We were just a bunch of small town guys and girls (living in a lonely world) back in 2009 when the midnight train that was Glee came a'chuggin into our lives. Riding high on the crest of the wave that set High School Musical (1,2 and yes, even 3) in motion, this dramedy claimed to be something different, and created quite the buzz before hitting our TV screens.
Yes, it was mainly musical, yes, it was set in high school, and yes, the show was jam packed with beautiful people who could sing, dance and act (in fairness, HSM really fell down when it came to that last one), but with Glee there was one crucial difference: Ryan Murphy, the man who gave us Nip/Tuck was calling the shots. When the show first aired we weren't quite sure where it, like many of it's beloved main characters, really belonged. Back then Glee was testing the waters with questions about whether or not it was possible to get pregnant in a hot tub without actually having sex (Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens didn't even KISS until High School Musical 2), and tackling homophobia through Chris Colfer's Single Ladies star Kurt Hummell. T'was far from teen pregnancy and discussions about homosexuality that those East High Wildcats were raised...
Season 1 became a smash hit almost instantly, leading to album releases and an international concert tour for the relatively unknown (outside the Musical Theatre scene at least) stars. The show proved important enough to drive parenting groups wild, and attract a host of guest stars from all walks of the entertainment world. Some artists hoped to have their songs featured, while others made a point of refusing to allow Murphy and co to take on their tunes. It's funny to think that a mere 3/4 years later the show's impact has waned significantly.
When Fox renewed the show earlier this year, there were whoops of delight from Gleeks across the globe, as not one, but two new seasons were given the green light. Yet I can't help but wonder if it's an early indication that the end is nigh? Surely they haven't run out of tunes to cover already? No, but they certainly have lost quite a few fans who, at some point, just stopped believing.
Glee took a big risk in Season 4, shipping the majority of its major stars off to college, and bringing in a few new faces to keep the Glee club exciting. Matthew Morrison's increasingly annoying Mr Schue headed off to Washington (thankfully), only to be replaced by Cory Monteith's Finn, who really began to remind me of the Samuel 'Screech' Powers of Saved By The Bell: The New Class (That's not a good thing by the way). And then they decided to make every second episode the Brittany show, dedicating one too many segments to the blonde cheerleader's apparent lack of intelligence.
Now, don't get me wrong, when Murphy and co first introduced Brittany S Pierce and her crazy one liners, I thought it was great. However, throughout Season 4 they dedicated so much time to her strange views on the world that the show seemed like a parody of some boring slapstick Nickelodeon offering from the late 90s/early 00s at times. Eager to fill the 'Finchel' void (don't get me started on Rachel Berry's transformation), the crew seemed to pump everything into Brittany and Sam (come on lads, he was MADE for Quinn), while shipping Blaine as the new Kurt, but the storylines just lacked the punch of previous series. Perhaps they should have considered spending more time on Becky, whose turn in Shooting Star was the performance of the series. That's how Glee is supposed to do it gang. When it was fierce, it was fabulous.
With the likes of Jayma Mays (Emma Pillsbury) apparently jumping ship, and more old cast members waving goodbye to William McKinley High School (Brittany, Mercedes, Mike Chang, Puck and Quinn are definitely not coming back unless they're one-time guest stars) we can't help but wonder how much longer the show can go on? Ryder, Marley, Jake and Kitty aren't awful, they just aren't floating the old boat in the same way. Yet Sue Sylvester herself reminds us that it's to be expected.
"That's the nature of portraying a realistic view of high school," Jane Lynch told TV Line this week. "Kids graduate. They move on. I like that we're following some of the kids to New York where they're trying to make it as actors and actresses. But the show will evolve, and when a show evolves that means you have to let some people go, and let some storylines go, so that you can pursue new ones." And you know, maybe she has a point: Perhaps Murphy should just consider shifting focus to NYADA and New York City. We wouldn't say no to a bit more Dean Geyer, minus the ridiculous Brody storylines of late.
Glee does still have a strong fan base (albeit a different one), so maybe it's just the case that the High School Musical generation has evolved, and quite simply grown out of the show. That might explain why we found it so hard to hold on to that feeling... I'll shut the door on my way out.