Back in 2009, a little show named “Glee” premiered on Fox. With a mostly unknown cast and a spirit to praise the underdog, no one was ready for the phenomenon that would occur after the premiere.
With the final season starting, there have been so many ups and downs we’ve been following. But, what the show has continually had is heart.
As “Glee” comes to a close, it is time to look back at the six things that made us fall in love with it.
Love has no definition, and “Glee” has often proven that. There are so many different kinds of love and the show has displayed several kinds.
It was clear from the beginning that Finn (Cory Monteith) and Rachel (Lea Michele) were going to be the main love interest of the show, but there was a sweet supporting story of the love that Will (Matthew Morrison) had for Emma (Jayma Mays).
Unfortunately, there were obstacles in both of these that came in the form of Finn’s girlfriend, Quinn (Dianna Agron), and Will’s wife, Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig). Both relationships have had ups and downs over the seasons, but only one lasted due to Monteith’s — and, therefore, Finn’s — tragic death.
“Glee” also features several same-sex relationships. The creators of the show took a high school student who was struggling with his sexuality throughout the first season and paired him with a confident and popular guy in season two.
The addition of Blaine (Darren Criss) to the show was very much needed. For one of the first times on television, there was a gay guy who was not struggling with his sexuality and did not let it define him — and he was in high school.
This helped in showing that there is nothing wrong with being gay and you don’t need to struggle with it, which is exactly what Blaine showed Kurt (Chris Colfer).
Another positive part of Kurt’s storyline was that of him and his father, Burt (Mike O’Malley). While Kurt was initially scared to come out to his father, Burt claimed he had known and fully accepts it.
Over multiple seasons of the show, Burt has always been there for Kurt and has often fought for him if he wasn’t being treated equally.
This show has covered everything else in love, as well. There has been teen pregnancy, sexuality questions, catfishing, divorce and marriage.
No matter what someone was experiencing in his or her life with love, there was a storyline with which you could connect.
Nothing is harder than losing a friend or a loved one. Regardless of whether or not you were still watching “Glee,” you could feel the loss when the news broke that Cory Monteith died.
Unfortunately, Monteith’s death meant the loss of Finn. The show had to go under a complete revamp, but had a touching memorial episode for Finn.
The characters all suffered from the loss and were brought back to the halls of McKinley High. A lot about grief was covered in the episode and how each character was dealing with it. Many of these emotions are what we have all felt when we’ve lost a friend or family member.
One of the greatest parts of this episode is how it does not take place right after Finn dies; rather, it takes place several weeks later and focuses on all of the characters.
When the episode was being planned, many people thought it would focus on Rachel and how she was dealing with it. On the contrary, Rachel did not appear until much later in the episode and provided a touching tribute to Finn.
When Finn’s mom, Carol (Romy Rosemont), shows up in the episode, it brings light to the tragedy of a parent losing a child. When she broke down in tears over Finn’s belongings, it affected viewers.
Unlike a lot of television shows, and media, in general, “Glee” has focused heavily on male body image. Body image is a huge problem in society with the sexualization of media, but more often than not, female body image is covered instead of male body image.
When the show introduced us to Sam (Chord Overstreet), it was clear he was comfortable in his skin with his rock hard abs, so it wasn’t a surprise when he took the role of Rocky in “The Rocky Horror Show.” Though, Finn was not as comfortable when he found out he would have to appear in his underwear as Brad Majors.
At the same time, Sam revealed he was not comfortable with wearing as little clothing as he was supposed to. Therefore, both characters revealed they were not as comfortable as others thought they were.
Another body image issue came when the New Directions boys decided to make a shirtless calendar in order to raise money for regionals.
Blaine, Jake (Jacob Artist), Ryder (Blake Jenner), Sam and Joe (Samuel Larsen) were all stripping down for the calendar, but Artie (Kevin McHale) did not want to take his shirt off because he is not as buff as the rest. In true friendship spirit, Sam keeps his shirt on with Artie for the calendar.
Perhaps the most interesting body image issue the show portrayed was the competition Blaine felt with Kurt. Like many relationships, one person felt the need to look as good as the other and was jealous he was not the “hot one.”
While Kurt was getting more fit, Blaine was gaining the freshman 15 and felt insecure about his looks in comparison. The two ended up talking it out and said neither wanted to judge the other and set a diet together and a workout schedule.
There was also a scary moment with body image when Marley (Melissa Benoist) thought she was gaining weight and Kitty (Becca Tobin) was making her more self-conscious. Marley ended up passing out on stage from not eating. This brought to light some eating disorders and the negative effects they can have on a person.
People spoke to Marley about this and made her realize that she needed to eat a balanced diet rather than not eat at all.
It would have been easy and predictable to have the Glee Club win regionals and nationals right from the beginning. However, it was not realistic. When you start something new, you have to grow and learn rights from wrongs and what works and what doesn’t.
So, it was a nice surprise when the showrunners decided to have New Directions lose regionals in the first season and then nationals in the second season. It proves you can’t give up if you fail.
Throughout life, there are so many instances where you are going to want something and you won’t get it, but perseverance is the key. If you keep working toward what you want to achieve, you will get there.
That’s what made their nationals win in season three so satisfying — the fact that they had so many failures, and now, they were successful.
Something that was shown heavily in failure, but also in success, is that there is always going to be someone who is rooting for you to fail.
Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) is the ultimate villain on “Glee,” who often does everything in her power to make sure the Glee Club will fail. It proves there is always going to be somebody or something that will try to tear you down, but you can always rise above.
The show also taught us that success is not always what you think it is going to be.
Rachel’s dream since the beginning was to become a huge Broadway star. When she finally made her star-turn with rave reviews as Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl,” it was not quite what she expected. She quickly got bored and decided it was not her dream anymore.
It is so typical to want something so much and expect so much that when you achieve it, you are slightly disappointed. The lesson here is that, sometimes, what you want is not what will make you happy, but what will make you happy has been there all along.
The show also highlights the positive side to success. After finally winning nationals, the Glee Club returns to McKinley High with their trophy in hand to a celebration from all the students at the school.
The underdogs were finally the popular kids and being treated with respect. After a long, hard journey, it is so satisfying to bask in the glory of success.
And, that is true anywhere: A success is, sometimes, just so great and just the motivation needed to continue.
The biggest thing “Glee” has promoted is that being yourself is the best you can be; you have to own your differences. Darren Criss has even said to Teen Vogue:
I want people to know that there is nothing more badass than being who you are.
This is something the show has embraced ever since the beginning. There are jocks that like to sing; there are men who like men and women who like women, and there are handicapped people who can still be stars.
As most fans went through high school and college during the run of this show, it helped build confidence in viewers, and helped them to embrace what makes them different and special.
As the characters have matured, so have we. And, this is what truly made “Glee” what it is. Accept the underdog and don’t assume that what you see on the outside defines a person.
Without these lessons, the show wouldn’t have been what it has become. Sure, like any show, there were times fans were annoyed with characters and storylines, but when it comes down to it, “Glee” truly has heart and makes people feel like they could belong, no matter who they are.
This article was originally published on Elite Daily on Jan. 9, 2015 and can be found here.