"Glee" took its final bow Friday, and although lots of people had already left the show behind -- some even after Season 1 -- I clung to it. No matter how bad, boring, cheesy or depressing it got.
Because I am, and perhaps always will be, a Gleek. I have been one since spring 2009, when Fox held the show's premiere at my alma mater, Santa Monica High School.
A choir member's mom worked for Fox at the time, and the show was looking to hold the premiere at a school. The mom offered up Samohi, and that was that.
As a member of one of the top two choir ensembles (how Rachel Berry of me to phrase it that way), I was required to sing at the event, which was at our school's outdoor amphitheater.
It was cool to have a show hold its premiere at our school. But we had no idea what this show was or who any of the actors were. To us it was just another performance on the long list of end-of-the-year shows.
We freaked out over Amanda Bynes, and some others knew Jane Lynch -- not yet loved and hated as "Glee's" coach Sue Sylvester -- from her role in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." But only the die-hard Broadway fans knew Lea Michele, who played Rachel. And that was about it. Other cast members blended in with us teens.
There were snacks (cotton candy, slushies, popcorn), swag (red "Glee" shirts) and of course, a red carpet, just outside the amphitheater.
In video footage of cast members being interviewed before the premiere, they said they were excited to "see a reaction" from the audience because no one else had seen what they were doing except them.
Once it was showtime, my high school's cheer team performed a routine to "Don't Stop Believing," the significance of which no one yet understood. Next it was our turn to sing an a cappella version of the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love." (Choir makes a brief appearance at 1:27 in this grainy YouTube video.)
The episode aired, followed by a Q&A (here's part of it) with the cast and producers.
I was hooked -- and I wasn't alone. The show became a phenomenon after it launched on Fox in September 2009, my first semester of college.
Labeling yourself a "Gleek" was a common. The show's soundtracks were on top of the iTunes charts, the cast went on a concert tour across the nation and Michele (and costars Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Chris Colfer plus many others) became household names.
"Glee" drew in big names in Hollywood, with its guest stars including Britney Spears, Gwyneth Paltrow, Neil Patrick Harris and John Stamos. There was even the spinoff reality show on Oxygen called "The Glee Project," which brought in real, young people to compete for a role on the show.
All shows come to an end, however, and "Glee" eventually began slipping in ratings. As the fandom died out, the show even moved to a Friday night slot for its last season.
Though people complained of the lagging storyline, I couldn't get enough of the songs. Showrunner Ryan Murphy had this ability to tug at my heartstrings. I didn't care as much for the new generations of New Directions, but I always loved the Glee club.
This song in the last episode -- One Republic's "I Lived" -- was the right way to say goodbye. As the "Glee" characters' lives unfolded on screen, I lived my life singing along. Until the very last note.
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