I came to peace with the fact that Glee cast members Chris Colfer and Lea Michele wouldn’t be returning in season 4 after the season 2 finale, when Rachel mentioned to Kurt that she’d always wanted to move to New York City. (If that wasn’t an intentional seed for a spin-off, someone on the Glee creative team has a lot good ideas stored in their brains, probably on the same shelf where they’ve been keeping all of Tina’s plotlines.) While Ryan Murphy has made no spin-off announcement, this anticipation of what seems inevitable helped soften the blow when it was made official yesterday that the duo and Cory Monteith’s Finn Hudson would not be returning after next season. (But, to be fair, we were also officially warned about this.)
What has surprised me has been the reaction from fans, who seem split on the issue. In one corner, you have the devotees who, burnt by the often lackluster second season, laud the turn-over, saying it could be a new beginning for the show. EW commenter Swarles Barkley (that’s a pretty amazing name) said, “This would actually cause me to come back to this show. I stopped watching about a quarter of the way through the second season. There was no real direction and the main characters became so annoying.”
Indeed, a rolling cast list has done some shows good in the past. I’ll admit that it took me some time to warm up to the “new kids” on Friday Night Lights, which ends its run tomorrow on NBC, but it was a well-done transition. What I loved most was that the new blood didn’t try to be the new versions of the old characters. They were new characters with completely different outlooks and goals. Glee could learn a lot from what Friday Night Lights accomplished: a seamless, realistic transition. The problem? “Seamless” and “realistic” have never been Glee‘s strong points, which is not to say they couldn’t be. But the question is: Is Glee looking to be the less-attractive comedy cousin of Friday Night Lights… or Saved By the Bell: The New Class?
Also, what about Rachel, Kurt, and Finn? I certainly can’t speak for all fans of the show, but I largely enjoyed them as characters. (Let’s, for a moment, put aside any disservice done to their arcs.) Kurt is vulnerable but strong, Finn is an adorable airhead, and Rachel is someone who tries so hard, I want her to get what she’s looking for. Maybe this will change by the end of the season (and it very well could), but I’m not quite ready to let them go. For that reason, I’d certainly give a spin-off a chance — if only to see if these characters get the stories I’d always hoped they’d get.
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