Brace yourselves, this is going to be sappy. It deserves to be. This is important.
I’ll say this right away- I know that a lot of people feel like Glee fell off the deep end for the last year or two or three. Those feelings are allowed. But, as I’ve mentioned before, Glee means a lot to me. Because I care about the characters. Because I love music. Because it has changed the course of my life, and the lives of so many others. Because it has changed the world, for the better. But maybe mostly because- and I didn’t realize it until now- Glee is, at its core, about being true to yourself and about finding someone or something that understands you, even when you can’t understand yourself. It’s about feeling something so strongly and intensely and not knowing whether it’s okay or how to express it, and then finding a way not only to come to terms with it yourself but to use it to connect with others through a shared passion. Whether that something is your sexuality, your past, or the fact that nobody around you accepts that you’re a dreamer, there will always be a song that understands you and a home where your feelings are accepted and you are celebrated for being brave enough to have them. That is a world-changing concept, and it deserves to be celebrated.
After six seasons, Glee came to an end with a double episode this past Friday. After a weekend of anxiety, I was finally able to watch the finale today. My thoughts before viewing the episode:
Here I am, in bed on a Sunday, about to watch my last episode of Glee. There’s so much anticipation. I think about how much I used to look forward to new episodes- watching with friends in high school or college, discussing them in depth after. Some season finales stick out more than others. I remember most season 3: I biked to a friend’s empty apartment to watch it on her TV. I sat alone on her floor, nobody to watch with me. I watched Finn break Rachel’s heart, and I rocked back and forth on that floor crying. I’ll never forget that. Every time there was so much hope, so much anticipation for what would happen next. Finn’s smile just after he confesses his love to Rachel in the finale of season 1 is enough to give me hope for the rest of my life. To be so happy just to know that you’re in love, and to tell it, and to be looking ahead to nothing but possibility.
And now here we are for the last time. I’m about to watch the first part of the finale, entitled “2009.” It’s hard to believe that it’s actually going to be over, and I’m going to have to deal with whatever emotions it brings on my own. No more episodes to change my feelings. This is it. Here goes.
Then I watched the episode, which takes a look back at the pilot of the show from a different angle. The episode fills in some story, but all I could think about the entire time was when I would see Finn. Ever since learning the title, I knew that this episode would be a special one, and I anticipated the thrill of seeing fresh footage of Cory Monteith, saved from years ago. To my great disappointment, there was none. However, the episode ended with the same song that the pilot ended with six years ago, even using the same Cory Monteith-centered footage, the song that has defined this show and an era. Don’t Stop Believing.
Glee has performed Don’t Stop Believing many a time. Never once has it been repetitive or out of place; every time has been more meaningful than the last, because of the history and the feelings that this song brings. Maybe I didn’t love this episode as much as I thought I would, but it taught me an important lesson: once something is a part of you, it’s a part of you. It can be the pilot, the finale, Rachel’s season 4 audition (which also happened to be the last scene Lea Michele and Cory Monteith ever appeared in together), or using season 1 again in the show’s finale. It’s never old. Don’t Stop Believing is Glee. Finn and Rachel dancing around in red t-shirts and jeans and converse is Glee. In life things may go a million different directions and you may have tragedy or annoyances or any number of things that change you. But there will always be something that makes you you. And Glee will always help you to celebrate that.
Don’t Stop Believing, Season 4 Episode 19 “Sweet Dreams”