Cory Monteith tribute on Glee. Many fans of the late actor and the show have been waiting anxiously to see how FOX will handle his death as well as that of his character, Finn Hudson. We will find out Thursday night at 9pm ET with the Cory Monteith tribute.
While the episode is being billed as “The Quarterback” in reference to the position Finn played before joining the school glee club, the cast and everybody watching on television knows this is everybody’s way of saying goodbye to Monteith (who died of a drug overdose in July). Even after his character graduated from McKinley High, he was still the main male character viewers gravitated to on Glee. The camera loved him, and so did his fans.
Some are also referring to this as a “Farewell to Finn,” but it is FOX’s way — and creator Ryan Murphy’s way — of providing closure to one of the most tragic Hollywood deaths in many years.
Among the guests cast in this episode will be Jayma Mays as Emma Pillsbury, Mark Salling as Noah “Puck” Puckerman, and Mike O’Malley as Burt Hummel, Finn’s stepfather.
Mike O’Malley was at a press conference this summer shortly after Monteith’s death, to discuss his new series Welcome to the Family, and was asked for his thoughts on the young actor.
“You know,” O’Malley said, “[Cory] was the fictional quarterback on [Glee], and he was the very real quarterback on that set. And he was an incredibly warm guy, a guy who was welcoming to everyone who came on that show, from the beginning through the new folks who came onto the show this past year. And he was a very, very hardworking actor. And I just loved working with him. I ‑‑ you know, he was a great guy, and I miss him very much.”
While Finn was the wholesome, All-American kid from the Midwest, Monteith battled — and ultimately lost — his addiction to drugs. There is no word on how Finn’s character will die on the show, but it would be a missed opportunity with so many young viewers tuning in if Murphy chooses not to have art imitate life. Far too often, drugs and alcohol are glamorized or excused on TV, and this is a great chance to send a powerful message to impressionable teens.
Writing off characters is nothing new for TV shows, but more often than not it’s because the actor has chosen to move on. NYPD Blue fans vividly remember the heartbreaking death of detective Bobby Simone, which was written to accommodate Jimmy Smits’ departure. In cases like that, the supporting cast is forced to act in order to create the emotion of the scene.
But that won’t be the case Thursday night. Finn might be the name of the person being mourned, but his fellow cast members will be mourning the loss of a dear friend. Much like when John Ritter died in real life while doing 8 Simple Rules, there are certain times when TV can be cathartic for both the people on the TV and those watching it.
It would be disingenuous to say Glee is remotely close to the novelty it was when it debuted in 2009. The new cast members simply haven’t clicked, and none of the young performers has distinguished themselves as stars other than perhaps Darren Criss.
Monteith’s death puts the burden in more ways than one on the brilliant Lea Michele, who was Monteith’s girlfriend both in real life and on the show. With her character out of high school and now in New York, perhaps it’s time for a Smash-like spinoff that revolves around Rachel Berry and fellow McKinley high grad Santana Lopez (played wonderfully by Naya Rivera).
Suggestions aside, I’ll return Thursday night to see how Murphy and his cast handle what had to be a very tough shoot. In the meantime, we can all look back at how it all began with the Journey hit “Don’t Stop Believing.” Rest in Peace, Cory and Finn.