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Graduation Date: Several Big Stars to Leave Glee

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I’ve had my issues with Glee this past season, and written about them here, but one thing I have to give it credit for. The producers said from early on that they planned to have the high schoolers graduate on time—real time, not TV-teen-show-time—and it looks like they’re sticking by it, popularity or no. Producer Ryan Murphy confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Chris Colfer, Lea Michele and Cory Monteith are leaving the show after season three.

That is news enough in itself: if there is one thing that teen shows have taught us, it is to expect the discovery of a very nearby college for the popular characters to matriculate in after high school. But the particular actors who are not returning (of course, we don’t know yet who else will be leaving) also suggests something about the direction of season three.

One of the central questions of Glee since it began was whether these three characters in particular—Kurt, Rachel and Finn—would ever make it out of Lima; whether there was a Broadway career out there for Kurt and Rachel, whether Finn would stick around and become a “Lima loser.” Obviously we can only guess what’s in store for them and how it will play out (will they go to college? will Finn and Rachel be together?). But Murphy’s willingness to confirm that they’ll be out of the picture at least strongly suggests that their characters will make it out of their hometown.

In any case, it suggests a focus onthe characters’ ambitions, which are more interesting to me than their love triangles—and Murphy seems to agree. “I’m much more interested in Lea’s character — not so much on her relationship with Finn, but more on what her dreams are beyond high school and how she plans on getting them,” he says. (He also notes that he hasn’t actually discussed Monteith’s departure with the actor: “He knows he was a sophomore when the show started.” Nice.)

I don’t know if this means season three will give us a better Glee, but a serious commitment to change and realism at least promises a more interesting show. Anyone want to make the case for keeping the characters around?