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Glee performs its swansong

As Glee bows out for its final episode, Rylie Trott laments the series, discusses its impact on the Entertainment world and predicts what’s next for the cast members.

Photo by Glee Wiki

Last Friday saw the double-bill finale of beloved musical-comedy Glee. In commemoration of the last six seasons, the show took us back in time to where it all began in ‘2009’ before transporting to 2020 to see the progression of their lives in ‘Dreams Come True’.

The show took on a split narrative structure following the lives of those left in McKinley and those who moved to New York following graduation. The pilot episode was recreated for the finale as the birth of the New Directions was experienced through previously unseen perspectives from the original cast: Rachel (Lea Michele), Kurt (Chris Colfer), Mercedes (Amber Riley), Artie (Kevin McHale), Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), and teacher Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison). Of course, the season finale would not be complete without an homage to one of its biggest and most influential characters: paralleling the pilot, the episode ends on the original performance of the iconic song ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’, including the late Cory Monteith who portrayed Finn Hudson.

Introducing the finale with a flashback to the first episode reminds viewers of the show’s journey and achievements. Despite some criticisms of the show’s decline following the introduction of new characters and slightly less conceivable storylines in the last couple of seasons, Glee has a unique and prominent societal presence. Since the introduction of its gay couple Kurt and Blaine, Glee has played an important part in the Entertainment world in raising awareness of issues such as homosexual relationships and sexual discrimination, with 27% of respondents in a poll published by The Hollywood Reporter in 2012 having said that shows like Glee and Modern Family had encouraged them to support the proposal of gay marriage. Fans of the show grow with the cast as they follow them through the trials and tribulations of growing up, starting from the ages of fifteen and sixteen and going into their twenties, meaning that many of the show’s topics and issues have been exposed and addressed in an informative way to a young, impressionable audience. Even with the music muted, the show has many layers and grounds itself in reality.

Cast members of Glee have been successful outside of the show. Darren Criss (Blaine Anderson) playing a concert at G4, July 2014. Photo by Rylie Trott.

Nevertheless, as each episode is generally built around a main theme with an average four-song structure, it’s important to consider the effect the musical show has had not just in the music industry but other aspects of the media. As quoted from Billboard, ‘no TV show ever impacted [its charts] like Glee’ with its record-setting 207 hits, 3 Billboard 200 number ones and 45 million downloads. In terms of its success elsewhere in the media, it has influenced films such as Pitch Perfect which also utilises mash-up songs and the goal of winning show-choir competitions. Additionally, the cast themselves have experienced success across different media platforms from their appearances on Glee. With many of them having organised tours and attended conventions such as Starfury’s ‘G4’, this is not the last we will see of the stars: new episodes are currently being filmed for the E4 panel show Virtually Famous hosted by Kevin McHale, and Darren Criss will be taking the broadway stage as ‘Hedwig’ from the end of next month through June.

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