In May of 2009 I spent most of a week humming Journey’s song “Don’t Stop Believin’”. Now it could have been I was just listening to the 80’s station but it was because of a television show. I had watched the first episode of a series called Glee. Glee told the story of a group of lovable geeks who wanted to sing in the glee club. In those days of 2009-2010 the show was a white-hot phenomenon introducing the nation to the real-life show choirs and a cappella groups which existed in high school and college. I wasn’t just the music, though.
In the early seasons it was about finding friends in high school when you’re a quirky outsider. Our heroes regularly got “slushied” with one, or many, thrown in their face. It dealt with very serious issues like teen suicide, teen pregnancy, or bullying; among many. Glee grabbed a hold of its bully pulpit and was unafraid to show its audience the consequences of actions.
For three seasons the show had a clear mission as the glee club called New Directions kept competing until they finally would win the big prize. The final three seasons were more problematic as the kids graduated and their stories in the real world never gained the same amount of emotional traction. Part of the issue was one group of characters went to New York City to chase their dreams and another group stayed behind in Ohio. Glee had a very hard time balancing the stories and it became doubly hard when actor Cory Monteith died of a drug overdose in July 2013. Whatever the grand story arc that had been planned by creators and writers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk had to be changed. When Glee returned after that it felt like it had lost its way. I felt it never really got its groove back.
Glee came to an end this past Friday night and I sat down for the finale which was a mix of looking back to the beginning and flash-forwarding five years to see our geeks become great. When they reunited everyone who had played on the show for one last performance in the auditorium to OneRepublic’s “I Lived” it brought a final tear to my eyes.
Glee was never meant to be realistic it was a big fantasy of the way I would wish the world to be where the geeks can carry the day. For a while they had a large part of this country embracing that outsider part of their character all while humming “Don’t Stop Believin’”. After everything that’s a pretty good legacy to leave behind.