A scene from Season 2 of 'Glee
By Lily Rothman
March 20, 2015

When Fox’s long-running musical Glee sings its last note on Friday, it will have been after six seasons of slushies and songs. But back in 2009, when the show premiered after American Idol (before returning for its regular run that fall), it wasn’t clear whether the network’s risk would pay off.

After all, as TIME’s critic James Poniewozik noted back then, the top models for TV-musical success at the time were American Idol and High School Musical. Would something that sometimes took a tongue-in-cheek approach work, or would potential fans be turned off by what they saw?

Poniewozik, for one, was hopeful for the former:

What makes Glee more than sketch comedy, and what may save its commercial appeal, is that it is also an underdog story (not just about the kids but also idealistic music-lover Will) with heart. Like Ugly Betty’s, its spoofing is bright, not dark. And with a well-chosen sound track and arch comedy, the pilot is just a giant basket of happy. If Murphy can flesh out the overly broad characters, this series could be a rare, sophisticated, joyous hybrid that gets to have its pop candy and satirize it too.

Read the rest, here in the TIME Vault: Chorus of Laughter

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.


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