Laughter, Tears, and Goodbye: Glee Did it All

I wasn’t always a fan of Glee. In fact, when it first began I quickly dismissed it as another silly high school drama and refused to have anything to do with it.

Then, sometime around Christmas during its second season, one my best friends (who is a huge fan) sat me down and forced me to watch the pilot episode. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. In fact, it was kind of fun. But I still didn’t really get into it. Several months passed and I didn’t really think much about the show.

In May of that year I started a new job. I thought this job would be a great experience, and offer me a chance at upward mobility. I was wrong, and I ended up being completely miserable. That summer was one of the lowest points in my life. Then, sometime around June something made me decide to start watching the first season of Glee on Netflix. I burned through those episodes in no time, then signed up for Hulu Plus just so I could watch all of the second season.

The show was silly, as I expected, but it was also fun and bright and exactly what I needed at that time. I downloaded the songs and listened to them on my way to work so I wouldn’t worry too much about what was going to happen when I got there, and I would listen to them on my way home to try to cheer myself up. I think the only music I listened to that summer (apart from the concerts I attended) was the Glee soundtrack. I saw NKOTBSB in Philly that summer, then bought tickets to see them again in Hershey just because Matthew Morrison would be opening for the Hershey concert. Glee saved me that summer and therefore has always held a special place in my heart.

Since becoming a fan of Glee I have seen Darren Criss perform live twice – once in concert and once on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I’ll be seeing him again in May in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Through Criss I have also discovered the musical theater group he co-founded with friends, Starkid. I’ve also seen them live twice – once in concert and I traveled to Chicago to see their musical, Twisted.

Glee became my happy place. Whenever I needed cheering up, I would listen to the soundtrack or pick an episode to watch.

Glee also broke my heart when actor Cory Monteith died. His death affected me more than any other celebrity had up until that point. For the past two seasons any time Finn was even mentioned on screen my eyes would tear up.

Glee2Glee has had a lot of ups and downs over the years. Not every episode was amazing – in fact there are plenty I am perfectly happy never watching again (either Britney episode or the twerking one) but I still loved it through everything. I wasn’t a huge fan of the new cast that came on when the originals started graduating, but I kept watching for the characters I did love. Last season was possible the lowest point in the show, which is understandable since the writers had to scramble to find a new direction and arc for the season after the loss of someone so vital to everything; though I do admit to some frustrations.(An entire episode about twerking? Really?)

This season has reminded me of everything I loved about the show from the start, and that is why watching the two-hour finale was even harder than I expected. After the roller coaster of last season, I was only watching this season because it was the end, and I wanted to know what happens to everyone. I found that I actually enjoyed this year’s crop of newbies more than the previous ones and bringing everyone back to McKinley worked better than splitting time between Lima and NYC.

Since I’ve already rambled long enough, I won’t go into a full review of the finale, except to say that it was well done. I liked that the first hour took us back to the beginnings of the New Directions and reminded us of where everyone came from. There wasn’t a single tear until Finn came on screen. I haven’t watched a single episode of Glee with Monteith in it since his death, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep it together, and I couldn’t. I cried all the way through “Don’t Stop Believing.” The tears didn’t really stop throughout the second hour. Nearly everyone’s solos made me tear up, a lot. I absolutely loved Kurt and Blaine singing “Daydream Believer.” That has been one of my favorite songs since I was three years old.

Glee3I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of time traveling finales, though Parks and Recreation recently used the device effectively in their finale. When Glee first jumped forward I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and groan a little bit, but I think ultimately it worked. We don’t know exactly where everyone ended up in the future, but we know they’re all still friends and happy. I was also a little relieved to see that Rachel ended up with Jesse. I knew they would have her with someone, and I was really hoping it wouldn’t be Sam – that just never felt right to me. Jesse is the only person other than Finn with whom I could possibly envision Rachel being happy.

The Tony awards, then dedicating the gym to Finn were the perfect way to end the show, and it left me with a huge whole in my fangirl heart, because I really am going to miss the New Directions. I didn’t even realize how much until the finale was over, and I was still crying. (I confess I’m tearing up again as I write this last paragraph.) Thank you, Glee, for all the tear and laughter and for being there when I most needed you.

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