Beyond a Television Review: Goodbye to Glee

I only cried once during the finale episodes of Glee. I swear. And I was only running on about 5 hours of sleep.

But I don’t like experiencing big emotions when I feel like I’m supposed to. Maybe it’s because I’m an artist or because I’m just stubborn, but I refused to get caught up in the mess of Glee‘s last season like my two roommates. It was the end, it was the right time, I wasn’t going to make any bigger deal out of it.

Which was very much like my initial reaction to Glee. My first semester at Rice University, I resisted watching the first episodes with the rest of my suite. True, I had been the biggest High School Musical fan–which garnered me necklaces, blankets, baseball caps, and other fan gear from family and friends–and Glee seemed like the natural next step. But I was in college now, I didn’t have time for television shows in between English classes and deep philosophical discussions with my new friends.

Until I got sick. The first time I had a cold away from home. I knew my boyfriend at the time didn’t want to watch it, but my nose was running and I could feel him and everything stabilizing slipping away from me as freshman year growing pains began. I barely kept from crying after that first episode, when those six original Gleeks belted “Don’t Stop Believing.” And suddenly, though I had strived valiantly to remain unaffected, I was a Gleek.


Glee buttons.


I didn’t agree with many of the show’s decisions. The odd scrapping of characters and endless promotion of others. The hot button issue manipulated plot lines. At first I hated Glee‘s dialogue. They never left any room for subtext as each character said the first dumb thing that came to mind, and yet everyone still found ways to misinterpret each other and squabble. When the show started following the New Directions graduates to NYC, I willed myself to stop watching the horribly unrealistic view of life in the arts as I tried to imagine my own post-graduate life. But I could never turn away.

Now I’m glad I stuck with Glee through the drawn-out, sappy end. I get embarrassed at the show’s sentimental antics and auto-tuned songs and show tunes because in my heart of hearts, that’s what I’ve always loved the most. What it portrayed was never realistic, always felt overly optimistic in spite of gargantuan odds, and clunked along until the next musical number lifted it into wordless bliss.

Styling band geek.

Styling band geek.

I’ve been feeling like an underdog these days more than I did in high school. I’ve left behind the sheltering cliques of band geek, Rice Player, and graduate student. Even though none of them ever quite fit, they were comforting with their special rooms and traditions meant to bond their members tightly together to face the world. Following my dreams feels as solitary as those images of Kurt, Rachel, Mercedes, Artie, and Tina wandering the halls of McKinley High School before Mr. Schuester pinned up that Glee Club audition poster.

Writing is and isn’t solitary. It’s difficult for me to

Awkward band geek. Yeah, I was cooler as a Gleek.

Awkward band geek. Yeah, Gleek was a step up…

find the balance between networking and crafting, supporting myself and feeding the artist who won’t shut up or let me quit. I’m lucky–I have friends and family who believe in me more than I believe in myself most days. And on the days when even their words don’t ring true, there’s something about the New Directions that cuts straight through the negative anxiety spiral straight to my emotions.

You didn’t solve everything, Glee, but thanks for opening up doors to new perspectives and showing me how to love the loser in me. (And for finally ending, three seasons past your prime).


About austinausten88

Playwright in love with Classic films, afternoon tea, and Noel Coward. She recently graduated from Rice University. In the fall, she will be exchanging her English major undergraduate status for that of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate student.
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