'Glee': Ryan Murphy says characters will graduate by 2012, but should any of them stick around?

GLEE-The-College-YearsWith all the rehearsing for Sectionals and frequent trips to Breadstix, it’s easy to forget that the kids of McKinley High School are actually students, who should be graduating in a couple years (well, in Brittany’s case, that date is TBD). Ryan Murphy has begun to address Glee‘s future by revealing plans to routinely add new students to the mix (what is this, Menudo?), rather than prolong current characters’ high school existence. “Every year we’re going to populate a new group,” Murphy told Australia’s Herald Sun. “There’s nothing more depressing than a high schooler with a bald spot.”

True, rival group The Hipsters didn’t exactly give an inspired performance on Tuesday night, but can you imagine Glee without its current stars? “I think you have to be true to the fact that here is a group of people who come and go in these teachers’ lives — they graduate and they’re gone,” Murphy said. “When some of them finish their run at high school it will be very teary episodes.” It’s no secret that graduation poses a challenge for television series; The OC, Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, and Gossip Girl have all had varied success transitioning to life beyond prom nights and basketball games (One Tree Hill skipped five years into the future, while Gossip Girl relies on its NYC locale to allow its characters to “attend” college while plotting a good old-fashioned take down). According to Murphy, these changes won’t happen until 2012, but is there any way some of the current Glee stars could stay in the picture? What if Santana became Head Coach of the Cheerios (only after Sue Sylvester was elected the first female President of the United States), and Puck continued his pool cleaning business only to marry a wealthy cougar (the return of April Rhodes!). Other characters are more complicated: Rachel has to leave Ohio, if only to secure multiple Tony wins by the time she’s 25 (which leaves no time for working at Dairy Queen after graduation), and Kurt probably belongs where his fashion sense will be more appreciated, and his Michael Kors will be protected.

But what about a post-high school Glee that follows our favorite characters? Yes, the cheesy goodness of Saved by the Bell: The College Years paled in comparison to the original (no Jesse, Lisa, or Mr. Belding, for starters), but it still gave you the same feeling you were looking for (with only half the calories). As one astute PopWatcher pointed out, high school show choir is only the beginning for the kids of New Directions. Why not send some of them to college where they can join a co-ed a cappella group or theater company? And if some kids aren’t continuing their education, but plan on sticking around town (i.e. Puck and his burgeoning pool cleaning business), GoogleMaps just showed me that Lima, Ohio is home to the University of Northwestern Ohio — and I hear the dorms are pretty nice? Problem solved! Impromptu sing offs all day long.

What do you think, PopWatchers: Will graduation day mark the end of Glee as you know it? Can you get behind the possibility of new characters, or are you in favor of still following Rachel, Finn, et al., through graduation and beyond?

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Katie Couric to guest star on Glee

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  • Somebody

    Even though some characters are better than others, I’d like that it’d be better if they stayed in this High School immortality state because I think everyone leaving will be bad.

    • Caiti

      I think it’s a great idea. Like, an attempt to keep it quasi realistic. It makes it like, half AI (discovering new talent) and half Desperate Housewives (for drama)

      • Mocha

        I agree. I think they should have characters graduate at different times and rotate in new ones (although it probably shouldn’t last for more than a season or two without any of the original cast members). It would also be nice to see some where-are-they-now episodes near the end of the series, or something like that.

      • caroline

        I AGREE. They don’t all need to graduate at the same time either. Start bringing in new people, and the Original Cast can come back on for occasional guest spots! Through this, Glee could still stick around for the next twenty years…..whoa.

    • Chris

      Degrassi rotates it’s characters just about every year and that show has been successful for a very long time now.

      • lisa

        Yeah, degrassi is the first thing that came to mind when I read this. They’re always getting new batches of kids on that show.

      • littlestranger

        But Degrassi also almost never writes off any characters. I think last season was the first time any of the older kids disappeared. They follow the original 7th and 8th graders through college and add more high schoolers along the way.

      • Ed-e

        Degrassi does it best at rotating characters, then of course ER. Every season, 3 or 4 new characters were added to ER in its entire run. I’m sure people were written the show won’t last any longer after George Clooney left to become a movie actor!

      • justin

        I am an avid Glee fan and I have to say I do not remember any of the characters saying what grade they are in specifically, nor any of the teachers. But I agree with the Degrassi example. They have already gone through like a dozen cast changes over the years and is still a popular show. Also, I think it would be smart to introduce some new blood when the cast (most or all) graduate it. I mean, I love a Rachel and Finn number, but do you really want to hear only them for the rest of the series run? It would get boring after awhile! Glee has the opportunity to last for seasons and seasons if they keep on bringing the talent and keeping relevant

      • Brett

        The television run of “Fame” saw several characters move on and several new characters come in. Occasionally, a major student character like Gene Anthony Ray’s “Leroy” stuck around, but for the most part, the kids graduated and were replaced.

      • Strepsi

        In 2 years COrey Monteith will be 30, so yeah I like the Degrassi model.

        LOL @ lisa re: “new batches of kids”… another fresh-baked dozen!

      • Khoi

        @justin: I don’t remember for the other characters but I do specifically remember Rachel saying that she was a sophomore in season one.

    • MCS

      Didnt Friday Night Lights successfully add new characters when others graduated?

      • Melissa

        Yep Friday Night Lights has lost characters and added multiple characters every season and its still been a fantastic show.

    • Flip

      It’s a school-wide glee club—why are they ALL from the same graduating class? Rachel, Finn and Puck could be a year or two older than Kurt, Mercedes and Tina. It’s kind of ridiculous that only kids from one particular grade signed up for Nude Erections.

      P.S. They should keep Puck and Brittany around by holding them back a year.

      • Kris

        Ryan Murphey never said that they all would graduate at the same time. I would assume they would weed out some of the background characters like Tina, Artie, and Mike first. I’m pretty sure Rachel is suppose to be 16 so she’ll probably be in it for a while.

      • kjh

        Im fairly certain that Ryan Murphy will have almost all of them graduate at the same time, or keep some of them for 4 years thus negating the timeline set up in the first couple episodes. He already dropped the ball when having Mute Mike transfer as opposed to being a Senior and graduating which wouldve made so much sense.

      • KarlHall

        Nude Erections. Excellent!

      • smith

        @KarlHall – Chris Colfer let it slip in an interview that “Nude Erections” is an in-joke amongst the writers and cast. They called it New Directions specifically because it sounds like New Erections.

      • smith

        er, last two words should say *NUDE erections. You get my drift. Bacically meant to say that Kris didn’t make that up himself…

      • Cody

        New Directions/Nude Erections is a subtle joke that dates back in my knowledge to at least the original off-broadway performances of Little Shop of Horrors.

      • Kaybee

        I’m so glad that Nude Erections is a joke with them and that it’s not just my dirty juvenile mind that hears that every time they say New Directions, lol.

      • Bree

        I completely agree! Considering also, that Finn and Rachel get most of the leads, I think it’s a great idea to have some of the underdogs be in the show longer! So we can have more opportunity to hear them sing. The number that Tina and Mercedes did was amazing! I’d love to hear more from them!

      • Katie

        It was Matt who transferred; Mike is Tina’s girlfriend. But they should let everyone get their own chance. I also hate how Sam and Quinn are the new power couple. It’s so cliche. They are basically copying last season with Finn and Rachel, and personally I think that new characters would reawaken what the show is really about: singing and having fun.

    • Alan

      Are they all in the same grade? Don’t you think it’s weird that every year the only Glee club members are all in the same grade? Especially since they are not even all friends. Does nobody older or younger join the club?

    • patar

      They should learn from Friday Night Lights, the best high school transition I’ve ever seen in TV series!

      • Emy

        The difference is that their coach is likable

    • Mimi

      Glee already rotates in characters…Chord and Blaine are new this year. And even has an emphasis on different characters … much more emphasis on Kurt this year, much less on Rachel/Finn. And some actors are basically gone — Emma’s first fiance, Mr. Schu’s ex-wife! Why would anyone assume that Glee can’t continue to grow by fading out (graduating) characters and continually to add new ones?? It already is and has been doing that!

      • Alan of Montreal

        I think Terri’s supposed to be coming back with her own storyline later in the season.

      • e4ia

        Terri will return for season cliffhanger when she announces that she is pregnant from the quickie when Mr Shue was sick with the flu…

    • Cara

      They can graduate and start their own glee clubs at other schools. Their characters can still be followed, with new ones still in school. Look at ER, that cast changed multiple times, and it lasted 15 years, I think I saw every episode. Good writing and good new characters. Murphy can do that for years. Looks at Nip Tuck, he’s a brilliant writer. They also can make 2 seasons appear like one full year in school, those kids are not going to age that fast!

      • Denise

        @Cara You do know that pretty much all of them are over age 25 right?

      • Laura

        Good point. I think if they rotated in new students that would be great. They can also bring previous members in for cameos or follow in other story lines. After all, Kurt left the school several episodes ago, and he is still around.

    • SHell

      NO, They must stay!!!!!!!!!!

    • Spinoff!

      They need to do a spinoff. It should be set in New York City and follow a few of the graduates living in a loft apartment/ going on auditions/ winning awards/ etc. It could be a cross between ‘RENT’ and ‘Friends’ and ‘Felicity’. I would watch that.

      • veronica

        brilliant idea – so would I!

      • Amy Leigh

        THIS is what I want for a few of them. Jesse St. James would have to be a part of that since just like Rachel he’s destined for Broadway.

    • Rush

      I see this show as three seasons and out. They can’t keep repeating the same song and dance schtick forever.

  • JS

    The college is called Ohio Northern University… its actually a pretty pricey school!

    • JD

      Nope, Ohio Northern is over three hours away from Lima. Also, University of Northwestern Ohio offers only business and technology programs…and has no Glee Club or anything of the like.

      • emymegs

        Sorry JD, you’re wrong. ONU is in Ada, 30 minutes from Lima. ONU kids go to Lima for the nearest Walmart.

        And yes JS it is extremely pricey! My brother graduated from their pharmacy program and will be paying it off forever…

      • Ken Baker

        I bet your brother makes about $80,000 per year as a pharmacist, I think he will b alright. The University of Northwestern Ohio is a tech. school for future auto mechanics….perhaps for Puck. They could make up their own schools anyway. They made up the high school. Instead of having an inner city, predom. black school…like in the real ohio, they have some predom. white school that is middle class.

      • SA

        There’s also an Ohio State branch in Lima that’s starting to expand. They could go there too.

        Its not Ohio without at least two small liberal arts schools within an hour.

  • Mr. Marmalade

    So the entire show choir was freshmen last year and no students from other grades have joined this year? Seems kind of silly. They should have mix of freshmen-seniors so every year a couple can rotate out and a few new ones can join the group. If the entire current cast graduates in one season, that’s going to suck.

    • Jobless

      I’m not sure they’ve ever made it clear what grade the kids are in. Obviously, if they are in high school for another year after this one then they had to be freshman or sophmores when the show started.

      • Abby

        Actually, it was confirmed in one episode that Rachel was a sophomore in the first season, other than that, it’s up in the air

      • A

        Rachel said in one episode that she was a sophomore, but her birthday that she mentioned in another episode would have meant she was a freshman at the time.

      • Flip

        You missed the point. It’s pretty stupid if the entire glee club (of 12 people) is made up EXCLUSIVELY of people from the same graduating class.

      • Hillary

        plus if they were all freshman last year it made the teen pregnancy a 14 or 15 year old. A little creepy for tv. Puck and Finn drive so they have to at least be sophomores.

      • Amanda Kiwinerd

        All the actors are almost 30 years old and they’re playing 14 year olds? What a stupid, brainless show.

      • Laura

        I agree with Hillary. I think Quinn, Finn, and Puck need to be the oldest due to the pregnancy scare. They also seem vocal and can drive. Lots of things point to them being older.

        They should definitely not graduate them all at the same time.

      • Lauren

        Ya. That’s true. We don’t know what grade most of them are in. Also, they can’t seriously all be in the same grade, that doesn’t seem very likely. Also, I totally ok with new people coming in, but I really don’t want the current characters to leave. They kinda make the show what it is

    • MC

      I’m pretty sure Rachel said she’s a sophomore in the pilot, so if they’re all the same grade then 2012 would be their senior year.

    • Flip

      I agree, it’s so stupid. They need to come out and state that they aren’t all from the same graduating class.

    • Alan

      I agree. Obviously if they graduate next year, they are all Juniors right now, but how strange that not a single Glee club member comes from a different class??

    • Applescruff

      I think Rachel said early on she was a sophomore. I don’t know that any of the others have ever specified.

  • Jobless

    How they handle this will pretty much determine whether Glee is a 3-4 season show or a 7-8 season show. The post high school years have killed many a TV show.

    • MC

      Good point. I think Glee’s great but I don’t know if it the the legs to be a 7-8 year show. It wouldn’t be a horrible idea to end it once the current characters graduate.

    • Q

      I think a lot of people are missing an important point: it’s OK to be a 3-4 season show. And it’s better to be a great 3-4 season show than a mediocre 7-8 season show.

      • Greg

        I completely agree. It’s okay for it to be a short-run show. If they go too far with it they might ruin the whole thing.

  • K

    I totally understand the dilemma, but Glee isn’t Law & Order…it’s not a procedural…you watch because you care about the characters. I’m not saying it can’t work…if they find incredibly talented people and slowly work them in while the current cast is there it might work (esp since Shue, Sue, Emma, etc. would still be on the show), but it won’t be the same. I’d almost rather just have the show last 4-5 seasons and end in a really satisfying way. If they do this, one of the kids should stay and co-chair the Glee club with Will. If they go this route, I at least hope the do a spin-off…Rachel and Kurt go to NY to become Broadway stars, that sort of thing.

    • Mr. Holloway

      Agree with what you’re saying.

      I think “Glee” is a five-season (tops!) show, regardless. (The ratings are great, but things are already somewhat spinning out of control creatively.)

      • ash.

        I so agree with you. I would much rather watch a show that has a predetermined finish date then to watch it continue into oblivion. I’ve watched shows before that have only had one season but it was filled with solid episodes. It was disappointing when they ended but at least they ended well.

    • maiv

      Makes sense, but there’s no way Fox is going to let this gravy train run off that quickly.

    • Kate

      I think there are successful models of non-procedural shows which rotate in new cast. Degrassi (CAN) and Skins (UK) are the first two that come to mind. And while I agree that ‘Glee’s’ success is derivative of an audience investment in the characters I don’t think the show would function in a post-high school world. It would be impractical to follow Rachel and Kurt in NY, Puck in jail, and the others where ever they end up because in each of those places you would need a whole new set of characters to interact with the mains. It killed the OC when they sent their cast around the states and still tried to keep you invested in all of them. I think as long as you kept Will and Sue, and Emma (?), you could keep changing the kids. I agree that not all of the kids needs to be part of the same graduating class- that would be slightly silly (though I don’t think RM was suggesting that they all graduate at the same time), but the actors who play Finn and Puck are already 28 so they will need to rotate them out soon. Kurt, Rachel and Mercedes seem younger, you could probably keep them around a little bit longer.

      • Adam

        I agree that if they actually do this the only 2 actors who should leave is Finn and Puck because they are alot mor older looking then the others as for Kurt, Mercedes and Rachel and others they still can pass for your younger.

    • J Lo

      Friday Night Lights dealt with the problem by spacing out the graduating seniors and introducing new characters. Almost all of the original teen characters have moved on but it still remains a compelling and critically acclaimed show.

  • Megg

    TPTB should start stretching out the school years to last more seasons. How about Regionals for the season finale and Nationals next year sometime?

    • Anne

      I agree…they shouldn’t feel married to the 1 season = 1 year format. Stretching that out a bit won’t land anyone in bald spot territory.

      • Another Anne

        That’s what I keep thinking. Slow it down just a tad. I find it hard to believe that senior year in particular doesn’t have enough going on (with or without glee competitions) to stretch it to 2 seasons.

      • AcaseofGeo

        EXACTLY ANNE! M*A*S*H made a 3 year war stretch out to ELEVEN SEASONS!!!! Its quality or believability NEVER WANED. I agree. One season does not need to equal one year. Right also about no one gonna be bald either.

      • V

        But the point is that the ACTORS are already getting too old to convincingly play high school students. Though, maybe it’s just cause I’m older now, but I think the Glee actors, even though most are in their mid to late 20s, do a better job of pretending to be 16 then the 18-early 20s range that were made such a fuss about with ’90s teen shows like Dawson’s Creek and Beverley Hills 90210.

      • Brett

        The flaw in your argument is that they’ve already established a one year, one season formula. That’s underscored by the fact that they’re in the same competition every year. Unless you’re going to have seasons where the characters don’t go to Sectionals, Regionals, etc., to focus on drawing out the school years….

  • K

    And I also think they need to make sure that not everyone graduates at once. It seems like Kurt is a little younger than the rest of them? And Briteny would totally have to do another year =)

    • Kathryn

      Chris Colfer is the youngest actor on the show, but in real life he’d be a junior in college right now.

      • Ben

        Kathryn, Chris Colfer was 18 when the show started. He had just graduated High School when the pilot aired. He would be a sophomore in college right now.

    • KarlHall

      I think Kurt would be younger than them, as would Tina and Mercedes. Rachel, Finn, Santana, Puck and Mike seem older. And Brittany would have to repeat 2 years.

      • kimmy

        Puck and Finn were hot shots on the football team. wasn’t Finn captain? a sophomore would not be captain. same w/ santanna, britney, and quinn. they wouldn’t be the head cheerleaders/mean girls if they were only sophmores. plus they are the oldest looking cast members….

  • Michaela

    i definitely don’t like the idea of having them introduce new characters just to keep the gimmick going. i think that, although these characters are certainly not the most fully realized on television, that they are important to making the show what it is, and replacing them with younger models is kind of like making multiple “Grease” movies–the sequels are never as satisfying.
    trade Will in for a college a capella group leader and they’re good to go.

  • LK

    Send them to Ohio University in beautiful Athens, OH where they can start the first ever “chorale” group (singing and dancing!) Let’s go Bobcats!

    Glee here means a cappella men’s group the singing men of ohio or SMO …amazing! but they don’t dance!

    • Brittany S. Pierce

      I agree.. have some of them go on to college choir. New Directions could go to their choir festival and watch them perform (and compete against other high school choirs — this is in the fall and no competition afterwards like State).
      Or the college choir could do a tour and come to McKinley.
      And of course, college kids sometimes go back and visit their teachers. Maybe Rachel could go to Broadway and reconnect with her mom Idina M?

  • Hen

    When does this kind of thing ever work out? They’d have to do it really well…

  • Miss Talk

    College Years don’t work on TV. They should make a movie about the club going on tour, and end the series.

  • Mr. Holloway

    I’m slightly bummed that, out of all the recent shows that have had to deal with this dilemma, you didn’t mention the one that’s handled it the best: “Friday Night Lights.”

    That show has done an outstanding job of introducing a new class of characters we’re supposed to care about while believably keeping old favorites in the periphery of giving them fantastic exiting arcs.

    The only problem is that I don’t trust the “Glee” writers nearly as much as I trust the “FNL” writers to pull something like that off.

  • Greg

    I think this is a good idea, these characters are already looking older than highschoolers in some cases, so yes towards the end of nnext season we should start seeing new faces.

    • maiv

      Yup, Finn, Puck, and Mike definitely don’t look like they belong in hs (aren’t they like, 27?)

  • Pinky

    If they can phase the new characters in gradually, I think it sounds like a great idea. The show is ridiculous enough without coming up with some crazy way to keep all the main characters in high school.

    Friday Night Lights pulled it off, why can’t Glee?

  • Jobless

    Thankfully we have another season and a half before we really have to worry about this as fans.

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