TIME Television

Glee Holds On To That Feelin’, One Last Time

GLEE:  L-R: Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Rachel (Lea Michele) make a pact in a flashback to 2009 in the special two-hour "2009/Dreams Come True" Series Finale episode of GLEE airing Friday, March 20 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Mike Yarish/FOX
Mike Yarish/FOX

The emotional two-part finale was a reminder of the show's potential for greatness, and of the ways it fell short.

Spoilers from the series finale of Glee follow:

The beautiful thing about high-school TV series is that they reproduce, in accelerated form, the cycle of life. In three or four years a group of characters is “born,” grows, matures and passes from its world. If the show lasts longer than that (and isn’t continued at a conveniently located nearby college), then the story adds another generation of younger faces. The underlying premise of a high school show like Glee is that cycles repeat. Much as you think your story is unique, after you pass there will be a whole new set of stories just like it. We have always been at war with Vocal Adrenaline.

Glee’s finale, however, was for the show’s old-timers: the original cast (with the sad exception of Cory Monteith) and the fans who may or may not have stuck with the show beyond its first seasons. However many twists the show went through in its later years, the finale’s first hour, “2009,” was a reminder of where it started: as a story, equal parts hopeful and bittersweet, of small-town students and teachers wanting something more than what they had.

Making the first half of a finale essentially an alternative version of the show’s own pilot–which remains one of the best TV pilots of the last decade–was an ingenious move, sweet and nostalgic and tearjerking. We saw Rachel once again as a trying-to-hard achiever; a tentative Kurt, finding a way out of his basement; Mr. Schu, trying to back his crappy car out of the dead-end alley of his life. The reprise of “Don’t Stop Believin'” was inevitable but still devastating. We had the return of Mike O’Malley, with his grounded, complex portrayal of Burt Hummel; and seeing the embryonic friendship-rivalry between Kurt and Rachel singing “Popular” from Wicked recalled one of the series’ high points, their moving, heartbreaking sing-off on “Defying Gravity” in season one’s “Wheels.”

As someone who reviewed Glee regularly its first few seasons, and loved the show’s transcendent moments for all its inconsistencies and iTunes-driven excesses, it was a well-earned love letter. But it was also a reminder of the potential that the series once had and that it only intermittently lived up to.

Glee began as a show about losers, outcasts, the wretched, slushie-drenched refuse of high school. As “2009” reminded us, the most important thing the New Directions got from glee club was not a trophy or a career but a sense of belonging: “We should look back on our time here and be proud of what we did and who we included.”

Inclusion was central to Glee, and that was, as much as the music, what made it of its time. Glee’s pilot aired in May 2009. The United States had just elected a black President; same-sex marriage was legal in only three states. In its top-to-bottom diversity, and especially its attention to LGBTQ characters, it was one of the emblematic shows of its time socially. It wasn’t flawless in this way more than any other; it could be offensive intentionally and unintentionally. But it spoke to the moment by being about difference. Everyone was an outsider, united by hormones, dreams and love of pop music.

One of Glee’s great themes was the power and danger of dreams. At its best, the show balanced the romantic idea of shooting for stardom with the fear of knowing that it doesn’t always work out, that you might not be good or lucky enough, that at some point you hit up against your limits. Losing Monteith to an early death in 2013 was a blow, because it cut out one of the legs from Glee’s long-running story: not just Finn and Rachel’s romance, but Finn’s fear of ending up a “Lima loser,” that high school really might have been his peak.

In any case, if the first hour of the Glee finale was a hat tip to what Glee once was, the second, “Dreams Come True,” was mostly an affirmation of what it became: a more fantastical, outsized, upbeat version of the show, which ended, for the most part with everyone getting just about everything they wanted.

So Kurt and Blaine are in New York, still together, starring in “the first LGBTQ production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and having a baby with Rachel as their surrogate. Rachel, in turn, is also in Manhattan, winning a Tony Award. (And married to Jessie St. James? OK. My congratulations to their ‘shippers, whoever you are.) Mercedes is an international recording star. Mr. Schu is not only principal but has essentially remade the American educational system. Artie is a film director and Tina his star. Sue Sylvester is, somehow, the vice president to just-re-elected Jeb Bush. (And yet closed things out with a speech praising arts education, the likes of which I do not expect to hear from the podium at next year’s RNC.)

Curiously, the one character who best captured the season-one theme of reconciling big dreams with small ones was not around for Glee’s beginning: Sam, who essentially ended up inheriting the Finn Hudson role. It’s Sam, the kid from a financially strapped family, who ends up deciding that chasing fame won’t make him happy, and who reminds his New Directions group of a philosophy that powered some of Glee’s most emotionally true episodes: “If we want to be great, we need to be able to sing about hurt and loss.”

His students’ reaction to that line is to suggest singing Kenny Chesney’s “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”–which is probably a shout-out to Overstreet’s father having written that song, but is also emblematic of how, in the long run, Glee went for the crowd-pleasing over the bittersweet. Obviously, Glee is not the only show to go all-in on the happy endings; see the recent finale of Parks and Recreation. And given the show’s sense of mission–toward bullied kids, outsider kids, kids without privileges–maybe it was inevitable.

But it made for a strange contrast in the show’s last moments. In her valedictory speech, Sue tells us she once thought that encouraging kids to dream was cruel and useless, because the world is full of disappointment. Which, of course, it is, even if not only disappointment. If Sue was wrong back then, it’s because there’s a value in dreaming for all of us, whether we realize those dreams or not.

That idea has been a theme of some of Glee’s best episodes. (Think of season one’s “Dream On,” in which Artie imagines escaping his wheelchair, something he must eventually realize won’t happen.) The finale of Glee made the case, emotionally and passionately, that it’s worth it to dream because–as both Rachel and Will said in so many words–“dreams come true.” It’s an important message, powerful, and–considering the young audience Glee speaks to–not one to cynically dismiss.

But what was missing was another message, which Glee also used to make powerfully: that dreams don’t all come true, and yet they’re worth having anyway. Just as the arts are good even for kids who won’t end up on Broadway, dreams expand your sense of who you can be, even if you’ll never give an acceptance speech on national TV.

Yet I’ll miss the memory of Glee no matter what. In the end, I teared up at the last performance, as it brought back characters major and minor. (Farewell, Sugar!) That’s what Glee always did: it could frustrate me with its stories, execution and cartoonishness—and then open up a firehose of musical emotion and, at least for a few minutes, everything was forgotten.

Glee began with a ton of potential. It fulfilled it occasionally, squandered it often, and every once in a while, delivered moments of transcendence. To be a Glee fan was to love its flashes of brilliance despite its stretches of disappointment. To paraphrase the final inscription on the Finn Hudson Memorial Auditorium, it was a show to appreciate for what it should be, what it could be, and at its best, for what it was.

Read next: What Glee Club Looked Like 60 Years Before Glee

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Television

Read TIME’s Original Review of Glee

Glee
Fox A scene from Season 2 of 'Glee

As the show comes to an end, look back at TIME's 2009 take on it

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

TIME Television

Glee to Cover Wicked‘s “Popular” For Finale

Actress Lea Michele attends the Family Equality Council's Los Angeles Awards Dinner at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Feb. 28, 2015 in Beverly Hills,
Imeh Akpanudosen—Getty Images Actress Lea Michele attends the Family Equality Council's Los Angeles Awards Dinner at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Feb. 28, 2015 in Beverly Hills.

The series finale airs March 20

Glee will go out with a bang with stars Lea Michele and Chris Colfer covering “Popular” from Broadway’s Wicked.

As McKinley High’s Gleeks bid farewell to television this Friday with the series finale, it’ll be interesting to see if long-lost fans will tune in. The musical dramedy hit a ratings low during its fifth season finale with just 1.9 million viewers.

This latest cover is perhaps a throwback to the first season, when Michele and Colfer sang a duet of Wicked‘s “Defying Gravity.” Both stars of Wicked‘s original Broadway cast, Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth, have guest starred on the show. Listen to Glee’s version below.

Read next: Glee Stars Open Up About Final Days on Set

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Television

Lea Michele Threw Up While Singing ‘Let It Go’ on Glee

She really did let it go

When Lea Michele sang “Let It Go” on Glee, she took the song’s command literally—and threw up on set.

“The day didn’t start off so well,” she said on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Wednesday. “I was singing, there was snow falling. I looked up, trying to make it magical and beautiful, and ended up choking on the snow and vomiting.”

The camera crew got the whole thing all on film—in slo-mo, no less. But Michele eventually got well enough to perform sans barf—and to pretend to be Elsa for the crew’s kids.

“I was like, ‘I am God right now!” she said, referring to the moment she realized the children thought she was actually the star of Frozen. “I am a Disney princess god!”

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME Television

Your Guide to Hate-Watching Glee’s Final Season

Fox 'Glee'

When bad TV happens to good people

It’s been a long time since the New Directions gave us all goosebumps with the group’s cover of “Don’t Stop Believin.” Since then, the a capella outcasts of William McKinley High School have had many ups and many downs, including incredible covers, interesting guest stars, 3-D films, Twitter hoaxes and the tragedy of losing star Cory Monteith.

Glee, the once popular musical dramedy, hit a ratings low during its fifth season finale with just 1.9 million viewers, and Fox trimmed its final season to 20 episodes. Even worse, the show got pushed to Friday nights. Last season was pretty awful, but the show must go on. So if you’re a Gleek who’s yet to let go, here’s what you need to know before tuning in Friday.

Where we left off

Things got ridiculous last season. Rachel landed the role of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl on Broadway and dropped out of NYADA to focus on her career. She was later upended when Santana became her understudy, which only fueled their feud. Blaine and Kurt got engaged to a sweet cover of “All You Need Is Love” during the Beatles episode. And Finn’s death was pretty much glossed over in a touching episode called “The Quarterback” (more on this below). Sam, Blaine, Artie and Mercedes moved to New York after graduation. Sam and Mercedes had an odd relationship in New York that ended when Mercedes left the city to go on a mall tour with Brittany and Santana, who got back together. Oh, we’re not done yet. Puck and Quinn, who reunited on the show’s 100th episode, got back together despite sharing a child together in the first season. Seriously, all of this happened. And to top it all off, at the end of the season, Rachel left Broadway to pursue a career in TV while the glee club was disbanded by whom other than Sue Sylvester. There were also guest stars like Shirley Maclaine, Demi Lovato and Peter Facinelli, and some returning ones like Gwyneth Paltrow and Whoopi Goldberg.

The struggle without Cory Monteith

The show said farewell to its quarterback Finn Hudson when Monteith died at 31 of a heroin overdose in July of 2013. The star dated on-screen girlfriend Lea Michele in real life, which was reflected in the goodbye episode that seemed as much a tribute to Monteith as it did to his character. The show’s creator Ryan Murphy explained that this final season was supposed to wrap up the love between Michele and Monteith’s Rachel and Finn. At the end of season six, Lea [Michele’s] Rachel was going to have become a big Broadway star, the role she was born to play. Finn was going to have become a teacher, settled down happily in Ohio, at peace with his choice and no longer feeling like a Lima loser. The very last line of dialogue was to be this: Rachel comes back to Ohio, fulfilled and yet not, and walks into Finn’s glee club. “What are you doing here?” he would ask. “I’m home,” she would reply. Fade out. The end.”

What we know about the final season

Rachel and Kurt have moved home to Lima to bring the New Directions back to life against Sue’s wishes. There are a handful of new characters, bullies and outsiders, who bring back memories of season one (arguably the show’s best), but will likely seem a little been-there-done-that at this stage. Originals like Mark Salling, Dianna Agron, Naya Rivera and Heather Morris will be back as well. “They’re all back home kind of to lick their wounds,” Jane Lynch told Entertainment Tonight.

Songs to expect

“Let It Go” is the most publicized of the numbers and was released earlier this week. No word on whether Rachel’s on-screen mother Idina Menzel, who sings the original from Frozen, will make another guest appearance. There have also been cuts of Darren Criss’ Blaine covering Ed Sheeran’s “Sing” and clips of the entire club tackling A-ha’s eighties hit “Take on Me.”

The two-hour season premier is set to air on Friday at 8 p.m. E.T.

Get your slushies ready.

TIME Television

Watch the First Full Song from the Final Season of Glee

Darren Criss takes on Ed Sheeran in "Sing"

The first full performance from the sixth and final season of Glee is out, and you can watch it.

The newly released clip, featuring Darren Criss as Blane, is from the two-hour season premier set to air on Jan. 9. The song, performed by all-male group the Warblers, is a cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Sing.”

Lea Michele’s pipes don’t feature in the clip, but she does make an appearance as the audience.

TIME Television

Listen to Lea Michele Sing ‘Let It Go’ on Glee

The cover will be available on iTunes on Tuesday, and the final season of Glee premieres Friday, Jan. 9, 2015 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

Glee is getting Frozen.

Lea Michele will belt out the now-classic Disney tune “Let It Go” on the season 6 premiere of the FOX musical dramedy – and PEOPLE has an exclusive first listen to the former Broadway star‘s rendition of the Oscar-winning ballad (which was sung in the film by her Glee mom, Idina Menzel).

After taking a detour to New York the past two seasons, the final season of Glee picks up a few years after last season and finds many of the show’s original glee club members back in Lima, Ohio.

Not much else has been revealed about the final season, but if this version of “Let It Go” is any indication, fans can expect a plethora of crowd-pleasing hits.

Michele’s cover of “Let It Go” will be available on iTunes on Tuesday, and the final season of Glee premieres Friday Jan. 9 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Television

Rachel and Kurt Return to McKinley in Glee Final Season Teaser

For Glee‘s sixth and final season, Rachel and Kurt are returning to McKinley High to reinstate the Glee Club. And from the looks of the trailer, that involves butting heads with Ms. Sylvester, running into The Dalton Academy Warblers and, of course, singing “Let It Go.”

But where’s Idina Menzel?

Glee‘s sixth season kicks off with a two-hour premiere on Friday, Jan. 9 on Fox.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME Television

Emma Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis Reportedly Cast in Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens

'Emma Roberts at the American Horror Story: Freak Show' red carpet premiere in Los Angeles.
Splash News/Corbis 'Emma Roberts at the American Horror Story: Freak Show' red carpet premiere in Los Angeles.

Scream Queens will take place at a college campus where a number of murders take place

Ryan Murphy has found his scream queens.

The creator of Glee and American Horror Story is prepping what he calls a “whole new genre” of “comedy-horror” with a new anthology that has cast two stars so far.

Emma Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis–who got her big break with a lot of shrieking in the 1978 scary staple Halloween–will star in Scream Queens, which premieres next fall on Fox, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Murphy had previously said that the production was conducting a nationwide search for “two female leads … as well as 10 other supporting roles.”

It’s not yet known which characters they will play, but the first season will take place at a college campus that’s become the site of several murders. Like American Horror Story — which Roberts has appeared on — later seasons of the show will feature entirely new plots.

[THR]

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com