After the popular actor on Glee, Corey Monteith, tragically passed away as a result of an overdose in July fans and fellow cast members were left with the need to grieve. The show made an effort to acknowledge his life and mourn a young life cut short through a special tribute episode. The episode aired nearly 4 months after Monteith’s passing and as cathartic as it seemed to be for viewers they were also left with unresolved questions. The show made no explanation as to the cause of his character Finn’s death but chose to purposefully omit this information instead focusing on his life. The topic of drug abuse could have been too sensitive an issue to handle on the show but after waiting months to find out what would happen to this character, fans were left confused and curious.
The episode was set several weeks after Finn’s funeral as the members of New Directions were asked to memorialize the character through song so that they can process their grief. Emotionally authentic performances were given by each singer, especially that of Lea Michele who was Monteith’s real life girlfriend. Her tears throughout her rendition of “Make You Feel My Love” expressed true pain and anguish at the loss of Monteith. The character Santana represented a complicated grieving process wrought with both anger and sadness as she broke down in the middle of her performance of “If I Die Young” and got into a heated conflict with Principal Sue. The principal regretfully admitted that there was no lesson and no happy ending to Finn’s death which was only “wasted potential”. These words seem to ring true for Monteith whose talent was lost due to his unfortunate addiction.
A Missed Opportunity
As painful and emotional as the episode must have been to make for these actors and everyone who worked on the show, some fans wondered why the cause of his death was never addressed. Not only to fill in the plot and provide closure for his character on the show, but also to acknowledge the actor’s real fatal flaw. Some considered the episode could have been an opportunity to educate young people on the dangers of drugs and prevent more untimely deaths. Instead the show chose to ignore the issues of drug abuse as the character Kurt says “Everyone wants to know how he died but who cares? I care more about how he lived.” Through this statement it seems that the show wants fans to forget about Monteith’s mistakes and remember only his positive qualities and the things that he accomplished as an actor. This can be a valid attitude to take and while there is no right way to grieve, some fans wanted more closure and more attention paid to the true cause of his passing especially after so many months of wondering how the show would deal with the actor’s death.
The death of Corey Monteith was a tragedy for everyone in his life and for the fans that loved him. Glee’s tribute to the actor and his character on the show was heartfelt and dealt with all the difficult emotions involved in grieving such a great loss. The only thing left out was the even more painful acknowledgement that drug addiction took his life and has also cut short the lives of many promising and talented stars. Ignoring the elephant in the room could have been a decision in tasteful respect but it also left things unresolved and avoided the opportunity of teaching an important lesson to the audience.