show off the best way it could possibly go. As a tribute of love.
Glee wasn’t perfect. There were entire seasons that could have been mined for the best moments and songs, but at the end of the day, it is a show that changed television. Without Glee, there would probably not have been Smash, Nashville, Galavant, or Empire. It was the first show to show that music could be an important, integral, and essential part of television, and not just as background music.
And beyond that, Glee took issues that were danced around for years and put them on primetime. Sexuality, abuse, addiction, transgender issues, disability, politics, relationships, marriage, acceptance, tolerance, love. Glee strove to teach these things, and just by the virtue of being loved by a younger generation, the message may have gotten across, especially because the show is ultimately about one thing: Love. That was the thing I was struck by throughout the episodes. It was clear, especially during “Dreams Come True”, that the actors didn’t need to act when they were saying goodbye. They were really feeling it. And this show is about how much the characters love each other. Will and Rachel. Sue and Becky. Rachel and Finn. Will and Sue. Kurt and Blaine. Tina and Artie. Santana and Brittany. Will and Emma. Rachel and Mercedes. Mercedes and Sam. The list goes on. These characters love. And love is what matters.
Glee wasn’t a perfect TV show, and it wasn’t always a good one, but it was an important one. And it did have the potential to be truly great. If every episode had been like these two, or like the pilot, or like “The Quarterback”, it would have been listed among the greatest shows of all time.
That said, this was one of the best series finales I’ve ever seen. I’ve given Glee a hard time. But after watching those last two hours, I can honestly say: I’m going to miss this show.