I have watched Glee since the beginning. I was there in May of 2009, after the finale of that season’s American Idol, and have been there ever since. Glee has had a lot of wonderful moments over the years, and a number of truly maddening moments as well, but I’ve stuck by it until then end. And I’m happy with that.
It seems to me that people are so far fairly unsatisfied with this last season. Not that that’s a real surprise. People have been unsatisfied with Glee since the back half of Season One. It’s never been quite what people want it to be. Things are tying up too neatly or not at all. Kurt and Blaine as well as Santana and Brittany get married, but what about their futures, their career aspirations? Kurt and Blaine get back together, but do they actually work though any of the problems they had in their relationship? What happened on Mercedes’ tour? Is she doing another album? Are Puck and Quinn really together, because he was getting pretty close with Mama Anderson at the wedding? Really, we’re going to have a whole episode based around Sue, who even likes that character? And really, who cares about this newest crop of New Directions? Why do they have to have stories? They should just be in the background while we focus on the real show.
And it’s that last complaint that led me to finally, formally realize an unpopular opinion I think I hold.
For me, as much as I may like the individuals, I watch Glee for New Directions. And by that, I mean that for me the heart and soul of the show is the choir room. It’s kids coming together to create music, kids figuring out who they are and how to be a part of something. It’s about the importance of that kind of space in high school when you’re a teenager. And unlike a lot of viewers, it doesn’t matter to me as much who those kids are.
I like Rachel and Kurt and Mercedes and Santana and everyone else as individuals, I do. But if, starting with Season Four when they went off to New York, they only popped in for a few episodes a season, just like Quinn and Puck and Mike, I wouldn’t have missed them. In fact, when I think back to Season Four my favorite episode is Dynamic Duets which has no New York in it at all. And in this final season, my favorite episode so far has been Child Star. I could have done without Myron (since he’s basically a male rehash of Sugar – rich and spoiled and not nearly as talented as they think they are), but I loved the focus on the newest newbies, and didn’t even notice that Kurt and Blaine were absent from the episode until everyone on tumblr complained.
I would have been fine with the original New Directions’ stories ending with getting out of Lima and making it to New York (or LA or college, etc). I didn’t need to see Rachel make it (and then crap out) on Broadway. I didn’t need to see Kurt and Blaine or Santana and Brittany get married. I didn’t need to see Mercedes make an album and go on tour. Just like I don’t need to see Quinn or Tina in college or Puck in the Air Force to know they made something of themselves.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy their continued stories. Let me make that clear. I didn’t need to see the wedding, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. I did. In fact, this is the season that finally got me on board with Santana and Brittany as a real couple. Brittany freaking out before the wedding was adorable. The vows were lovely. I just enjoyed Mason singing about breaking free from twin sister Madison better. Those handful of episodes at the end of Season Five were fine, but to be honest they left me a little cold. I’m not sure I can really think of a stand out among them unlike the first half of the season (Tina in the Sky With Diamonds – no A Katy or a Gaga – no The End of Twerk – no Trio – I can’t decide!). And New York was not what breathed some new life into the show after Season Three’s graduation. Nope, it was Marley and Ryder and Unique and Kitty and Jake.
I think what it really comes down to is this. For me, Glee‘s central theme has always been about dreams. Not achieving them. But on figuring out what they are. Figuring out that it’s okay to have dreams. That it’s okay for your dreams to be big or small. To be about your career or your personal life or your self. To be not what’s expected of you. And that all came from the lessons learned in the choir room (whether you think Mr. Schue had any real hand in that is up to you). I don’t need the real life. Don’t need to see the struggles and the achievements. Don’t really care about the end results. I just want all the idealism and new beginnings and the hope. Most of all, the hope.
But this isn’t my story to tell. And that’s okay. I’m content with watching Rachel struggle with her career choices and her ego, and Kurt and Blaine struggle with their relationship, and Santana and Sam struggle with their place in the world. I’m content with RIB devoting a whole episode to Sue’s biggest fall yet (c’mon, guys – Jane Lynch is the emmy winner, not to mention Sue Sylvester is the iconic character to come out of the show, no matter how beloved Rachel or Kurt is. Of course, she’s going to showcased this last season). I’m content with the newest New Directions only seeing one competition. And I’ll be sad to see it all go.
But in the end, there’s nothing left to do but say good-bye.