Let's Discuss: Cory Monteith And 'Glee'

Cory Monteith, one of the stars of Glee, passed away two weekends ago, and with the immense heartbreak of his passing, a giant hole has been left in the hearts of millions of people. As an avid viewer of Glee, there will be a huge difference in the emotion tuning in to the show once provided. There is no question they can still count on my viewership.

As speculation swirls as to what the writers will do concerning Finn Hudson’s fate on the hit show, there is more to be considered than the show “going on.” This for a lot of the young fans who watch the show are the first time that an actor has been ripped away from them due to one of life’s cruel tragedies.

As Glee  has tackled so many hard social issues, it has been forced into the position of dealing with the loss of a cast member which, is incredibly personal in nature and for a show that has essentially taken a stand that “it is never too soon” to take on discussing the hard issues, it is now facing the prospect of dealing with something that they would probably prefer to have more time to sift through.

One of the things that stick out amongst all of the show’s socially conscious storylines and desire to confront the real-life issues facing teens and young adults is the hot button issue they never truly confronted. It was the issue haunting its biggest star, substance abuse.

The closest they came to addressing drug abuse was when they attempted to tackle underage drinking in the second season’s 14th episode, the muddled and morally fuzzy “Blame It on the Alcohol”. The episode would, in the end, send a mixed message. 

While they acknowledged the public glorification of alcohol abuse and the realization the class could not find a song disparaging the act, as Mr. Schue had assigned, they ended the episode with a compromise. 

Mr. Schue asked the kids to sign an agreement that they wouldn’t drink until after Nationals. If they did wound up breaking the vow, he would drive them home from wherever they were so they didn’t drive while intoxicated.

By doing this, Mr. Schue, more or less, condoned underage drinking. His students were not going to magically turn 21 anywhere close to or after Nationals. The show’s message was fundamentally that “kids are gonna do what kids are gonna do, let’s minimize the damage.” 

Many primetime shows shoulder the blame for winking at underage drinking or excessive drinking at any age. The entire CW line-up would be first in line for such presentations. Depicting characters heavily intoxicated is often treated with a comedic effect in all entertainment genres.

My question is, why? Who is it benefiting from laughing it off and making the intake of near-fatal amounts of alcohol funny? Especially when we know that people are suffering from addictions? Pop culture is essentially saying it is possible to be a functional alcoholic.

Drinking responsibly wasn’t an option for the show’s star Cory Monteith. He bravely addressed his substance abuse when he divulged it to the press and being told that someone was going to give him a car ride home after he drank to excess wasn’t the message, that Monteith who died from a fatal combination of alcohol and heroin or anyone else suffering from substance abuse needed to hear.

He was in his 30’s, an adult legally allowed to drink, so being tougher on underage drinking, you might contend, would not have made a difference. Monteith started drinking when he was just 13 years old, as he told Parade.

As a Glee  fan, it is impossible to imagine a show without Cory Monteith. His portrayal of the kind-hearted Finn was the heart of the show. Period. He provided a refreshing reprieve from all of the angst-ridden bad boys that have crowded the airwaves and daydreams of young girls who, even in fantasy, are setting the bar low for themselves.

Finn Hudson felt…real, and that is all thanks to Monteith’s performance. He never hit a false or forced note. His genuine nature soaked through every ordeal Finn endured. He was a slice of something sweeter, something from a more wholesome and chivalrous time.

The gentle giant who treasured the girl he loved and encouraged her to be everything she wanted to be, even if that meant doing it without him. Monteith paved the way for the return of something better, the return of the true good guy.

One of the things that rushed back upon learning of his passing was that during what would be his last musical performance on the show, “(You’ve Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party).” I was working on something with the computer and wasn’t giving the show my full attention, a rarity. I remember asking myself why I didn’t push the lid down on my laptop and focus on the show.

My reasoning, you might ask? “I just want to finish this. There will be many more Finn performances.” How, unfortunately, untrue that would turn out to be. When you are young, you always think there will be the next time, and when the cruel reality hits that is not the case, the enlightenment is crushing.

Out of all the times that I was wrapped in attention to the show, to have Finn’s last performance does not have all of the attention it deserved, was a shocking blow. It readjusts your thinking back to the way you should always be living, cherishing every moment, even if it is with one of your favorite TV characters.

Showrunner Ryan Murphy has announced that they will be writing-in Finn passing away. It will be one of the most difficult hours of television that viewers will ever watch. However, it’s the only way to honor Cory Monteith and all that he contributed to the show.

The series will go on that much is true. It will never be the same Glee that fans have loved for the past four seasons, though.  How can it be? The show is missing its heart. For fans, it will take a long time to put ours’ back together.

[Image by FOX]