There are many things that could be said about a TV show that lasts six seasons – it’s a hit, a phenomenon, a spectacle that’s dissected and recreated and copied and fan-fictioned until it’s a part of people’s lives so intensely that no one wants it to end.
After nearly six years, 121 episodes and 728 performances, that’s what Glee was – is – to me. A phenomenon; a hit; a part of my life that’s been around since a plaid-skirted Rachel Berry put her first gold star on the glee club sign up sheet in May of 2009.
My generation is a weird one, to say the least. We grew up with ever-changing technology, and a society where norms were constantly in flux, as the children of a generation who experienced things like the civil rights movement and the invention of the computer and mobile phones. Our generation, like our parents’, has become accustomed to things that our grandparents and their parents may have gasped at. And Glee, like so many advantageous shows before them, saw that, and ran with it.
The powerhouse that is Glee has has one big ticket to success in its six seasons: a cast of characters that, while somewhat fluid and always doing something different, has stuck to its core strengths in relating to the major problems teenagers and young adults today face. Like the most successful shows do, Glee’s cast’s grew in time with the generation who’s attention they grasped with their first rendition of Don’t Stop Believing, and kept up with current issues and topics through the dynamic characters Ryan Murphy and his incredible team created years ago.
There was always someone to relate to on Glee, whatever you were going through in life.Whoever you were, whoever you are, in the generation Glee focused on you had a place to call home. I was, for sure, a Rachel Berry. But she gave me, and every other ambitious, in your face girl (or guy!) watching, hope that being annoying wasn’t always a bad thing if it got you what you want in the end. There were also times when I felt for other characters, like Sam’s family’s financial struggles, or Mercedes’ dieting habits – the amazing writers and actors behind these characters had me hooked from season one until the finale Friday night.
Glee tackled so many issues in six years – bullying, gay rights, divorce, and even death when they lost one of their own in 2013. They handled the issues with taste but also in ways that did not by any means leave the characters unchanged – the episodes built on each other and made better characters out of the circumstances they faced.
But more than the issues, Glee also tackled real life dreams and ambitions. Because while it was a show about a high school Glee club filled with awesome performers, not every character wanted to, nor eventually became, a star, though those who really fought for it did. Glee showed that striving for what you want, whatever that may be, can get you places, and that people can have talents in all sorts of manners, and exploring all your options may lead you to what you really want.
What made me really love Glee over other generational shows, like, for instance, Degrassi (is Degrassi still a thing? I remember when it was a big thing), is that for the most part, it stuck with the same characters and really dug in deep with their motivations and struggles, instead of just moving on to a new set of freshman every year. There was some turnover, yes, but there always is in show-business. I firmly believe it speaks to the quality of the show and the team behind it that they were able to keep such a big-ticket cast coming back to do more appearances as time went on.
So, as I sit here wiping away all the feels, because yes, the finale had me feeling ALL OF THEM, I am totally crushed that this show is over. But I also know that it did its job – Glee defined our generation, creating this perfect time capsule of our music, our issues, the personalities and stereotypes we see walking the halls of every high school and college in America. Glee let us sit down in front of a TV once a week and let the rag-tag group of misfits and popular kids who secretly loved to hang out with them sing their hearts out and work towards a common goal, while living life and facing issues we ourselves faced every day.
It’s over, but it’s not the end. Glee’s time has ended, let’s see what the next generation’s got to offer.