“Don’t stop believing”. anyone who has seen glee knows that this phrase, “don’t stop believing”, and its song, original by Journey, are the deepest motto of the series. And yes, surely you will already be humming it, shaken by nostalgia, questioned by what fiction meant for each one at the moment in which he traveled with her to his high school stage. Her soundtrack, characters, plots and romances, however simple they may sound in a list, form the backbone of the exciting experience derived from viewing her. The beats turn into bars that follow the choir of young protagonists while they evoke a past tremendously linked to the present.
The cast of ‘Glee’ fires Naya Rivera: “She was the most talented of all”
The sad news of the death of Naya Rivera has reignited the unconstructive headlines about the “curse of glee”. It is true that, unfortunately, the death of the interpreter of Santana is not the first tragedy that stalks the team of the series. Cory Monteith (Finn) died of a heroin and alcohol overdose weeks before the start of production on the fifth season; three years later he met Mark Salling (Noah Puck Puckerman) suffocated by hanging after pleading guilty to felony possession of child pornography; In 2019, a case of mistreatment by Blake Jenner (Ryder) to his ex-partner, also from the cast, Melissa Benoist (Marley).
Without detracting from the drama of such a history -much less trivializing it-, we wanted to explain why glee has been able to transcend beyond the tragedies that have accompanied it. Why, as far as fiction is concerned, it has remained a phenomenon since its premiere in 2009 and its outcome in 2015. 121 episodes (available on Netflix) left a legacy that is difficult to summarize. We know that one of the great pillars of the series was to show that sometimes it is much simpler and more sincere to express oneself with songs, but we will still try to live up to it through “only” written words.
1. A roster of characters among whom it is difficult to choose a favorite
In glee It is very complicated to get wet and choose a single favorite among its characters. The New Directions welcomed into their group people as disparate as the endearing and self-centered Rachel (Lea Michele), the quarterback good-natured Finn (Cory Monteith), the only recognized homosexual in high school William McKinley Kurt (Chris Colfer), the elegant Blaine (Darren Criss), the captain of the cheerleaders Quinn (Dianna Agron), the badass Santana (Naya Rivera), the apparently dim-witted but talented Brittany (Heather Morris), off-roader Mercedes (Amber Riley), goth Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), up-and-coming film director Artie (Kevin McHale), gambler/dancer Mike (Harry Shum Jr.), bully Noah Puckerman (Mark Salling) and sweet Sam (Chord Overstreet), to name just a few.
Analyzing the adjectives used to briefly describe them, it is easy to think that each one refers to a stereotype. the merit of gleeand its creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, was to achieve a narrative arc with which to do them justice, generate levels of empathy and ensure that, although the Finn-Rachel couple enjoyed a higher step in terms of prominence, everyone had their space to love them, and also hate them. That is why it is difficult to stay with a favorite, which at the same time can be understood as a virtue if we take into account that his scripts are supported by a choral group in which, at an interpretive level, he complies in unison. The series served to launch his career, especially that of Colfer, who won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in 2011. A ceremony in which jane lynch (Sue Silvester) won the award of the same name in the female category, and together, they were recognized as Best Musical or Comedy Series.
2. His song to diversity and the value of being oneself
From the beginning of the series, the characters of glee they awaken enormous tenderness in those who sit down to meet the first group of nerds who join Will Schuester’s choir. They are not the most popular in the class, rather the opposite, but they sing well, they enjoy doing it and, of course, they need a space where they can develop their talent, share it and feel safe. The cast is diverse because its characters are, among which are included from different races, religions and sexual orientations, as well as a protagonist in a wheelchair who lives a normal life at school and a girl with a disability.
But let’s delve into the subject of LGBTI visibility, because later on a transsexual student (Alex Newell) is included with whom she takes the opportunity to put the issue on the table, fully, both because of how it affects her and her environment. Another strong point is the couple that make up Kurt and Blaine. In our analysis of the representation on television regarding the last Pride, from FELGTB (Spanish Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Trans and Bisexuals), they highlighted the importance of creating positive references. Of course glee puts the focus on bullying that the former suffers at school – to the point of changing – but not only that. As the fiction progresses, he joins another center where homophobia is reviled and prohibited; and he meets the one who ends up being the love of his life, for whom his sexual orientation has not generated any problem. While it’s a major storyline, Kurt isn’t defined solely by his sexual orientation, and it becomes less so as the seasons go on.
The other great example is Santana. The cheerleader, one of the most popular girls, discovers that she is a lesbian; Immediately, her relationship with Brittany raised them as necessary lesbian and bisexual icons, respectively. All this enriched by the voice given to each character to express what and how they feel. Speaking of, about and for many.
3. The teacher we all deserved: Will Schuester
He was not the first nor will he be the last inspiring professor of fiction, but Will Schuester (matthew morrison) is the true engine of glee and the New Directions. He is the one who takes over from the choir when his previous leader is fired in the first chapter of the series. Until then, his work had been reduced to being a Spanish teacher, and the opportunity to take charge of the singing group opened a door into his own life. He is unique in splurging humanity and motivating his students. He gets involved, invites them and practically forces them to believe in themselves.
In her classes, she manages to create an environment in which promising young people lose their fear of expressing themselves, understand what they want to convey and do so as truthfully as possible. He is the one who prepares them for the state and national choir championships, which add an added challenge that comes in handy to the series to generate uncertainty and celebrate each victory as true world champions. Of course, learning is even more relevant in defeats, and that is that although it is kind, glee he does not build a path of roses for his characters, who are not lacking in obstacles worthy of life itself. Remarkable is his staunch defense of the arts, fighting every season against threats of ending the group to convert his rehearsal room into one with computers.
Through Will, it is claimed that there is life beyond the institute and that the links do not have to disappear. He walks away from the false promise of “stay in touch” that is often not fulfilled, making it a reality. When some of his former students succeed on Broadway or anywhere else in the United States, he is the first to travel to proudly attend the premiere he plays.
4. Its wide range of topics and debates
through the halls of glee there has been space to address issues, in addition to LGTBI visibility, such as bullying, suicide, frustration, politics, divorce, unwanted pregnancies, death, eating disorders -although these could have been better treated- the disability, weapons and mistreatment, among others. Bets that move the series away from the preconceived canon about what a juvenile fiction should reflect. Your teens are complex, and as they deal with different situations, they grow. Of course, this is its strong point because it does not intend to dogmatize or divide the world between those who do everything right or wrong. Attitudes are not polarized and everyone has the same opportunities to make mistakes, realize and redeem themselves.
The music, its particular sense of humor and a tone that makes room for believing in a better world, help. glee it generates followers because it is grateful to see, it goes straight to the heart. And not because she offers an easy speech under the motto of “if you want, you can”. She goes further, breaks with the maxims that say that “you must do what is expected of you” or that “you have to succeed and do your best.” What is important here is the freedom to find what each one wants and to know that the paths are different and equally valid. Accept yourself and know that a decision at 17 does not have to change your life forever, that you can reach what is expected to be your first year of university without having been accepted at the school you dreamed of, and at the same time need more years to find your calling, if you have one. That nothing happens for not stepping well the first time, and that precisely because of this, the insane and unhealthy pressure of “do you know what you are going to do?” It is mainly a source of negative consequences. And for this, listening to each other -if it’s in songs, better- is the best help, not always explored, possible.
5. His repertoire and musical numbers
In case it wasn’t clear yet, glee It is an eminently musical series. Each chapter includes its own repertoire of songs in which there is room for artists such as Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Whitney Houston, Paramore, Britney Spears, Madonna, Florence and the Machine, Queen, Billy Joel, Prince, Adele, ABBA, U2, Bonnie Tyler, The Rolling Stones, Bruno Mars and a long list of musicals like Grease, Chicago, The Rocky Horror Show, Funny Girl, Rent, West Side Story Y dreamgirls. Perhaps the greatest merit has been getting versions of the extensive list of songs with their own personality and whose musical production has been taken very seriously.
Although aware that it is very difficult to select which have been the best numbers, we bid farewell to this tribute to glee with a brief and humble selection, to which we know you would add a few more (you know that we too).