December 2, 2010


One of the big questions that's always posed when a TV show is based on high school students is, how can you keep it going since high school is a finite amount of time. It's an interesting problem to address, but high school doesn't last forever, and even the fantasy world created by Glee has to abide by this simple rule. From the looks of it, Ryan Murphy agrees.

It looks like 2012 will be the time when we say goodbye to the current members of New Directions, and while it sounds sad, it's a natural progression both within the worlds of McKinley and Hollywood. We're led to believe that most, if not all, of the current characters were sophomores during Season 1, which means they'll be seniors during Season 3. In an odd coincidence, FOX has so far only committed to three seasons of the show, so having Finn, Rachel, et al graduate by 2012 makes sense.

But what if the phenomenon continues, and FOX needs a fourth season? If Murphy has his way New Directions would be repopulated with new members, but replacing well-loved characters is always a daunting task, and could very well kill a show. So what should a show runner do?

The most obvious answer is to take the Saved by the Bell approach where you have the exact same show with a brand new cast. Those of us who had to endure SbtB: The New Class know this isn't always the right choice. There's 90210 model where we just follow the current Gleeks to college, but the charm of the show revolves around the fact that the stories take place in high school. Then there's the elusive hybrid method where you keep old characters and introduce new ones. If I was running Glee, this is the route I'd take.

A mixed cast solution is just as tricky as the others, but it does allow for continuity and character growth (some will say these aren't Glee strong suits to begin with, but I digress) during a time of transition. Some shows have been able to pull this model off; Friday Night Lights immediately comes to mind. FNL was able to keep fan favorites like Tim, Smash, Jason, and Saracen around a little while longer as they introduced us to newbies like J.D., Vince, and Luke. Other shows have also tried and failed (Scrubs), but FNL proved that it could be done.

The more I think about it, a combination of old and new characters becomes more appealing. In all reality, the only hold overs the show would need to keep around are Finn, Rachel, and Kurt. You could also throw in a fourth member like Mercedes, Quinn, or Puck (although seeing Santana and Brittany in college would be entertaining) but it wouldn't be necessary. Finn could go to Ohio State (heck Lima actually has an OSU campus) while Rachel and Kurt go to some performing arts college, and we can watch them transition to campus life.

Thanks to the Dalton Warblers, the world of collegiate a cappella groups have been highlighted, so there's  a natural plot device that could help a character like Finn or Kurt go from high school to college, and Rachel could go out for any and every musical lead at her school. While all of this is going on, Schue could be training up a whole new crop of New Directions members back at McKinley (just as long as their not the exact same characters we've already met). If Glee is able to pull off this kind of shake-up, it could still be entertaining.

Or the show can just wrap up after three seasons, and I wouldn't be opposed to this solution either. The only thing worse than a show that was cancelled too soon, is a show that sticks around longer than it needs to. While I really enjoy watching Glee, it doesn't have the legs for the long haul, so a three season run would be fine by me, and Gleeks should be happy they got as many episodes as we did since most shows barely last one full season. It's be sad to see the show go off the air, but it has to end sometime.

Regardless of which route the show ends up taking, I'm sure this is a problem the Powers that Glee are glad to have.


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