Finn's farewell fast-tracked to Aus
Watch a short teaser for Friday's tribute episode to Glee character Finn, after actor Cory Monteith passed away in July this year.PT0M19S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2va0d 620 349 October 10, 2013
Glee isn't just another comedy about the horrors of high school. Now in its fifth season, this cheeky Fox show has become a cabaret-meets-after-school-special that sneaks in as many life lessons as it does pop songs. In a recent episode, there was even a reminder about the importance of meningitis vaccines.
After one of its stars, Cory Monteith, died this summer from a toxic mix of heroin and alcohol, it seemed almost inevitable that the show would somehow work in that loss as a cautionary tale for young viewers.
Glee star Cory Monteith dies
Monteith in character as Finn Hudson.
Spoiler alert: The episode, The Quarterback, that went to air in the US on Thursday is the first to address the disappearance of Monteith's character, Finn, a quarterback turned glee club singer when the series began. The new show opens three weeks after Finn's funeral, and the entire school is grief-stricken. But there is no hint of how Finn's life ended. There are no elliptical references to the dangers of substance abuse - not even an Amy Winehouse song.
That decision will undoubtedly disappoint anti-drug advocates who may be hoping for a teachable moment, but it's a bold and respectful one. Rather than milk the tragedy and pump up news media attention and ratings, the show's writers went out of their way to step around the obvious.
Finn's stepbrother, Kurt (Chris Colfer), as he prepares to attend a high school memorial, gives the answer while talking to himself: "Everyone wants to talk about how he died, too, but who cares? One moment in his whole life; I care more about how he lived."
The Quarterback ... Monteith's girlfriend Lea Michele, as Rachel Berry, gets comforted by teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison).
And those words are meaningful, not just for the character, but also for the people who worked with Monteith.
Glee is famous for addressing all kinds of issues related to tolerance; there is even a transgender character. But the show is not particularly known for diffidence or decorum, and neither is its creator, Ryan Murphy, whose credits include Nip/Tuck and American Horror Story.
Last week's episode also included a recent grad's big break in show business: singing about yeast infections in an ad for an antifungal cream.
No time for sorrow ... Jane Lynch as Sue on Glee.
So, of course, on this commemorative episode, there is humor as well as sorrowful songs like I'll Stand by You and If I Die Young.
Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) is one of the few students who turns to the jittery guidance counselor, Emma (Jayma Mays), for help with her feelings.
"I just don't know how much longer I can do this," Tina says weepily. Emma gently asks her what she means, and Tina tells her she means wearing black.
"This look is so Tina two years ago," she moans. "I spent so much time transitioning away from Goth, and look at me - it's like I'm back in that look."
Emma gives Tina a hug and self-help pamphlets titled It's Not About You and Wait, Am I Callous?.
There are more sober messages about the different ways people handle loss. A mother's grief is indescribable, but the writers find a way for Finn's mom, Carole (Romy Rosemont), to express herself as she sits on the floor of her son's room, contemplating the task of packing up his belongings.
"You don't get to stop waking up," Carole says. "You have to keep on being a parent even though you don't get to have a child anymore."
This funny-maudlin tribute to Monteith won't please everyone, but no one can accuse the show of crass exploitation.
As usual, Sue (Jane Lynch), the acid-tongued cheerleading coach who's now the principal, says it best.
In one scene she snaps at the teachers to stop wallowing in their grief. They can best pay tribute to Finn, Sue says, "by not making a self-serving spectacle of our own sadness."
♦The episode screens on Network Ten's Eleven channel at 7.30pm Friday.
New York Times