At last the Glee students (mostly in their twenties but whatever) are graduating. Moving on, leaving us with touching goodbyes.
In the prom episode, Rachel was cast as the underdog who has nothing while Quinn has everything. Rachel, prima donna, has never really fit well as the underdog, and this year’s final few episodes emphasize how badly that role fits. Rachel’s “president of fourteen clubs,” spoiled daughter of doting parents, the girl who gets a second chance after she blows her audition—really, what doesn’t she have? Then with her arrival as prom queen, and a big send-off scream at graduation, she gets even more.
Tina makes a fair point with her disgust at being the real underdog, and this protest echoes one the audience might have—all the stars are leaving! Every character we truly adore is moving on, leaving us with the dreadlocks guy, Irish guy, and mean girl who started her own singing group. But take heart—Tina, with almost no personality, will be the lead singer, the new Rachel-Quinn-Santana-Mercedes character. I’m not excited. All right, we still get Blaine (who should be in college by now if the “Original Song” Sectionals episode is to make any sense) and the fascinating Unique. But they’re graduating all the strong characters and leaving hardly anyone who’s had any storyline at all. Sure the new kids can sing, but that’s less than half of each episode.
In the finale itself, the flashbacks to the very early episodes were fun and delightful, reminding us how far the characters have come. Likewise, having the students sing their goodbyes was a sweet way to have them exit. Kurt’s “I’ll Remember” was quite touching, especially as the other students sang back to him. And “Forever Young” was Will’s perfect goodbye to them all.
All the “surprises” of the students’ futures weren’t all that surprising, truth be told. Three acceptances would have been too pat. Nonetheless, Rachel’s perfect future and final soliloquy song were a bit much.
All the parents’ unconditional acceptance of their children’s singing careers is idealistic of course. They’re leaving their small midwestern high school to try to become famous singers and actors in the top cities of the US—a reasonable plot point given that the show is trying to inspire hopeful teens to reach for the top. But some parents wouldn’t want their kids gambling everything on such a slim chance. In the sudden ending, one detects preachiness—that teens are too young to get married, that if teens don’t get into their dream schools they should try again. It may not be perfect, but the ending is consistent with the rest of the storyline—every single character spends their final moments boosting Rachel to the top. One wonders what Glee will be like without her driving the plot.