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Friday, July 19, 2013

Character Spotlight - "Glee"'s Finn Hudson

As I eluded to in yesterday's Thursday Diary, I will be spending today's entry talking about Cory Monteith and his death at the age of 31.

Many people that I have regular contact with have expressed their shock and sadness over Cory's death. I will admit to being shocked myself. Cory Monteith was exactly one year less a week younger than I am. To see me outlive someone who supposedly had everything in life anybody could ever want is a huge shock. And while I lwjhknow that his death could have been prevented and that he shouldn't have indulged in heroin just months after he checked out of rehab, who knows what was going through his mind at the time?

I guess what I am trying to say is that I won't judge him because I don't know the guy personally. I don't know what was going on when he made the decision to do drugs in that Vancouver hotel room which inevitably ended up costing him everything. So, I won't further comment on any other speculations that may arise.

Instead, I'm going to devote this article to the joy that he brought to fans all over the world in the role that made him the most famous. I imagine that a lot of fans of “Glee” are in mourning right now, and some are probably still trying to figure out how to talk to their kids about what happened. And, as of right now, we have absolutely no idea how “Glee” plans on addressing the death of Cory Monteith. Right now, it appears as though the show is planning on killing off the character he played, but this could always change.

For now though, let's take a look at the life and times of the character that Cory played on “Glee”. Finn Hudson.

Now, I'll be the first one to admit. Aside from the odd episode, as well as the humourous parody video that the cast of “Glee” did for Madonna's “Vogue” video, I can't exactly call myself a “gleek”. By all accounts, “Glee” is a very popular show. It helped spawn interest in a high school social club long made fun of by “jocks” and “cheerleaders” through the ages. It grouped together different people from different high school social cliques for one common win the championships.

Unfortunately, it also showed us that a Slurpee from 7-Eleven could be used as a lethal weapon in the high school class wars.

And, gave us the rivalry between passionate Will Schuester and snarky Sue Sylvester.

Glee” has also made a huge impact on pop culture as well. There was a reality show that premiered on Bravo that had wannabe gleeks competing against each other to land a small role in the series. It has breathed new life to songs that were once considered forgotten. And, Archie Comics had a crossover with “Glee” beginning with Archie #641 earlier this year.

Nobody knew what sort of an impact the show would have when it debuted on FOX on May 19, 2009. But the show has continued to dominate in the ratings and has made household names out of Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Jayma Mays, Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, Chord Overstreet, and Darren Criss.

And, of course, the late Cory Monteith, who played the role of Finn Hudson.

Now, how Cory ended up getting the role was an interesting one because he was one of the few people to have to submit two different audition tapes. The first audition showed Monteith using pencils as drumsticks against a makeshift drum set comprised of old Tupperware containers. The video caught the attention of show creator Ryan Murphy, but he wasn't entirely satisfied because Cory wasn't singing. Given that the show was about a glee club at an American high school, Monteith had to prove that he could walk the walk, talk the talk...or in this case, sing the song.

The song he chose to sing for his second audition video was a classic R.E.O. Speedwagon song, “Can't Fight This Feeling”. That second video was enough to secure Monteith an audition in Los Angeles for the show itself. While his vocal stylings at the time were not as strong as some of the other people at the audition, producers were in awe of Monteith's portrayal of the character that would come to be known as Finn Hudson – a high school jock who appears to be incredibly dumb, but who is actually just naïve and very sweet.

Of course, the casting was considered to be a little bit controversial, as when the pilot of “Glee” finally aired, Monteith had just turned 27...just four years younger than Matthew Morrison who played Will Schuester, director of William McKinley High's “New Directions”. But luckily for many people, Cory had the looks and the personality to play young quite convincingly.

Anyway, when the show first began, Finn Hudson was the star quarterback of the football team, and he is initially one who thinks very low of the “New Directions”. But Finn also had a rather interesting secret.

Ironically enough, Finn was singing the very song that Cory Monteith sang in his audition video.

Anyway, one thing you need to know is that if you're ever singing in a school locker room, the last thing you want is to have Will Schuester present. Otherwise, he will wrangle you into joining the “New Directions” faster than you can blink your eyes. And needless to say that when Finn Hudson joined the glee club, he got a lot of ribbing from his football teammates, especially from his best friend Puck (Mark Sailing). But the longer he stayed in the club...the more he began to like it. Sure, the crowd that made up the “New Directions” were people whom he would not normally associate with, but he grew to like and respect them all...especially Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), the lead female vocalist of the “New Directions”.

Of course, the growing friendship between Finn and Rachel caused Finn's girlfriend Quinn (Dianna Agron) to grow extremely jealous. She became so jealous that she herself joined the glee club in order to spy on both Finn and Rachel. But what Finn didn't know was that Quinn had cheated on him with Puck, and gotten pregnant with Puck's child. Panicked, she told Finn the baby was his (which confused the naïve Finn as he didn't even remember making love to Quinn at all). Eventually, Rachel discovers the truth which leads to fallout between Finn, Quinn, and Puck, and Finn almost quits the glee club as a result of it. Luckily, when Finn discovers that Sue Sylvester has planned to sabotage the glee club's first performance, he comes in at the last moment and saves the performance.

Other season one highlights involve Finn finally entering into a relationship with Rachel, as well as dealing with the fact that his mother has fallen in love with the father of another “New Directions” member, Kurt Hummer (Chris Colfer). And while this ultimately leads to tension between Finn and Kurt (which escalates into Kurt being bullied), by the end of the season, Finn has apologized to Kurt, and their bond begins to grow.

But by the beginning of season two, the love story between Finn and Rachel derailed off the tracks when Rachel discovered that Finn had slept with Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera), and to get revenge, Rachel starts to chase after Puck. This leads to the first break-up between Glee's “supercouple”.

(In real life, Cory Monteith and Lea Michele also shared a romantic relationship, which up to Cory's death was still going on.)

Of course, Finn was involved in a lot of other storylines outside of his relationship with Rachel. He convinced members of the Cheerios to leave the group to join the football players and “New Directions” to perform in a halftime show at a football game, and he briefly reunites with Quinn – with terrible results.

By the end of the second season, Finn decides that he wants to be with Rachel ultimately, and he tells her that he wants her back. But with Rachel set on leaving Ohio forever to study music in New York City, Rachel is torn over what to do. It isn't until the “New Directions” go on stage for Nationals that Finn declares his love for Rachel during a duet that Finn wrote himself.

Although “Pretending” wasn't enough for the team to win Nationals, for Finn and Rachel, it was enough to reaffirm their commitment towards each other.

Throughout the next two seasons, Finn and Rachel's relationship grows, and Finn actually proposes marriage to Rachel. The couple decide to get married after the Regionals competition, but after Quinn gets involved in a car accident, the wedding is postponed indefinitely. The couple decide to get married at graduation instead, but another snag takes place when Finn (who has applied to a New York acting school) discovers his application has been rejected. Rachel, on the other hand, is accepted into her school, and she is willing to put her dream on hold just so she can be with Finn. But Finn (who was one to look out for himself and only himself at the beginning of the series) proved that he had grown up a lot over the last two years, and told Rachel that she should follow her dream, and not wait for him. So, Rachel headed off to New York to become Broadway's newest superstar, while Finn stayed behind and enlisted in the army.

That commitment to the armed forces doesn't last long as Finn is discharged after injuring himself, and he heads off to New York to surprise Rachel. But after a while, Finn discovers that New York is not the place for him, and he heads back to Ohio without informing Rachel, which leads to their second break-up in the series.

But what is interesting about Finn's return to Ohio is that he was almost instantly given a position at William McKinley High...albeit a temporary one. And what is really interesting is that the position ended up being within the same club that Finn himself was a huge part of during his high school years.

You see, Mr. Schuester was going to be out of town for a few weeks, and Finn was brought in to become the interim club director in Will's absence. And, granted, Finn's leadership wasn't exactly well-received at first. But the more comfortable he got, the more respect the glee club members showed him. And, by the end of the fourth season, Finn was contemplating going back to school to become a teacher and his relationship with Rachel was beginning to blossom once more after he saved her from engaging in a relationship with a guy in New York who was nothing but bad news.

So, as of the last season, it appeared as though everything was starting to fall into place for Finn, and that nothing would stop him.

However, the sudden death of Cory Monteith this past Saturday has thrown a little bit of a monkey wrench into the plans for season five.

It seems really unlikely now that Finn will go through to become a teacher. We'll never really know if Finn and Rachel would have found a way to finally be together forever. It's a very sad thing to think about when you consider that “Glee” will likely have no choice but to kill Cory Monteith's character off. And, it really shouldn't have ended this way at all.

Finn went from being a jock who really didn't care about anything other than playing sports, and who had very little regard for most people to being one of the stars of the “New Directions”, forging bonds of friendship with Mr. Schuester and Kurt, and finding the love of his life in Rachel Berry. He went from drifting aimlessly through life to finding a purpose. It seems almost like a cruel joke that his story has to end now.

Just as it seems almost like a cruel joke that Cory Monteith lost his life at a time when things were going so well for him.

To end this blog entry, rather than mourn his passing, and curse the effects of overdosing on drugs...I thought I would end this blog off by remembering him for what he did best.

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