by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
THE FINAL EPISODES
FOX TV - 8 p.m.
After six long seasons of impromptu musical numbers, catty dialogue, bitchy feuds, breakups and makeups, love triangles, football players singing in the showers, cheerleaders getting pregnant, same sex relationships, interracial relationships, Transgender characters, handicapped characters, smokin' hot teachers, and every conceivable issue that an American teenager could be faced with (bullying, suicide, texting while driving, sexual experimentation, etc.), it's time to bid farewell to 'Glee.' Since its debut on May 19, 2009, the kids at William McKinley High School, a fictional school in the actual city of Lima, Ohio, have weaved intriguing - sometimes shocking, sometimes wonky - storylines with showtunes, rock ballads, and mash-ups, all tucked into choreographed scenes inside locker rooms, bathrooms, empty theaters, or within the walls of a choir room, where the show mainly centers around.
'Glee' was a ratings hit during its first three seasons, but audiences began abandoning the musical comedy by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, who also created 'American Horror Story,' afterwards for various reasons: far fetched storylines, less relatable characters, confusing dual settings in Ohio and New York, and unexplainable hiatuses. The final season has averaged under two million viewers, a steep decline when the Fox series drew in 13.66 million viewers for 'Hell-O' (Season 1, Episode 14) and 13.51 million viewers for 'Britney/Brittany' (Season 2, Episode 2); it peaked at 26.80 million viewers when 'The Sue Sylvester Shuffle' (Season 2, Episode 1) aired immediately after the Super Bowl.
Though it became gimmicky, the bright side of 'Glee' is that it consistently put the spotlight on the LGBT community. Characters were discriminated against for their sexual orientation, yet relationships still blossomed between pony-tailed cheerleaders and fashionable high school boys, not to mention this season's brave storyline focusing on the transitioning from female to male of Coach Biest (Dot Marie Jones).
The final two episodes of 'Glee' will air Friday, March 20 back-to-back on Fox, starting at 8 p.m.
Selecting the top 20 musical numbers by the New Directions, the glee club's official name, proved to be a much more difficult task than I envisioned, and while everyone probably has their own opinions and favorites, I trimmed it down to these, in order:
1. 'If I Were a Boy' (Season 5, Episode 5)
New to McKinley High, Transgender student Unique (Alex Newell) is bullied and escapes to the restroom to sing an emotional rendition of this Beyonce ballad. The scene moves to the choir room, where tearfully she's backed by strings and a piano.
2. 'Getting Married Today' (Season 4, Episode 14)
When Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays) gets cold feet on her wedding day to Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), she breaks out into this musical number from the 1971 Tony Award-winning musical Company. Kudos to Mays for her delightful, lightning speed version of this entertaining Sondheim song.
3. 'Dream On' (Season 1, Episode 19)
Before Neil Patrick Harris starred in Hedwig, he first showed the world that he could really sing on 'Glee' when he and Morrison wailed on this Aerosmith classic.
4. 'The Scientist' (Season 4, Episode 4)
Not that the 'Glee' ensemble gave Coldplay a run for its money, but their version of the pop-rock group's 2002 hit was stunning and included all its key players, minus Mercedes. The vocal arrangements were memorable and tied in nicely with the relationships-themed episode.
5. 'Keep Holding On' (Season 1, Episode 7)
Avril who? When the New Directions performed this tune in Season 1, it upstaged the original version by Avril Lavigne. Maybe it was the emotional storyline, Quinn revealing her pregnancy to the glee club, but it had more of an impact.
6. 'Dinosaur' (Season 3, Episode 19)
'Prom-asaurus,' the dinosaur-themed prom episode from Season 3, delivered some interesting musical numbers, including a cavewoman-clad Brittany (Heather Morris) singing this Ke$ha favorite on the gymnasium floor.
7. 'Somebody That I Used to Know' (Season 3, Episode 15)
Gotye's universal hit got a boost when nearly 7 million people watched Blaine (Darren Criss) and his brother, played by Matt Bomer, duet marvelously on it.
8. 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' (Season 2, Episode 10)
'A Very Glee Christmas' was one of the series' best episodes, thanks to an excellent selection of music, including this holiday classic wonderfully crooned by lovebirds Blaine and Kurt (Chris Colfer) inside a fire-lit room at the Dalton Academy.
9. 'A Thousand Years' (Season 4, Episode 12)
Season 4 newbies Marley Rose (Melissa Benoist) and Jake Puckerman (Jacob Artist) delivered a heartfelt rendition of this Christina Perri ballad that put their puppy love in the spotlight.
10. 'Don't Stop Believin' (Season 1, Episode 1)
This Journey hit became the New Directions' mantra and was performed multiple times during 'Glee's' six-year run. I particularly like when it was sung at the end of the pilot episode, when school jock Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) decides to join the geeky choir.
11. 'Get Happy / Happy Days Are Here Again' (Season 2, Episode 4)
Oh, these two. Rachel (Lea Michelle) and Kurt, bffs (best frenemies forever), rekindled this Barbra Streisand-Judy Garland gem with a sentimental rendition complete with Rachel wearing a knockoff of Babs' sailor blouse.
12. 'Red Solo Cup' (Season 3, Episode 8)
Toby Keith owes Chord Overstreet a thank you, if not a beer, for highlighting his quirky little ditty on Season 3. Overstreet's character, the hunky Sam Evans, gave the redneck party tune an adorable quality.
13. 'Defying Gravity' - (Season 1, Episode 9)
Rachel Barry vs. Kurt Hummel. The two go head-to-head for a solo on this Wicked number, when Rachel is offered the part first and Kurt's father complains to then-Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba) that it's discrimination. What a showdown!
14. 'Smooth Criminal' (Season 3, Episode 11)
Another showdown, this time between Santana (Naya Rivera) and the Warblers' Sebastian Smythe (Grant Gustin), dueling over a stripped-down rendition of this Michael Jackson mega smash that featured the Croatian duo 2cellos.
15. Americano/Dance Again (Season 4, Episode 1)
I'm not sure why Kate Hudson was overlooked for an Emmy nomination; her guest stint on 'Glee' during Season 4 as NYADA dance instructor Cassandra July was pure gold, especially when she performed this Lady GaGa-Jennifer Lopez mash-up that included some impressive choreography.
16. 'We Are Young' (Season 3, Episode 8)
Nobody has ever given 'Glee' credit for putting this fun tune out there, which had yet to become a hit and eventually won the NYC trio a Grammy for Song of the Year. It climaxed a great 8th episode of Season 3, where Santana, Brittany, Mercedes (Amber Riley), and Sugar (Vanessa Lengies) rejoin the New Directions with help from Quinn's string-pulling.
17. 'Love You Like a Love Song' (Season 3, Episode 19)
Also from the 'Prom-asaurus' episode came this Selena Gomez and the Scene smash that was actually better than the original, thanks to Rivera - sorry, Selena!
18. 'I Want to Know What Love Is' (Season 5, Episode 16)
Anytime Mercedes got close to a mic, it was everyone's cue to sit down and pay attention, She belted out a lot of great tunes over six seasons, but it was this gospel-tinged Foreigner cover that really blew me away, mostly because the vocal style suited her ferocious pipes to a 't'.
19. 'I Dreamed a Dream' (Season 1, Episode 19)
The casting of Idina Menzel as Rachel's biological mother was perfection, especially when the Broadway alum dueted gorgeously on this Les Miz favorite.
20. 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)' (Season 1, Episode 4)
When Kurt's dad, Burt Hummel (Mike O'Malley), catches him performing Beyonce's signature hit in a scarf and sequined gloves, it sets up a surprising chain of events, some that involve football players dancing on a field.
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