I haven’t been a fan of Glee for a while now, but nobody can deny that it broke new ground in television when it first came out, and many have tried to replicate its success to no avail. Almost all of Glee‘s charm lies within the actors and actresses who play the misfits of William McKinley High School. As talented as the cast is, and as ridiculous, frustrating and simplistic many of their characterizations have been, ‘Gleeks’ remain a dedicated (and rather rabid) fandom because the cast continues to genuinely love their fans back in their own humble, playful, charming way.
Hence the passing of Cory Monteith, who played one of the male leads Finn on the show (also often an inappropriately close friend to his teacher, leader of the misfits and one half of the end-game to end all end-games, the show’s central couple known to fans as ‘Finchel’), has not been easy on anyone, least of all his castmates, which include on- and off-screen girlfriend, Lea Michele. So central was he to the show, that Ryan Murphy considered shutting down the show entirely (and under different circumstances I would have agreed; this show should’ve ended about two seasons ago), but viewers and showrunners agreed that both the character and the actor who played him deserve a proper send-off, if just to give fans a chance at some closure.
Though it is a rare occurrence, television shows that have had to handle the death of a cast member while still on air have done so exceptionally well (unless one had the misfortune of dying while cast in Dallas or The Bold and the Beautiful). Episodes that deal directly with the passing of their characters, rather than bury it under flimsy dialogue, have been poignant, thoughtful, with a little bit of humour (though not always completely in line with the character) but with a loving nod to the wonderful people who played them.
What I’m most afraid of, in terms of the upcoming Glee tribute episode, is that the same (possibly bipolar with flashes of genius) mind that has envisioned and executed episodes like Shooting Star and Grilled Cheesus (both of which occupy the opposite ends of the Ryan Murphy Subtlety Spectrum) will be at the helm. He has considered having Finn Hudson die of a drug overdose, since Cory Monteith struggled with addiction issues all his life, but Cory the actor is not Finn the character. Such a death, though it would raise an important issue, would be so out of character for Finn that it would top (*SPOILER ALERT) Ricky Schwartz’s peanut allergy death in Awkward. Personally, I would prefer an exit storyline like George’s in Grey’s Anatomy. Dying whilst saving someone’s life – a hero’s death – would befit Finn’s muddled history with his deceased father, which resulted in his joining the army, and would neatly tie up the overall characterization of a man trying to find his path as a mentor and a leader.