When Glee ends its six-season run tonight with a special two-hour finale, its legacy will certainly be mixed. The show debuted in 2009 and became an instant phenomenon -- spawning hit singles, sold-out concerts, a reality competition series and a 3-D film. In the beginning, the fresh-faced cast and the delightfully wicked Jane Lynch drew praise for bringing Ryan Murphy’s twisted vision to life. It was a rare achievement, and still one of the only successful TV musicals of all time.
But even the freshman season was far from flawless. Wildly uneven tone and quality plagued the series, while tribute episodes and guest appearances weighed down the already cumbersome (and at times nonsensical) narratives. Glee could be great, but as the run soldiered on -- ushering its protagonists through graduation, college and beyond -- the great moments were further and further between.
What has been consistent, however, is the show’s celebration of individuality and commitment to its queer characters. Say what you will about the artistic quality of the work, but its impact on mainstream television cannot be denied.
See some of the reasons why Glee was a game-changer for gay teens on TV, AFTER THE JUMP…