Last night I watched the last ever episode of Glee.
I lost track of the show for a while, having watched the first series when it originally aired in the UK on channel 4.
As a musical fan, on screen or on stage, a weekly tv show in that style intrigued me, and although I had left high school behind me, it was a period of life I could relate to.
The characters were outsiders, geeks, drama nerds, cheerleaders, and jocks. Archetypes established in 80s tern comedies like The Breakfast Club.
Even when show creator Ryan Murphy (who is also behind American Horror Story) awkwardly forced LGBTQ issues in, making it a character’s only personality trait rather than just part of who they are, the characters were relatable, the songs easy to sing along to, and the storylines didn’t patronize the viewer.
My favourite character was the Machiavellian cheer coach Sue Sylvester (played with tongue firmly in cheek by the fantastic Jane Lynch), who at some point became the school principal (thanks to my sister for bringing me up to speed), and her sidekick, cheerleader Becky, whose Down’s Syndrome was handled very well, in that it didn’t define her. (Favourite episode – the Christmas one where Sue and Becky dressed up as the Grinch).
The show was keen to showcase that what makes up different, makes us stronger. From Artie’s wheelchair (shame actor Kevin McHale is able-bodied, some representation still needs work) to Kurt’s homosexuality and coming out to his macho dad, Rachel’s upbringing as a mixed race child of gay parents, Puck’s absent father issues and Finn’s war hero dad, whose memory he wanted so badly to honour.
The characters were given depth as time went on, but some of the plots got a little absurd. There were some characters who seemed to be solely there to make up numbers and didn’t have names, let alone a plot.
Then there’s the Jazz Ensemble – always available to crack out a tune, appearing to live in the choir room in case they were needed, despite mostly being students themselves.
It was a show with heart – shown to effect by the remembering of Finn Hudson – the quarterback, played by Cory Monteith, who tragically overdosed during the show’s run.
Yes, there were thirtysomethings playing 17-year-olds, and yes, some of them weren’t much cop as singers. Yes, Mr Schu, actor Matthew Morrison, was a horrific rapper, yes the plotlines were at times utterly ridiculous.
The guest stars were fun – Barry Bostwick and Meat Loaf protesting the teens version of The Rocky Horror Show (they played Brad and Eddie in the film version), Kirsten Chenowith and Idina Menzel (stars of stage and screen – big voices).
The final series was probably the wackiest, and the reasons for reassembling the original Glee club line up weak at best, but going out with a bang is Murphy’s signature move. Sue becoming Vice President, with Becky as her Secret Service bodyguard, Kurt and Blaine putting on an all male version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and then entertaining six-year-olds, just the whole premise of their future lives was fairly hysterical.
They stuck to their guns, and went our with a big musical number, bringing back pretty much every actor who had appeared in it for one more song on the auditorium stage – a version of One Republic’s I Lived.
So farewell Glee, although I’m sure you’ll be rerun endlessly and end up on Netflix. Nothing ever really ends these days.
Were you a Gleek or did it leave you cold? Let me know in the comments.