Remember When Glee Wasn’t That Bad?

After hundreds of musical numbers, endless hookups between characters and dozens of Slushees wasted, Glee ends its six-season run on Friday. What’s that? You didn’t realize Glee was still on? Or that it’s been six seasons? Or that it’s managed to stay on this long? Yeah, you’re not the only one.

Back when Ryan Murphy’s campy musical comedy made its debut in 2009, it became the hottest show on TV. They earned numerous awards (including a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Series, had best-selling albums, a successful concert tour, a series of young adult books and even a reality competition show to be on Glee.

And then it jumped the shark. And then it jumped the shark again. And then it did a semi-serious episode about school shootings. And then Cory Monteith tragically died and it was never the same again. But through all this, for some reason I’ve managed to stick with it. I would consider myself a high-functioning Gleek circa season 1 and 2, even going to said concert tour and meeting some of the cast during a CD signing. But as the show wavered, so did my dedication as a fan, and I put Glee somewhere in the middle to low end of my TV priority list.

As the show comes to an end, the writers are obviously (and rightfully so) trying to tie everything up in a nice bow and have things come full circle, while still creating a hopeful future for its characters. The show is called Glee, after all. As the glee club takes its final bow, I have been reminded that the show was actually really good at times, and I think that’s the legacy any series wants to leave, no matter how horrible it got towards the end. If a show’s good, it’s good, and how about we remember just how good those times were, shall we?

Halo/Walking on Sunshine

{Season 1, Episode 6}

Early on, Glee was known for taking hit songs and putting them together in “mashups”, which obviously isn’t a new idea, but the show brought the practice back into mainstream pop culture. Not only did they do that, but they did it well, and this was just the first of many. *This is also the ep where all the Glee club members are high on some nasal decongestant drug, which explains why they’re acting insane. See, it used to be hilar!

Jump

{Season 1, Episode 12}

I remember watching this thinking A) That looks like so much fun B) This is actually airing on network TV right now. Glee helped usher in musicals into the small screen, and this definitely helped it become as huge as it did.

Since U Been Gone

{Season 1, Episode 13}

In an effort to pay tribute to their teach Mr. Shue, the New Directions put together this number, and for eagle-eyed Gleeks, you’ll remember that choreo from all the numbers they had done up until that point were put into this performance, and I still see the image of Will running through the hall to confess his love to Emma burned in my memory.

Dream On

{Season 1, Episode 19}

Neil Patrick Harris won an Emmy for this guest starring role. I think that speaks for itself.

Faithfully

{Season 1, Episode 22}

Both Cory and Lea name this song their favorite from all the numbers they’ve done on the show, and it’s clear why.

Teenage Dream

{Season 2, Episode 6}

Remember when we didn’t know who Darren Criss was unless you saw him in the Harry Potter musical on the YouTube? Well this number marked the time he changed our lives forever.

Marry You

{Season 2, Episode 8}

Basically any scene between Finn and Rachel that give me romantical feels makes me cry because Cory’s gone, and this is a particularly sweet scene right before his mom marries Kurt’s dad.

Valerie

{Season 2, Episode 9}

I find myself saying ‘Santana is the only reason I’m still watching this show’, because she’s got a great voice but also her sass meter is off the charts, and she’s often the only one who can spit some realness into Lima, Ohio.

Last Christmas

{Season 2, Episode 10}

Yeah. Finn and Rachel forever.

Thriller/Heads Will Roll

{Season 2, Episode 11}

This was from the episode that aired right after the Super Bowl, and as customary for any network show that airs after the most-watched show of the year, the episode needs to pull out all the stops to keep people watching. This was a little weird because, zombies, but also great because it’s Michael Jackson AND it’s a mashup, which we know, Glee does so well.

Dreams

{Season 2, Episode 19}

Ah April Rhodes/Kristin Chenoweth. My favorite alcoholic on the show. Because of its popularity, Glee had the opportunity to perform songs out of sacred songbooks, including this episode, which was dedicated to Fleetwood Mac, and I’m glad this song was put in the hands of Cheno and Matt Morrison, a couple that will not fuck it up.

Let Me Love You

{Season 3, Episode 13}

I have said from the beginning that Artie/Kevin McHale is one of the best male singers on the show. It’s probably because I have a thing for R&B sounding voices, but I always hoped he would get more solos.

How Will I Know

{Season 3, Episode 17}

Because Glee is the show you watch to see it tackle hard-hitting issues and current events, they dedicated a whole ep to Whitney Houston following her death. They opened the show with this number, an acappella version of one of my personal favorite Whitney songs. It set the right tone for the rest of the show, and also proved bigger is not always better when it comes to musical numbers.

Don’t Stop Believin’

{Season 5, Episode 13}

File under: one of the times Glee could have ended but didn’t. This was from the 100th episode that aired last year, when a bunch of old Glee club members came back to pay tribute to Mr. Shue. And in full Full Circle moment, they sang the last song from the Pilot, and one of the show’s most well-known numbers, Don’t Stop Believin’. The original had Cory singing opposite Lea, but obviously the rest filled in, and as they all surround each other on that stage, I couldn’t help but tear up – and think it would’ve been a satisfying ending to the series.

#RIP: The Oddity of Celebrity Deaths

As I write this, it’s moments after the Parks and Recreation series finale. The episode left me, like many of you fans out there too, laughing and crying and alternating between the two. It’s a bittersweet moment as we say one final bye bye to one of the best TV shows ever to exist. I’m so, so glad with the way it ended, but in a weird place knowing it’s never coming back again.

It became even more bittersweet with the end card that read “We love you, Harris. – The Parks Crew”, a note I had been anticipating yet was just as teary-eyed upon seeing it. For those that might not know, this was a dedication to Harris Wittels, a co-executive producer, writer, and guest actor (Harris the animal control guy) on the show, who died last Thursday from a suspected drug overdose. He was 30 years old.

*This post gets deep. You’ve been warned.

I work in entertainment news. It is lit’rally my job to be on the “pulse” of what’s happening in the industry, so when my boss sent me the email of a news alert from TMZ with the headline “Parks and Rec Exec Harris Wittels Found Dead Signs of Overdose” and asked me to write it up, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I felt my heart drop a little. I remember having to read it multiple times to make sure I was comprehending correctly, and was kind of sick to my stomach after realizing it was real life. I checked online to see if anyone was talking about it yet, and slowly, then at all once, I saw “#RIP” and “so sad ::emoji sad face with tear::” sprinkled throughout my social media timelines. While social media condolences often seem contrite and insincere at times, I was especially moved to see his name trending worldwide, only because, forgive me, I just didn’t realize that many people were familiar with his work.

I didn’t know Harris personally. Of course, I was a fan of his through Parks, and I was a fan of his through his Comedy Bang Bang episodes, particularly of the ever ridiculous Farts and Procreation series. One thing we did have in common is that we went to the same college. He graduated two years before me, and while I didn’t know him then, Facebook tells me that we have mutual friends, that my former RA was his close pal, and that we both went to the same beloved study abroad program. Something to know about the school we went to is that it’s fairly small, with around 3,500 undergrads. There’s a joke that we’re part of a “mafia”, especially in places like LA and New York, because most kids who graduate go on to work in film, TV, theater, industries of that nature. Because there are so many alums in the entertainment industry, it’s one of those things where you’ll no doubt meet a fellow mafioso at a job you’re applying for or at a random party, and they’re most likely willing to help fellow grads out with a job or interview. When Harris died, I wasn’t just seeing randoms pay tribute to him online, I was seeing people I knew in real life. I got an email from the school career services center (because they send out job listings and LA events and stuff), with a note from one of the professors who counted Harris as one of his students, and who I knew from working with on an event back in the day.

In the email, he recalls how kind Harris was to the students in his classes, how he skyped in several times to answer questions about comedy or writing, and willingly gave out his email address for kids to contact them if they needed advice or help with a script. Mafia. Harris’ death hit a little closer to home for me than some, but I still didn’t know him, I’ve never met him, I didn’t know what he was like as a person.

But in the age where we listen to Comedy Bang Bang podcasts and watch TV shows like Parks and easily connect to people on Twitter and receive instant responses via Humblebrag, we feel like we do know them. We treat their death like they were our friend, our family, because they have been inside our homes, our cars, our headphones for years.

I don’t think I’ve ever been truly upset about a celebrity death until Cory Monteith. I was kind of a Gleek circa season 1 and 2, but, like many other fans, that petered off towards the end. I even went to one of their CD signings for the first soundtrack and got to meet Cory. It was brief. He had a huge smile. Had kind eyes. Very nice. But, again, I didn’t know him. He wasn’t my friend. But for some reason, when my friend told me the news of his sudden death – I can remember it so vividly – I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I couldn’t believe it. Watching the episode of The Quarterback where they say goodbye to him – forget it. I ugly cried through 98% of that. But what kept circling back in my mind is that Cory was a teen idol. There were tweens and teens out there who had posters of him up on their wall, and suddenly they find out he died from a drug overdose? The only thing I could compare it to would be if a member of BSB passed away from alcohol poisoning back in 1999. I would have been completely devastated and unable to properly cope with my feelings.

In addition, we live in a world where we not only feel like we spend so much time with celebrities in the privacy of our own homes, we now have the ability to reach out to them in a form that’s not a fan letter sent to some random Post Office Box on Santa Monica Boulevard. Kids these days have Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat. The chances of Harry Styles or Ariana Grande or Cory Monteith replying to your declaration of love or fan art is 10 times higher than me getting a signed autographed headshot of Leo DiCaprio in 1997. Celebrities just connect with people in such a different way now that we actually have evidence to prove that the delusional friendship might actually be… real.

And similarly, there are a handful of really important and powerful celebrities whose star status is enough for us to come together and agree that their body of work is worth praising. We had it with Robin Williams, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson in recent years. In the wake of their sudden deaths, we saw an outpouring of condolences and #RIPs for these people that most of us had never even come face to face with. But they were a part of our lives – their work marked important milestones for us, provided bonding moments with friends and family, and that’s why we mourn them. Not because we’re friends with them. But because their contribution to society made an impact on a single life.

All this TL;DR isn’t to say we shouldn’t grieve people in the public eye, especially when their passing is sudden and tragic. It’s that we should. And one step further, it’s to learn from it and let friends and family know you’re there for them and resources are always available if they think they’re going down the wrong path. I feel like I knew Harris through the Mafia. I encountered Cory’s kindness for a few seconds. But my sadness, like many others, shouldn’t be dismissed because it’s for celebrities we’ve never met. It’s because their lives still mattered to those who did know them. Their lives matter. Our lives matter. All lives matter.

 

Playlist of the Month: A Very Cookies + Sangria Christmas

Can you believe that Christmas is just DAYS away, you guys??? Unless you’re Jewish, or celebrate Kwanzaa or are the Grinch, so this doesn’t really apply to you. For this month’s playlist, the last and final one of 2013, we decided to stick with a traditional theme and go with our favorite holiday songs. I’m sure by now you’ve heard plenty of them on rotation already, but what’s a few more? Happy listening! And Merry Christmas/Happy Belated Hanukkah/Happy Kwanzaa/Happy December to all!!!

Click here to listen to the entire playlist on Spotify!
spotify:user:122917273:playlist:2SiQGCxAAb7WB1jPEf7nU9

Traci’s Picks

If Everyday Could Be Christmas – 98 Degrees

I’m warning y’all now, my portion of the playlist will be pop heavy and seem like a tween in 2000 made it. Mainly because I still feel like I am. I’m starting off with 98 Degrees, because I think this album was overlooked by a lot of people (I don’t blame you), but I think it’s actually their second best album out of anything they’ve ever released. Their strong suit was always their acappella skills, and it’s prominently shown in this song.

(PS: That video is ridic but the only version I could find!)

Maybe This Christmas – Ron Sexsmith

Anyone out there celebrate Chrismukkah? Anyone out there celebrate Christmukkah because of Seth Cohen? Well we can thank our fave faux Newport Beach resident for bringing that term into our lives, and we can also thank The OC for bringing great songs into our lives. Music was always an integral part of the show, and come Chrismukkah time, it was no different. I’ve been listening to this song ever since it was on one of the holiday eps and it never gets old.

Last Christmas – Glee Cast Version

Last Christmas is possibly my favorite modern day holiday song, and obviously many artists have covered it. I opted to choose this song featuring Lea Michele and Cory Monteith. I’ve never been a real hard core fan of the show, but for some reason his death really got to me and still gets me to this day. But it’s nice to know his talent and legacy will live on through the show and its music.

My Only Wish (This Year) – Britney Spears

This song was featured on the Platinum Christmas album which was released in 2000. For those who didn’t grow up listening to this like I did, it featured the biggest names in pop music including my beloved BSB, ‘N Sync, Christina Aguilera, TLC, Monica and more. I personally think this track by Brit Brit is one of her best in general, it’s just so fun and uplifting and you can’t help but dance to it. Speaking of dance to it, my friend and I may or may not have made up a ridiculous dance to this song in college. Private viewings available for a fee.

What Christmas Means to Me – Hanson

Snowed In. Classic Christmas album of the 90s and beyond. Zak sounds like a baby here, but hey, they still sound better than I ever did as a teenager.

*Ed. Note: We usually pick 5 songs each, but I couldn’t decide, so here are two bonus songs for as your Christmas bonus this year 🙂

It’s Christmas Time Again – Backstreet Boys

I like the Backstreet Boys and you can’t stop me from putting them on this list. So suck it. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Underneath the Tree – Kelly Clarkson

It’s about time KC did a Christmas album and her lead single is reminiscent of Mariah’s All I Want for Christmas is You. Although it’s nowhere near the popularity of MC, Kelly is giving her a run for her money with this jam.

Molly’s Picks

I Wish It Was Christmas Today by Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan

In the 2000 years of Christmas songs, is this really one of the best EVER? If you go by the giddy Christmas-y feeling you get every time it airs on the SNL Christmas episode, maybe it is. The great thing about this song – and I’d say this of the original SNL cast performing Winter Wonderland as well – is that while it somewhat pokes fun at stupid Christmas songs, it does so without being nasty or cynical. It’s pure holiday happiness.

All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey

90s kids know what I’m talking about. If you can, get your hands on All I Want For Christmas Is You (Extra Festive). How can you make this song MORE festive, you may ask? Well,  add some bells and shit and make the beginning of it sound like a song from Beauty And The Beast: The Musical. By the way, of course Ariana Grande has covered this and of course it’s amazing.

Once In Royal David’s City by Sufjan Stevens (cover)

I won’t fill the playlist with them, but my real favorite Christmas songs are all traditional hymns that are a little less common than Silent Night and Adeste Fidelis. So, imagine my delight that Sufjan Stevens has covered Lo How A Rose E’er Blooming, The Friendly Beasts, Once In Royal David’s City, Bring A Torch Jeanette, Isabella, and I Saw Three Ships

The Rebel Jesus by Jackson Browne

Leave it to Jackson Browne to cut through all of the sap and remind us what we message we really should be taking from the Christmas story.

Fairytale of New York by The Pogues

Sometimes you need a Christmas song with lyrics like  “you’re a bum, you’re a punk/ you’re an old slut on junk”.” Besides, I’m making my list first and in the spirit of the holiday, I should probably leave some of the White Christmas/Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas-like classics for my friend.