Here’s what you missed on ‘Glee’

Zoe Leone, Associate Arts & Life Editor

If you have somehow managed to spend the past 14 years without ever having heard of the show, here’s what you missed on “Glee.”

The series premiered on Fox in May 2009 and ran for six seasons. “Glee” follows a high school show choir and the rather insane twists and turns of the lives of its members (and several over-involved staff members). It quickly became a pop culture phenomenon, earning 33 Emmy award nominations, over a 100 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and a dedicated group of fans known as “Gleeks.”

And while it’s been eight years since the show ended, “Glee” is just as popular as ever. The #Glee tag on TikTok has amassed over six billion views, while popular Twitter accounts like “out of context glee” continue to generate hit tweets about the show that gain thousands of likes.

The show was arguably one of the most controversial of its time. Somehow, it managed to have storylines or jokes that were offensive to virtually everyone. From racial stereotypes to cliché LGBTQ+ characters, the series’ run generally had some form of questionable content in each episode. Whether intentional or not, it’s almost satirical in nature, but even the cast has spoken about the tone-deaf nature of some of the comedy in the modern day.

And yet it still begs the question: why do we still love “Glee” so much?

Perhaps it’s the ludicrousy of it. What other show features teenagers singing pop hits (often better than the originals) amid storylines featuring rivals being sent to crackhouses, the worshiping of a grilled cheese that resembles Jesus, an act of rebellion in the form of a Ryan Seacrest tattoo or songs about cups and headbands?

The show’s absurd dialogue doesn’t hurt either. With snarky one-liners that involuntarily invoke fits of laughter or monologues about show choir and self-esteem that blabber on forever, anyone who has seen the show likely has a scene or two that has incorporated themselves into their everyday vocabulary. My personal favorites are tied between “Who’s Josh Groban? Kill yourself!” and “You’re all minorities. You’re in the Glee club.”

There’s truly something about each episode of “Glee” that feels distinctly like a fever dream.

On a more serious note, however, “Glee” managed to bring something to the screen that very few shows about teenagers ever did at that time: representation. While it was often surface-level and riddled with problems, the characters on the show were radically groundbreaking for the time.

“Glee” was one of the first shows to feature LGBTQ+ characters in its main cast. The show aired in the world pre-nationwide same-sex marriage, yet it had multiple same-sex relationships that were featured just as much as any heterosexual ones. And while not always perfect, there was very rarely a time that a queer character on the show was devoid of any allies.

Similarly, the series featured several characters with disabilities. While non-disabled actors played some, none of them were pushed to the background. Out of all the representations “Glee” aimed to provide, the show’s characters with disabilities perhaps broke the most out of stereotypes. Becky Jackson (Lauren Elizabeth Potter), who had Down syndrome, was a mean-girl cheerleader, while Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale), who was paraplegic, was a serial lady’s man who often took center stage with a solo.

There is no denying that the show is a bit of a mess. Many of the episodes have content that has aged poorly, but for those of us who grew up watching it, there is a nostalgia factor that is hard to shake. Whether it was the first time you saw a character that had something in their identity that resonated with you or you were simply in it for the surprisingly fantastic music, there’s something in “Glee” that hits home for everyone.

And that’s how Zoe C’s it.