What Is The Shelf-Life Of Glee?

Earlier this week, I published a piece detailing my time as an extra on the Glee concert film planned for release this August. At the time, I contemplated expressing my thoughts on the show’s shelf-life in that same post but decided against it. It seemed like such a discussion warranted its own post. Then, on Tuesday, NY Magazine’s Vulture Blog posted an article that dealt with the shelf-life of many of TV’s biggest shows, Glee among them. Because of this, I thought I might as well express my opinion on the show’s longevity.

Glee means different things to different people. For some, it is a show about empowerment and self-discovery, while others enjoy the show for the superficial pleasures its soundtrack provides. I continue to watch the show for two reasons: its cultural relevance and Dianna Agron. So, I was understandably disappointed by the news that Ryan Murphy planned to graduate Agron, as well as Lea Michele (Rachel), Cory Monteith (Finn) and Mark Sailing (Puck), this upcoming May. That is, until I sat back and actually evaluated his comments. For all the noise Murphy has made since revealing to Ryan Seacrest that four of his principle leads would graduate from the fictional McKinley High at season’s end, he has never once said that those four actors would be leaving the show.

Still, let’s assume for a second that Agron, Michele, Monteith and Sailing are leaving Glee at the end of next season. Where does that leave the show? Last season, Michele, Monteith and Chris Colfer received the lion’s share of A-Stories with Naya Rivera’s role expanded in the back half of the season. Once Michele and Monteith are removed from the fold, Murphy will be forced to beef up the roles of characters like Mike, Tina and Mercedes who have been fairly one-note up until this point. On Tuesday, Murphy informed TV Line that said plans are already in the works for next season. Yet, at the same time, the auspice refused to confirm that Darren Criss (Blaine), Chord Overstreet (Sam), or Ashley Fink (Lauren) would factor prominently into season three’s stories.

In light of news that Glee will have an actual writing staff next season, I’m feeling slightly more optimistic about the show’s future than I was last month when it wrapped up its second season. Ali Adler (Chuck, Life As We Know It and No Ordinary Family), who will join the show as a Co-Executive Producer, wrote some of my favorite episodes of Chuck including “Chuck Versus the Truth” and “Chuck Versus the Ring.” Additionally, the sensibilities for writing teens that she exhibited on the short-lived Life As We Know It should lend themselves well to Glee. Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men) is also joining the staff as a Consulting Producer. Noxon drove Buffy into the ground during her two years as its showrunner and struggled when given the reigns of both Private Practice and Brothers & Sisters but, when she takes a more backseat role, she tends to excel. As of late, Noxon has focused on features, doing heavy rewrites on I Am Number Four and scripting the upcoming Fright Night remake. So, if nothing else, perhaps she’ll give Agron meaty stuff to work with. I’m less familiar with the other 4 writers joining the show, mostly because two of them have zero credits to their name, but hopefully 9 heads will prove better than 3.

None of this actually answers the primary question at hand though. What is the shelf-life of Glee? If I had to guess, I’d say it has another three seasons left in tank. Even if the show experiences a creative revival next season, it’ll theoretically have to weather a series of cast overturns. Assuming Murphy and company stay true to their promise of graduating kids on time, Season 4 would end with nearly every major cast member we’ve met so far exiting the series. And, while Murphy told TV Line that he thinks of Matthew Morrison and Jane Lynch as “the male and female lynchpins of the series,” I remain unconvinced. Lynch and Morrison aren’t the ones touring the country; they aren’t the ones selling the records; and, they aren’t the ones on magazine covers. FOX may try to squeeze a fifth season out of the show, but I can’t see Glee resonating with an entirely new cast. I would, however, wager that FOX launches a spin-off series following Rachel in New York City. Michele has already gone record saying “I would LOVE that! For Rachel to graduate next year and then move to NYC and go to school there! That would be so fun!” And, if she’s on board, then why wouldn’t FOX be?


One Response to What Is The Shelf-Life Of Glee?

  1. I love the layout of your blog. Obviously you have a very valid point, however I can’t get over how great the site design is.

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