Tuned In

Glee Ends Next Season; Here’s How It Can End Right

The musical can no longer end as the story of Rachel and Finn's romance. It should refocus as the story of Rachel and Kurt's dreams.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Eddy Chen / FOX

On Wednesday, Glee creator Ryan Murphy confirmed something that had been guessed at for a while–that Glee’s sixth season will be its last–and added something that was probably evident since last summer: that with the death of Cory Monteith and the writing off of Finn, the show’s ending will have to become a very different thing. As TV Line’s Michael Ausiello wrote, Murphy said:

The final year of the show, which will be next year, was designed around Rachel and Cory/Finn’s story. I always knew that, I always knew how it would end. I knew what the last shot was – he was in it. I knew what the last line was – she said it to him. So when a tragedy like that happens you sort of have to pause and figure out what you want to do, so we’re figuring that out now.

Six seasons seems enough for Glee–more than enough, probably. Like a lot of high-school serials, it’s been showing its age, trying to keep up with its original characters while cycling in fresh blood, some of the new characters so obviously similar to the first generation that last week’s tribute to Monteith/Finn joked about it, with principal-turned-janitor Figgins saying (in reference to second-gen character Bree), “New Santana Lopez is right, Old Santana Lopez.”

With the series’ ending, Murphy planned–again, as many such serials do–to return to its beginning. And Glee, from its “Don’t Stop Believin'” beginning centered on Rachel and Finn and their love story. The loss of Monteith and Finn took that away, and much of the show’s emotional core with it.

But it could also force Glee, after a long erratic journey, to ask itself: what, beyond all the bells and whistles and Beatles-tribute episodes, is this show still about? My answer: dreams, and what they cost you, and how they are not always recognizable when they come true. And since Glee can’t close on the story of Rachel and Finn, it would make sense to refocus on the platonic, but also important and complicated, story of Rachel and Kurt.

From the first season, Rachel, Kurt, and Finn were really the triangle that supported most of the show’s emotional themes. With Rachel and Kurt–deep friends as well as intense competitors–the show was about what it was like to be young, talented, ambitious, and scared; it’s no accident that much of the best material in season 4 went to New York with the two of them. Since their first-season rivalry (the “Defying Gravity” duel in “Wheels” is still one of the show’s most memorable moments) through NYADA, they’ve fought and made up, supported and pushed each other.

They’ve often gone off on separate tracks (now Kurt even has his own engaged-too-young storyline), but on some level they knew each other better than Finn and Blaine knew them. They’re each bitten by the same bug; they each know what it is to have dreams so potent you have to chase them even when it hurts.

Glee has an impossibly large number of storylines to service now, and it’s not like Ryan Murphy is going to listen to me anyway. But I’d love to see a season six that leaves McKinley High behind as much as possible and refocuses on Rachel and Kurt beginning their adult lives in New York.

Glee could do that and still have an ending that, as Murphy says, “honors” Finn. He, after all, is a person that both of them lost—a part of their youth, their hometown, their family—on the way to becoming whatever they’re going to be. But the show’s forced change of strategy could give it a chance to end not as another teenage love story but as a show about how the arts can change lives, and how the song sometimes outlasts the singer.

35 comments
WaterGirl
WaterGirl

I love Glee and don't want to see it end.  There is still so much that can be done with it. So many unanswered questions about each and every person.  I want to see them reach thier dreams. I know everyone does not end  up seeing thier dreams come true, but in the movies you can. I don't want it to end in tears even with finn gone we have cried enough. i miss him too. Like you said FooBunny, Finn would not want her to morn forever.  Also he would  want her to  reach her dream and not come back home to be teacher.  I want to see Blaine and Kurt get married, they have struggled way to long. There is nothing wrong with a show ending and everyone getting thier dreams come true. We have way to many unhappy shows. We need more happiness.

FooBunny
FooBunny

Yes the show should end on reaching your dreams amidst adversity.  However, the show is also a coming of age piece that involves personal relationships and life as we go through it.  Yes we need to see Rachel and Kurt reach there dreams, but we also need to see it for the rest of the original cast.  We also need to see someone fail, because we all don't make it.  I also think Rachel needs to find love again, but not until much later in the season and possibly just a friend at that point.  One of those life lessons is that love can come around again.  Finn would not want her to be alone.  If the gist of the ending was supposed to be Rachel and Finn, then the next ending should have Rachel finding love again and this time following through.  There should be a big part of her seeing the regret in not marrying Finn when she had the chance of course.   I agree that Lima should end with this current season; focus on the orginal cast.  Have the New Directions win Nationals again and Mr. Shue feeling secure in leaving them on thier own to pursue his Broadway dreams.  I don't think we know enough of the orignal cast's dreams to know what they really want... maybe this season solidfys that story piece.  Next season we see how all their reletionships develop .. they may remain friends but distance changes things and not always for the best.  With so many strong personal dreams with Rachel and Kurt and even Mercedes, there should be some real jealousy and see how it plays out in adult life.  Santana would be great in that kind of a story line as well, but we still need to know what be famous really means for her.  Are they still able to remain life long friends as they move away from each other and pursue their own life goals?  How do the grueling schedules of rehearsals and college play out for them?  Maybe Artie cam create a broadway show to film piece or just direct a show?  If he does, will his friends help him.. will we get to see the real struggle that happens in trying to get something like that off the ground.  It could be a nice tie in for the rest of the cast that have other dreams; something like Quinn being a lawyer for Artie and maybe Puck helps find financing.. then you can have the rest of the cast star in the show or provide other supporting roles.

PRLoveNewGirl
PRLoveNewGirl

Great article.  Rachel and Kurt have long been the heart and soul of Glee and their friendship one of the best developed.  I know how much they've loved Finn and Blaine, but in many ways I also consider Kurt and Rachel each others soul mate.  I think re-focusing on them would be the smartest way to end the show.  That's not to in any way put down other great characters like Santana who has been a great addition to NY and would be an important part of these stories. Hopefully they bring a few of the better characters to NY and focus on the dreams there with Rachel and Kurt as the heart and soul of the show like they were in the beginning.

Heather_0hi0
Heather_0hi0

I enjoyed your article, James!

I think the death of Finn's character should remain a plot point going forward. Not that they should dwell on it, but the original characters have been through a lot together. They have grown and learned from each other through their differences. If Finn was such a strong anchor in the group, the group won't likely move on easily.

How would I like to see the series end? In a nutshell, Rachel performs on Broadway and gets rave reviews. Yet, she feels empty. She finally achieved her dream, but realizes that maybe her dreams have changed from when she was a student at McKinley. She takes her credits from NYADA and transfers to a college in Ohio, where she earns her teaching degree and returns to Lima to teach elementary students. 

As far as the other characters, I haven't thought that far ahead. 

glitter1231
glitter1231

Fantastic article! I wholeheartedly agree that they should drop Lima to focus on NY. People fell in love with Glee for the characters not the choir room, so it makes sense to follow these kids' journey as they get older. 

Excellent point about focusing on Kurt and Rachel's story together, particularly as both of them had very strong relationships with Finn, it's a great way to honor Finn, and to honor Kurt and Rachel's relationship. Also Chris and Lea are one the best actors on the show with lots of chemistry, so I wish Glee would utilize them more. 

Standard
Standard

You are grossly overstating the important of the Rachel/Kurt relationship in a show where they barely interacted for the first two seasons. And greatly underestimating the importance of Santana in New York.

McWhadden
McWhadden

Prior to Season 3 Rachel and Kurt weren't close, at all. And Rachel has had more potent emotional scenes with both Quinn and Santana than Kurt. Both were there for her during huge emotional times and Kurt even called them in and then had nothing to do with it when she wanted to do a naked scene. Quinn was the one telling Rachel she would be something big and she shouldn't waste her time on a Finn as early as Season two and through out season three. Santana was the one holding her as she cried during her pregnancy scare, telling her she needs to get back to the old Rachel Berry (and that she didn't need a guy), and dancing on tables to get her noticed for Funny Girl. Kurt wasn't there for most of that, at all. 

And if they were the most memorable part of season 4 why were critics all over so happy when Santana showed up in New York and finally injected life into the plot?

Kurt and Rachel were never particularly close except on a superficial level.  They have their forced friendship now based on going to the same school and the same general goals. Their deepest moments were always with others.

TheShowWatcher
TheShowWatcher

"But the show’s forced change of strategy could give it a chance to end not as another teenage love story but as a show about how the arts can change lives, and how the song sometimes outlasts the singer."

Yes!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!! Stop using the lazy teenage love story-lines, Kurt and Rachel do not need a significant other. Let Glee focus on this wonderful friendship that these two characters have and focus on their dreams, their ambition, their drive, their challenges, their successes, their failures and their love and support for each other. It would be nice to see this for Santana too and again, stop with the 'they need a significant other to be happy' nonsense. Let all three characters focus on their dreams and on experiencing all that New York can offer. There is so much potential in this, and Glee. if they focus on this and give these wonderful and talented actors storylines for their characters that they can really get their teeth into, instead of wasting all that talent and potential on sad, cliche relationship/love stories, Glee could actually make the last two seasons as successful as the first two and really go out with a bang . 

E.m.Tinse
E.m.Tinse

Very good article. Also everything you said is spot on. Thank you.

Al_1986_
Al_1986_

I would love it to focus on these two and end Lima once and for all.   That does not mean that they still can't explore being open to love for Rachel and while Kurt sadly is stuck with Blaine. 

buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

It better end soon. 30 year old high school students? Smother it with a pillow.

eagle11772
eagle11772

It was a decent high school show but there was too much singing and dancing in it.  Real high school kids don't do that MUCH singing and dancing.  Degrassi's a better show.  And Riley Stavros (Argiris Karras) is CUTE ! :) 

ShowThemWhat
ShowThemWhat

As I see it, the rest of the story left to tell was not just simply about the romance of Rachel and Finn -- it was about the dreams of each of them, and the direction of each of them, and whether it was possible for them to find a way to mesh different dreams and directions together.  The romance itself was always a metaphor for one of Glee's central themes -- whether opposites can come together and find a way to coexist, and whether people are stronger by allying themselves with others whose strengths complement their own weaknesses.  

The Glee club itself was about this story -- very different people from very different segments of the school coming together and creating a group that was able to win precisely because the whole, composed of all of the different pieces, was stronger than any of them individually.  

Finn and Rachel were the center and the embodiment of this theme.  Finn was the directionless guy who felt like he was nothing special and didn’t understand why his world looked up to him.  He was filled with self-doubt about his abilities and dreams.  And he was an other-focused leader able to relate to others, to see the value in others, and to bring others together.  Rachel was the directed-from-the-womb girl who knew she was something special and was driven to prove it to the world.  She was super-confident in her talent and ability to achieve her dreams.  And she was so focused on herself that she had difficulty figuring out how to relate to others, was reluctant to admit that others had value and deserved a turn in the spotlight, and was more likely to drive people away.  

From Rachel, Finn learned about what it could be like to have a sense of direction.  From Finn, Rachel learned how one could put others before herself.  The driving forces in the story they occupied were whether they could each incorporate the lesson they learned from the other in their own lives and, as two very different people, find a way to be together. 

On an individual level, in many ways we’ve seen Rachel learn her lesson and find ways to have real, deep relationships with others; a question still remained if that would hold true in the competitive world of show business.  We never really saw Finn’s lesson played out – whether he could truly find a direction and dream that would ignite his passion and lead him to believe in himself. 

The story left to tell through their relationship was whether these two different people who seemed to be on opposite paths in far away places could find a way to make it work together, or whether different dreams and paths created a fundamental incompatibility that would result in them leading different lives in different places. 

How their relationship worked out was meant to tell us if Glee’s central message about complementary opposites coming together to create a stronger whole is something that can work and be sustained in the real world, or if time and differences inevitably lead people to wind up with those who are like themselves. 

Kurt and Rachel are like each other; they are exactly like each other.  In a very real way, they are the female and male versions of the exact same character.  With the two of them remaining as the focus, there is no longer a story about opposites complementing each other, or about people who are different finding a way to work things out and draw on each others’ strengths to help with their own weaknesses.  Instead, it’s a show about two people who are exactly the same going after the same things.

For me, their dynamic has always been the most entertaining and worked best when we’ve seen the ways in which this similarity leads them to be in conflict with each other since they are both fighting to occupy the one spotlight and to win the same prize, whether it be competing for the solo or, in Season 1, competing because they both had hopeless crushes on the same guy. 

The show can no longer fulfill its series long message about opposites finding a way to come together as planned, because Finn was absolutely essential to delivering that message.  And with his loss, it has lost the story about whether a person who felt utterly ordinary could realize he was something special and believe in himself. 

With a focus on Rachel and Kurt for the remainder of the show, what we’d be left with is a very different story about whether there is room enough for identical competitors to find their own spotlights.  It could work as a story.  It might be what the show has to make work.  But it will make for an entirely different show with an entirely different focus and message.

Sean_C2
Sean_C2

@FooBunny Quinn is studying drama at Yale, so she's not planning to go into law.  Puck's going into the armed forces.

gunnyking
gunnyking

@FooBunny I hope they stay within reasonable limits of age.  Quinn could not become a lawyer in a year or two.  I like the journey of people in their first couple of years away from the nest as they evolve from one set of dreams to another whether they become greater or smaller.  It appears Kurt is having second thoughts about Broadway stardom and that is probably a good thing unless he wanted to write his own scripts for guys like himself (see West SIde Story episode).  Rachel will likely achieve her dream and that is appropriate for someone who has worked on it since she was 4 years old.  I am curious about Santana and Britney, although not as a couple, but as individuals.  I wasn't really engaged that much with the storylines of Puck, Artie, Mercedes, Tina and Mike.  I'll keep watching.  

wsho
wsho

@Standard Barely interacted in season 2? IDK what version of season 2 you watched but in the one i saw they actually followed the story of their growing friendship from the 4th episode all the way through to the season finale. You may not like their friendship but it is and always will be one of the most important relationships on the show. IMO it's also one of the most well developed, from their first interactions in Wheels and Hairography all the way through to now. I love all 3 of the New York characters, together and apart, and their friendships are easily my favorite part of the show but i think you are overestimating Santana's importance. 

wsho
wsho

@McWhadden LOL why am i not surprised that you think Kurt/Rachel only have a superficial friendship, while praising the "friendship" she had with both Quinn and Santana. She hasn't had a friendship with Quinn since season 3 and even back then I don't think you could find a more forced, unnatural and fan pandering relationship on the entire show. I definitely enjoy Rachel/Santana now but that is only a very recent thing, they spent the best part of 3 seasons at each others throat. The writers set up the Kurt/Rachel friendship at the start of season 2 and have followed it ever since. They have shared numerous deep moments with each other over the last 3 seasons and you have to be purposely obtuse to ignore every single one of those. Who was the first person Rachel hugged when she won the role in Funny Girl? Kurt. Who flew from New York to Lima at a moments notice and then lead Kurt step-by-step through his proposal? Rachel. Rachel even considers Kurt her soulmate. As much as i enjoy some of the relationships on the show the one between Rachel and Kurt is easily my favorite. 

glitter1231
glitter1231

@McWhadden Rachel and Kurt became close friends in Season 2, see Born This Way and New York. 

LOL Santana and Quinn being there for Rachel? They bullied her pretty badly, and Santana only stopped towards the end of Season 3. 

If Kurt and Rachel is forced to you, then Quinn and Santana are even more forced. Telling Rachel to dump Finn isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for a good friendship, when both girls had ulterior motives to break up Finchel. 

gunnyking
gunnyking

@Al_1986_ I think a romance for Rachel is wrong.  She needs to know she can do this on her own without a boyfriend - that whole Brody thing was a waste of time.  Kurt, Rachel and Santana are 19 or 20 on the show.  I'm ready to let go of Lima, but I'm not sure I want them all to come to NY either.

TheShowWatcher
TheShowWatcher

@Al_1986_ They need to stop with the 'soulmate endgame storylines' Free Rachel and most especially free Kurt. He is stifled. Let him find himself, before he even contemplates settling down with someone. The engagement storyline was so forced and so manipulated in Glee's desire to have a new 'it' couple. It is a terrible relationship, yet suddenly Glee are trying to gloss over all the problems the relationship has, in order to make it into some kind of fairy tale romance. Give Kurt back his independence and focus on the amazing relationship of Kurt and Rachel.

Al_1986_
Al_1986_

@buffalo.barnes102  the two characters he is talking about are not in high school.  And wow this is such an old argument.  Most movies/tv use older actors to play teens.   

elsbethwriter
elsbethwriter

@eagle11772 Glee is about a GLEE CLUB.  Singing and dancing is what a glee club does.  The show is about performing. Music. Dance. Get it? And if you didn't have the "theater kids" singing and dancing in the halls of your high school, then it must have been a really boring four years. I was a theater kid and we sang all day long. (Dancing not so much, the principal kinda frowned on that LOL.)

gunnyking
gunnyking

@ShowThemWhat Well done.  I've thought for some time that Finn was the unlikely hero and FInchel, the unlikely couple,  and that was at the core of the show.  I also agree to some extent that Rachel and Kurt were so much the same - huge entitlement issues.  I burned out a little on Kurt when Blaine entered the picture.  In fact, I burned out on the whole show at that time because I couldn't place Blaine in anything but the most obvious role of boyfriend.  Plus, it was frustrating the number of times the Warmblers sang; I was happy with the group we had from the start. 

I do not think that Rachel needs any love interest - none.  She really needs to be able to do this on her own and learn she can be liked and be successful without a boyfriend.  I thought that made her look weak - Finn was the exception.  I see the final scene as her winning a Tony and thanking Finn in her speech.  If they want to honor him, that would be best because he gave up a lot and helped her so much to be that star.  I could see a whole show of Rachel preparing her acceptance speech and remembering scenes from the previous seasons.  And, I would like to see more of her parents (Idina as her manager) and that Rachel stays in touch with Finn's mom.  All done.

McWhadden
McWhadden

@ShowThemWhat Kurt and Rachel aren't that much alike despite the superficial similarities and goals. Kurt is much more reserved and doesn't like to wear his emotions than Rachel could ever be.

 And it seems like everyone is forgetting they aren't exactly alone in New York.

Al_1986_
Al_1986_

@ShowThemWhat  no the focus would still be following your dreams.    Just curious have  you ever commented in 2 sentences or less?      

buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

@elsbethwriter 

What high school was this? I went to high school in Southern California and, uh, don't recall any "theater kids". O-o-o-oh! Those guys. Never mind. 

eagle11772
eagle11772

@elsbethwriter Um, no.  I didn't know that.  I thought "Glee" just meant "happy".  I guess I missed that part.  And it was tough enough surviving in Commack South being Irish, let alone seeing people singing & dancing in the hallways.  It just didn't happen.

ShowThemWhat
ShowThemWhat

@Al_1986_ I had no idea you, or anyone, followed the things I post (almost never here, actually) so closely.  Nice to know people are paying attention; thanks! XO

ShowThemWhat
ShowThemWhat

@Al_1986_ I see your sarcasm-detection meter is not quite working. :)  You'd know, if you bothered to read what I write, that when I talk about Finchel it is not to talk about Finchel simply as a romance story.  It's because that relationship on Glee was a metaphor, and metaphors are important.  The main metaphor of Glee, always, has been about people who are different being stronger when they are together instead of apart.  Rachel Berry said it back in 1x03: "We'll win because we're different."  That message has always been more important to the show than anything else -- even more important than going after dreams -- and the relationship between the two very different characters of Finn and Rachel was the metaphor to deliver the message.

gunnyking
gunnyking

@ShowThemWhat Unfortunately, we are in the new world of 250 characters or less.  There are a few of us left who actually enjoy reading developed thoughts. 

Al_1986_
Al_1986_

@ShowThemWhat  sorry don't usually read the whole thing just see you name and several paragraphs on many different web sites.  It is pretty much the same answer Finchel.     Here the idea is actually a good one since it can't be Finchel (which I was fine with).  So following Rachel the lead from the start and Kurt would be way better then the alternative of the newbies or Blee.   You interpretation is true in a sense for Finchel but overall  glee is about following your dreams so we can still see that with these two.