Glee grapples with death of Cory Monteith, Finn and blurred lines between actor and character
On Oct. 10, the Fox channel aired their hit television series “Glee” with a memorial episode in tribute to the late actor Cory Monteith. The 31-year-old star passed away in July of an accidental overdose, leaving behind a legacy of beloved fans. Soon after his passing, Glee’s producers made the decision to write his character, Finn Hudson, out of the series. Not only would fans mourn Monteith’s passing, but they would also mourn Finn’s.
As one of the millions of viewers of the gut-wrenching episode, I couldn’t help but feel slightly torn over the writers’ decision to keep Finn’s death undisclosed, despite Monteith’s passing being highly publicized by the media. Didn’t Gleekers around the world deserve to know how an integral character passed? Or was it in the name of decency and respect for Monteith and his loved ones that it wasn’t addressed? Despite the obvious answer, something still felt a little hollow.
According to Deadline TV, the emotional goodbye to Monteith’s character, drew in 7.4 million viewers. “The Quarterback” was the series’ highest rated episode in over a year. But as catharsis for fans of Glee, the episode was bittersweet. The audience was immediately denied an explanation for what caused Finn’s death by an opening voiceover of Finn’s stepbrother Kurt. We were told this information didn’t matter with an almost passive-aggressive scold. “Everyone wants to talk about how he died, but who cares?” Kurt said.
Jeff Janson with Entertainment Weekly writes, “It was an exploration of grief … earnest, flawed, a little irritating.” In response to Kurt’s opening question, as viewers who have invested their time and emotions in this four-year series, we care about what happened to Finn. Understandably, the producers struggled with the “reality blur” of Monteith and Finn as well as “the characters’ grief and their own.” However, their decision didn’t fully satisfy the viewers’ sense of much-needed closure.
The “Glee” cast and crew thought it important to keep remembrance of both Finn and Monteith alive throughout the rest of the series, which was just picked up for a sixth season. Commenting on the episode, “Glee”’s creator, Ryan Murphy, said, “I just made a decision that we keep mentioning Finn.” Murphy also revealed that Monteith will continue to be honored in future episodes as the shows other characters move on.
“We don’t just say this is done and we’re never going back to it, so that resonates throughout the year.”
As one of the leading roles on the series, his mysterious passing isn’t quite as believable as it would have been if the writers had given a reason for it. Without one, separate from Monteith’s tragedy, Finn Hudson — the adored, comically dim high school quarterback — simply disappears. Fans are left with an emptiness unanswered for, tears designated mainly for Monteith, since the loss of Finn is interjected without comment.
Both Finn and Cory were taken from us too soon, and grievances aside, “Glee” still remains the light under which millions of people have found strength. That is one truth that cannot be criticized.
Opinion columnist Alex Meyer is a creative writing freshman and may be reached at [email protected]