Last week, the highly anticipated Glee Cory Monteith tribute episode aired. It’s the episode that brought me back to the show I happily let go last season. Call it a morbid sense of intrigue, but I really wanted to see how the episode was going to be handled. I wanted to see how they handled the issue of how he died. I wanted to see how the other cast members handled the loss. I just wanted to know and see all of it! A lot of people I know, and people I don’t know, kept saying the same thing “I don’t watch Glee” or “I stopped watching Glee, but I want to see this episode” and see it they did! 7.4 million viewers tuned into the tribute! Sadly, the episode did not deliver the way I had hoped it would. Yes, it was heartfelt and some scenes were really heartbreaking, but it failed on many levels.
Ryan Murphy always prided himself with taking on the issues kids face today and bringing them into his show to shed light on the topics. Controversy constantly slaps him in the face thanks to Twitter, Facebook and all the comment areas in blogs and articles, but that never stopped him from pushing the envelope. Glee has touched upon several topics that were, and still are, relevant in today’s society like bullying, homosexuality, hate crimes, transgender and school shootings to name a few. The school shooting episode, Shooting Star, came out a little too close after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut and upset many parents who actually lost their children in the shooting, but that didn’t stop Murphy from airing it to bring “awareness” to the topic. With that being said, my question is, why didn’t Murphy touch upon drug abuse in this episode? Why didn’t Murphy and the writers “raise awareness” about how Finn Hudson/Corey Monteith died of a heroin and alcohol overdose?
The episode starts with the newer cast members singing “Seasons of Love” with a huge picture of Monteith in the background then slowly older casts members stroll in and sing with them… except for Lea Michelle, who plays his girlfriend on the show & is also his real life girlfriend, she shows up later in the episode. That’s all you see of Monteith, only pictures. No flashbacks of him from the show are used when the cast is reminiscing, no talk of how he died and no interlude to him dying. Nothing. The show just starts with him dead and that’s all. If this was purely a Cory Monteith tribute I’d understand, but they killed off his character Finn, so I expect more! That deserves an explanation and closure on the show. If you weren’t going to talk about it why even make the episode? I get that it’s for ratings and that goal was achieved, but considering Murphy runs around screeching (yes screeching because that’s what he sounds like in my head) about bringing awareness to important topics, isn’t drug overdose an important topic? Young people are abusing drugs left and right and are dropping dead from deadly mixtures isn’t that worth talking about? Murphy had the opportunity to shed light on the issue to 7.4 million viewers, most of which are young adults, but instead used the death of Monteith and the heartbreak of the cast as his own ratings tool and swept the issue under the carpet.
The narrative in the show said “ Everyone wants to know how he died, but does it matter? What matters is that he’s gone.”… No it matters! Basically, what I am to understand of all this, is that since it’s so close to home for the cast, Lea Michelle and Murphy then they don’t have to cover the topic. It’s too painful for them. What about the Sandy Hook parents? Why weren’t they granted the same respect? Or gays who are constantly fighting to lead quiet normal lives, why weren’t they spared the turmoil of having to see to see their struggles on the big screen? How about the kids who are daily bullied at school, why is it ok for them to relive their trauma out of school on prime time? Or are all of those issues just a whole lot more important than drug and alcohol abusers? Are they not worthy enough to have you, Mr. Murphy, shed light on their issue too? I would be more understanding of the whole situation if I didn’t feel this was more of a staged ratings gimmick than a true and honorable tribute for Hudson/Monteith, the cast mates and the fans of the show.
Having said all that, there were a few stand out performances that did help balance out the tribute a little and I think it’s only fair I mention them. Chris Colfer’s character, Kurt Hummel, was fantastic. The scene where his dad and Finn’s mom clean out Finn’s room was heart-wrenchingly painful to watch. That was the only scene that truly made me cried because as a parent I can’t imagine losing my child. Hearing the mom say “I’m still a mother, but I don’t have a child is something I don’t know how to do.” tore me to pieces. That line has haunted me since she uttered those words. It was raw and beautifully acted out by Romy Rosemont, who plays Finns mom Carole Hudson. Matthew Morrison, Will Schuester, was a great rock to everyone and held the show together. When he finally broke down, clutching Finn’s varsity jacket, at the end I felt his loss and it made me remember that he truly did lose a friend and that this wasn’t just a show I was watching, it really happened. He’s really dead. Lastly, as much as she pissed me off for having a hand in the lack of tribute in the tribute episode, I have to hand it to Lea Michelle for being able to hold it together, to sing beautifully and to be there for Mr. Schuester when he was busy being there for everyone else. I know she’s an actress and this is her job, but she’s also human and she lost her fiancé in real life and for that I applaud her for a really strong performance. The others were good, but these were the standout characters for me.
Honestly, I really wish this episode was handled differently. It had so much potential to be powerful and memorable and had such a great forum to reach millions of people with an important issue. Instead it was mishandled; from not acknowledging how Monteith died to the absence of Finn Hudson’s longtime on-screen girlfriend Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron). Keeping her off the episode because supposedly Lea Michelle and Murphy didn’t like her left a bad taste in my mouth before the episode even aired! I guess nothing can be done about it now. The tribute has come and gone and now we move on. I hope in some way this blog lands on Ryan Murphy’s radar because he should know he did an awful job at handling this tribute. I can happily say that my journey with Glee has ended when the credits rolled. It’s been pulled off my DVR series recording list and this blog is my final association with Glee. It was a fun ride for two seasons. I’m happy to let it go and move on. RIP Cory Monteith.
Did you watch the tribute? Was I too harsh on Ryan Murphy and, to some extent, Lea Michelle? What are your thoughts on the tribute episode? I’d love to hear your opinions! You can find me on Twitter @Saudiprincess13 or you can leave your comments below! If you haven’t seen it and would like to watch it you can catch the tribute episode, The Quarterback, on Hulu and Youtube. Until next week…