Should we criticise Glee for not dealing with the serious addiction that caused Monteith’s death? Or should Glee be praised for dealing with the serious aftermath of its influence – grief.
Last night I watched the episode of Glee everyone knew was coming – the memorial to Finn Hudson / Cory Monteith. I cried for almost all of it.
The episode has been well documented by twitter and the internet (everyone’s crying, critics are being critical) so I’m not going to do a recap but touch on a few things that stayed with me during my watching.
Firstly, I was moved by Kurt / Chris Colfer’s opening lines about how everyone wants to know what happened… but no-one should focus on only that one moment of his life; it wasn’t the only moment he had.When I first heard Monteith had died, I immediately googled it, trawling website after website for clarification; an attempt to understand. The media was solely focused on the cause of death, with the occasionally afterthought link to a gallery of his career (various photos from Glee). I think it’s powerful for Glee not to make direct reference to the cause of death and instead focus on his life. It’s a message the media should take note of, instead of criticise, and a message anyone who has lost anyone can relate to.
Recently, I lost my best friend; my Oma. We were called up to the hospital at around 3:30am to basically say our goodbyes. When I arrived, my sisters were already there and had spoken to her. I held her hand. All I could think of was how much she would have hated to be looked at in that way; she was always so passionate about not lingering around if she couldn’t be herself. It was a long day for us. All seven of her children came from across states to be with her. Everyone wanted to know exactly what happened, which must have been torture for my Aunty who had lived it only hours ago and had to keep reliving it until everyone else was satisfied.
The cast of Glee, who sang, cried and spoke their way through the episode, must have been reliving their own experience over and over aswell. I felt the fourth wall was continually broken, as characters / cast remembered the character / actor. Many things that were expressed seemed to be more telling about Cory Monteith… While we all knew and loved Finn Hudson, we as the audience never really knew Monteith. I felt the cast were trying to convey the man’s true character rather then the created one we saw on screen. This was alarmingly sad as true tears fell down faces. The strength taken by everyone involved, to face their own grief internationally while undoubtedly still internally grieving, is commendable.
Puck / Mark Salling says at one point he is afraid to cry for fear he will never be able to stop. I understand that sentiment completely. I felt like that for so many days, like the tidal wave of grief was so powerful it would entirely overwhelm me. Once the smack of shock wore off, the tingling tears kept pressing against me, only satisfied when freely falling down my face. Then as soon as I think I’m ok again, a memory steps up and shakes more tears loose.
I remember while watching the episode, how excited my sisters and I were about Glee back when it started. We bought the albums and were invested in the characters like friends. I feel Finn is a friend I used to know and connect his absence to all the friends I used to know and the sweeter times we had, viewed with only positive lenses.
After watching Finn and Rachel’s innocent, ridiculous and plot-holed relationship build then learning Cory and Lea shared a real life relationship, I cry fresh tears when Rachel / Lea sings Adele’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love”. Apparently Lea chose this song because it personally related to her and Cory. Clearly the tears are real, the emotions naked for us to stare at and understand.
The storms are raging on the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain’t seen nothing like me yet
She must be thinking of all the things they didn’t do yet, as I am thinking of all the things I still wanted to do with my Oma. She probably has good people around her reminding her to focus on the memories they had, as I have people reminding me to remember the have-happened. But she must still ache, as I ache, for someone you can never again call up and just smile with.
Glee handled grief throughout the spectrum of its characters in different ways; anger, silence, denial, emptiness and emotional overload. The scene where Carole Hudson / Romy Rosemont despairingly cries out in distress perfectly exemplifies that woman’s grief. Although she is surrounded by her family, I know she feels as alone as I have felt, as though no consolation will ever be enough.
Yet when all the tears are cried, the episode finished, the show still does go on. Real life churns determinedly around us, the cast and the grief.
Well done Glee for actually honestly embracing the societal issue of grief, shame-free. And allowing me to reflect on my own grief critically.