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A scene from Season 2 of 'Glee

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:

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

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