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Glee is an American musical television series that premiered on Fox in May 2009. The series follows the members of the William McKinley High School glee club New Directions as they compete in show choir tournaments, while dealing with everyday teen issues.
Glee was conceived by Ian Brennan based on his own experiences in a high school glee club. He initially wrote it as a movie script, which did not receive interest until a friend passed it along to Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy, who competed in show choir in college. After enlisting Murphy’s colleague Brad Falchuk, the trio rewrote the script as a television show which was picked up by Fox 15 hours after the pilot script was pitched. The pilot episode aired on May 19th, 2009 to 9.619 million viewers. The season consisted of 22 episodes, with five to eight musical performances per episode.
The show attracted a number of celebrity guest stars that season including Neil Patrick Harris, Kristin Chenoweth, Olivia Newton-John and Josh Groban. The first season was so successful, five albums containing music from the show were released and 12 of the cast members went on a 13-date national tour that sold out every night. As of July 2013, the show has aired four seasons, and the fifth is set to premiere in the fall of 2013.
The Glee Project
In June 2011, Oxygen launched The Glee Project, a reality show that acted as an audition for a seven-episode arc on Glee. More than 40,000 people auditioned for twelve spots on the first season of the show. The Glee Project aired two seasons, with six competitors actually appearing on the main show. However, a late renewal for Glee’s 5th season led to the cancellation of the competition.
In its four-year run, Glee has been nominated for more than 150 awards and has won more than 70 of those. A number of cast and crew members have also been nominated for individual awards, including actress Jane Lynch who has been nominated for 18 awards and won 8 for her portrayal of cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester.
Two months prior to the show’s launch, a Facebook page and Twitter account for the show were launched to create hype for the series premiere. As of July 13th, they have gained more than 23 million likes and 2.2 million followers respectively. Additionally, there are novelty Twitter accounts for a number of the characters including coach Sue Sylvester, glee club director Will Shuester and students Brittany and Kurt. Their official YouTube channel offers behind the scenes videos and interviews as well as official clips of the performances from the show. As of July 2013, the channel has gained more than 1.4 million subscribers. There is also an official Tumblr blog for the show.
Fans of Glee refer to themselves as Gleeks, a portmanteau of “glee” and “geek.” Since April 2009, dozens of fan sites have popped up online including GleeFan.com and Glee-Fans.org. There are also a number of localized fan sites for people who live outside of America, including Glee Brasil, Glee Fans Australia and Glee Fans Mexico. There have also been dozens of Glee-related Tumblr blogs created since as early as September 2009, using tags including #Glee and #Gleeks to connect with one another. On April 20th, 2010, the subreddit /r/Glee was created, gaining more than 5,500 subscribers in slightly more than three years.
As of July 2013, there have been more than 90,000 fan works relating to Glee shared on deviantART. Additionally, more than 14,000 stories have been submitted to Archive of Our Own whiled Fanfiction.net hosts more than 96,000, making it the most active television show fandom on the site.
Cory Monteith’s Death
On July 13th, 2013 actor Cory Monteith (shown below) was found dead in a hotel room in his hometown of Vancouver, Canada. Monteith had portrayed Finn Hudson, the football quarterback who was forced into joining the glee club in the pilot episode by director Will Schuester. He had dealt with a substance abuse problem since age 13 and spent time in rehab at age 19. In April 2013, he took a leave from the show in order to seek additional treatment. On July 16th, the British Columbia Coroners Service confirmed that his death was caused from a “mixed drug toxicity” of alcohol and heroin.
On the day of his death, the hashtag #RIPCoryMonteith was tweeted more than 1.2 million times and #RIPCory was used more than 23,000 times. Between July 13th and 14th, the hashtag #PrayForLea, asking fans to support Monteith’s on and off-screen love interest Lea Michele, was tweeted more than 300,000 times. On Tumblr, fans used similar tags “Stay Strong Gleeks” where people shared memories of the actor and the show. Additionally, Tumblr and Reddit users from other fandoms including Criminal Minds and Homestuck reached out to Glee fans offering their support.
Daily Herald – Mount Prospect native helped create new Fox show ‘Glee’
The Hollywood Reporter – It’s Official: ‘The Glee Project’ Canceled at Oxygen
Entertainment Weekly – 10 Best TV Series of 2009: Ken Tucker’s Picks: 9. Glee (FOX)