I settled in for Thursday night's Glee episode because like millions of other people, I wanted to watch the Cory Monteith tribute episode and feel connected to fans all over the nation who were ready to collectively grieve the loss of "the quarterback." The 31-year-old actor's death was a shocking reminder of the overwhelming and fatal power of addiction and even though we mourned him at the Emmys, it still felt like there was a loose end, and this Glee tribute was supposed to tie that off for us. Unfortunately, it did not.
I don't have beef with the fact that the show didn't address how Finn Hudson died — there was no way they could have done so without either creating a new storyline for him ("Finn was hiding a heroin addiction from us!") and if they had him die in a car accident or something, that would've felt wrong, as well. In fact, one of the few things Glee did right last night was ignore the details of Finn's death; by not mentioning it at all, it actually spoke volumes.
The set list was good, too. Naya Rivera's performance of "If I Die Young" was bizarre and felt a bit cold, but other than that, the performances were good... save for Lea Michele's performance of "Make You Feel My Love," which was excellent.
But that's where the praise has to come to an end. The rest of the episode felt so over the top preachy that I kept glancing around my living room, talking to pillows, asking them if this was really happening. You'd think Glee would have toned down their classic didactic approach for this episode, of all episodes, but nope. The lesson of the week this week, kids, was that ruh-roh, gwieving is hard.
Over the hour long show, we got lessons on how to grieve from Mr. Schue, Miss Pillsbury, Sue Sylvester, Santana, Kurt, Kurt's dad, Mercedes, Coach Beiste, Puck, and the janitor. When they weren't lip synching in the music room, they were beating us over the head with passive-aggressive tips on how to mourn the loss of someone you love.
The grief lectures wouldn't have been so offensive if they hadn't been so ironic. Instead of letting us grieve, they just kept telling us how to — it was tedious and it was exhausting. But preaching is what Glee does best, so really, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.
The death of a cast member is a delicate subject to tackle, no doubt about it, but for the most part, Glee fans seem happy with the Cory Monteith tribute episode. There was no way the Ryan Murphy show could please everyone... but you know, people express sorrow and pain differently, you guys. There's no right or wrong way to show emotion, but it's important to talk about how we feel, and to acknowledge that we may grieve in a different way than someone else, and that's okay. “The show must go… all over the place… or something” — everyone's journey to remember and mourn Monteith will be unique. Glee taught me that.
Now, onto the actual grieving.