Glee is a musical comedy about a group of ambitious and talented young adults in search of strength, acceptance and, ultimately, their voice. From 2009 to 2015, the series followed a dynamic group of high school students from the halls of McKinley to the mean streets of New York City, as they embarked on life after high school.
Since its debut, Glee has become a bona fide cultural phenomenon, received prestigious honors, including a Golden Globe Award and a Peabody Award, and singlehandedly made glee clubs cool again. The series boasts critical acclaim, a die-hard fan base, two Grammy Award nominations, two Platinum and five Gold albums, more than 53 million songs and more than 13 million albums sold worldwide, two sold-out concert tours, a 3-D movie, four Emmy Awards and three Golden Globes, including the award for Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical. The series reached its milestone 100th episode this past season with a memorable rendition of the hit that put the show on the map, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Glee’s first season introduces viewers to optimistic teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), who - against all odds and a malicious cheerleading coach - attempts to save McKinley High's Glee Club from obscurity, while helping a group of aspiring underdogs realize their true star potential. It's a tall order when the brightest stars of the group include Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer), a soprano who hits a high note in fashion; Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley), a larger-than-life diva with a voice to match; Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale), a geeky guitarist who rocks and rolls; and Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz), a punk rocker who hides behind her stutter and blue hair extensions.
Will's only hope lies with two true talents: Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), a self-proclaimed star who is convinced that MySpace and show choir and are her tickets to fame; and Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), the popular high school quarterback with movie star looks who must protect his reputation from his holier-than-thou girlfriend and "Cheerios" head cheerleader, Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron), and his arrogant football teammate, Noah “Puck” Puckerman (Mark Salling).
Will is determined to do whatever it takes to make Glee great again, but his only ally is fellow teacher and germaphobe Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays). Everyone else around him thinks he's nuts - from his tough-as-nails wife Terri Schuester (Jessalyn Gilsig) to McKinley's scheming cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) - but he's out to prove them wrong.
Following the McKinley High Glee Club’s loss at Regionals the year before, season 2 sees the group pick themselves back up again for another shot at the Nationals championship. The club honors Britney Spears, Kurt’s mom and Finn’s dad marry and the show sees some high-profile guest stars like Gwenyth Paltrow, Kathy Griffin and John Stamos.
The season also tackles a number of issues affecting teenagers, including underage drinking, religion, sexuality, rumors and bullying – the latter of which causes Kurt to transfer schools, where he meets new main squeeze Blaine Anderson. Meanwhile, Tina and Mike start dating as well as Artie and Brittany, and sparks fly between Quinn and new Glee Club member Sam Evans – although their relationship takes a turn when a complication arises in the form of ex-boyfriend Finn.
Heather Morris, Naya Rivera and Mike O’Malley join the main cast this season as Brittany Pierce, Santana Lopez and Burt Hummel, respectively – expanding on their roles in the previous season.
The McKinley High Glee Club returns in season 3 for yet another chance at the Nationals championship after their New York City loss. While the club reels from their defeat, their visit to the Big Apple has only emboldened Kurt and Rachel. As the two focus on the New York Academy for the Dramatic Arts for their post-graduation plans, the rest of the club have their own futures to consider.
Blaine transfers to McKinley to be with Kurt, Will proposes to Emma, Sue and Burt run for Congress and several new students join the Glee Club, including Blaine, Irish transfer student Rory Flanagan, dreadlocked heartthrob Joe Hart and the well-off, self-confident Sugar Motta. Meanwhile, Rachel’s birth mother Shelby Corcoran (Idina Menzel) is hired to start a rival glee club at McKinley, causing a rift within the New Directions. After a rollercoaster ride of a season featuring tributes to Whitney Houston, the music of Saturday Night Fever and Michael Jackson, as well as appearances by guest stars like Ricky Martin, Idina Menzel and Whoopi Goldberg, several of the New Directions graduate and set out on new paths.
Harry Shum Jr. and Darren Criss join the main cast of season 3 as Mike Chang and Blaine Anderson.
Glee’s fourth season splits its focus between two locations, following the stories of the students of McKinley High and its graduates in New York City. At NYADA, Rachel struggles with her tough-as-nails dance instructor Cassandra July, while Kurt does whatever it takes to join her in New York after his rejection from the school. Back in Lima, Ohio, Will works on rebuilding the New Directions, recruiting students like Wade “Unique” Adams, Marley Rose, Ryder Lynn, Kitty Wilde and Puck’s half-brother Jake Puckerman.
Over the course of the season, relationships are tested, including Finn and Rachel’s, Kurt and Blaine’s, Will and Emma’s and Brittany and Santana’s. Topics like bulimia, dyslexia, gender identity, school violence and more are explored, Will and Emma tie the knot and Rachel auditions for Broadway. Kate Hudson, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Sagal also make guest appearances.
Chord Overstreet joins the main cast as Sam Evans this season, promoted from his role as a recurring cast member.
Season 5 picks up where the show left off last season and continues to follow the journey of the NYADA students and the kids of New Directions. The school year depicted in season 4 continues at McKinley High, where the Glee Club’s win at Regionals puts them on the path to possible back-to-back wins at Nationals. Meanwhile, in New York, we find out if Rachel lands the lead role in her first Broadway production and what Blaine plans for his proposal to Kurt. The season's first two episodes feature songs of the Beatles, while its third features a tribute to Finn, whose actor, Cory Monteith, passed away prior to the season’s filming.
Over the course of season 5, personalities clash, relationships are ripped apart and new and old social issues are explored. During the Glee Club’s push to win big at Nationals, they sing tributes to the music of Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Billy Joel, learn to twerk and ready themselves for graduation. At the competition in Los Angeles, though, the club finds itself defeated, causing Sue, now interim principal of McKinley High, to disband New Directions once and for all. The rest of the season takes place in New York, in the wake of the Glee Club’s end, following the new graduates as they make their way and find their place in their new lives.
Jacob Artist, Melissa Benoist, Blake Jenner, Alex Newell and Becca Tobin were all promoted to the main cast this season, as Jake Puckerman, Marley Rose, Ryder Lynn, Unique Adams and Kitty Wilde, respectively.
In the show’s final season, after her humiliating failure as a TV actress, New Directions' original star Rachel comes home to Lima to figure out what she wants to do next. Upon discovering that Sue has banished the arts at McKinley, Rachel takes it upon herself to reinstate and lead the Glee Club, grabbing new talent in the form of Roderick Meeks, twins Madison and Mason McCarthy, Jane Hayward and Spencer Porter. Meanwhile, Blaine, Sam and Will have all found surprising new gigs in Ohio. Throughout the season, other alumnae return to McKinley to help Rachel rebuild the New Directions and help viewers say goodbye.
Dot-Marie Jones was promoted to the main cast this season as Shannon Beiste.
You May Also Like…
Are you a gleek? You might enjoy some of these other shows starring members of the Glee cast:
- Teen Choice, hosted twice by Kevin McHale in 2010 and 2012, and once by Darren Criss in 2013
- MasterChef, with 1 episode featuring Jenna Ushkowitz, Cory Monteith, Blake Jenner, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Melissa Benoist, Alex Newell and Kevin McHale
- American Horror Story, with 2 episodes featuring Darren Criss, 1 featuring Dot-Marie Jones and 1 featuring Jacob Artist
- The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, starring Darren Criss
- Scream Queens with Lea Michele
- Raising Hope, with 2 episodes featuring Mike O’Malley
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