No longer ‘glee’-ful
Fox’s former flagship program loses steam as tragedy, bad writing strike
When Fox’s “Glee” returns to the airwaves this fall, the question on everyone’s mind will be how the writers will handle the surprise death of star Cory Monteith this July.
Monteith reportedly died of an accidental heroin and alcohol overdose — unsurprising given the star’s history of drug and alcohol abuse. His abuse started when he was 13, after his parents divorced, and the actor — who dropped out of high school at age 16 — entered rehabilitation at 19.
Monteith landed the “Glee” role after working in several low-wage jobs, and his stint as Finn Hudson made him a household name, and the celebrity crush of millions of teenage girls.
The show drew critical acclaim and became known for featuring popular songs and show-stopping numbers. Its distinctive wit and charisma helped it to stand out, and the show’s fans, or “gleeks,” connected with the cast of misfits and underdogs. The show drew in more than 10 million viewers each week, and its songs and albums topped billboard charts, eventually leading to concerts and a 3D movie.
A big part of the show’s success rests in its ability to handle serious issues in a family-friendly way. The show tackled homosexuality, bullying and teen pregnancy in its early seasons. Even with these sensitive topics, “Glee” still induced laughs with charming characters, clever dialogue, and upbeat musical numbers.
The show’s popularity didn’t last long, however, and by season three, viewership dropped and the creators were faced with the task of ending a few of the characters’ storylines. Because the show is set in a high school, many major players graduated and left the program. Writers attempted to create new characters, but they failed to recreate the show’s early success.
The irony of it all is that the elements contributing to the show’s initial success also contributed to its downfall. The show attempted to address too many topics in the fourth season leading to messy, unrealistic, and short-lived plotlines about bulimia, school shootings, online dating and drag.
Romantic interests grew complicated, and the storyline became a confusing web of “who’s slept with whom.” By season four, “Glee” was reduced to a cheesy dramedy.
There has been little information released on how Monteith’s death will be handled with the show opens its fifth season on Sept. 26. Show creator Ryan Murphy did say Finn Hudson, who the audience last saw enrolling in college to get his teaching degree, would not die from drug overdose on the show.
Here’s hoping they handle the death in a way that highlights Finn’s contribution to the Glee club, rather than using it as another excuse to cover a controversial topic like gun violence or alcoholism.