Viewpoint

Musical love affair fizzled out a long time ago

Back in 2009, several new shows made their debut on American television. In a season that included comedy Cougar Town (just concluded), supernatural thriller The Vampire Diaries (ongoing) and sci-fi mystery FlashForward (short-lived), Glee was a clear standout.

The use of music in an hour-long drama felt daring and exciting, and there was an infectious sense of joy and fun that lived up to the title of the series. It was love at first episode for me.

But by the third season, the magic had worn off. Characters I had rooted for stopped behaving like characters and were instead jerked around according to whatever the script demanded of them each week.

It was time to part ways with the show.

So my response to the sixth and final season which ended on March 20 in the United States: You mean it hung around for so long?

Glee was created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan. At that point, Murphy was best known for the violent and twisted plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck (2003-2010).

But tucked into his resume was also the high school dramedy Popular (1999-2001). It included an episode in which a hilarious musical about sexually transmitted diseases - That Burning Sensation - is performed for kindergarteners. Clearly, the song- and-dance premise for Glee was right up his alley.

The excellent pilot episode set up the main arc for the first season: Can a ragtag bunch of students come together under the leadership of teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) and take the glee club, New Directions, all the way to the regional finals?

The choir members included wildly ambitious Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), gay and dapper Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer), big-voiced Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) and wheelchair-bound Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale).

Joining the freaks and geeks were jocks and cheerleaders from the upper rungs of high school hierarchy - star quarterback Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), bad boy Noah "Puck" Puckerman (Mark Salling) and pretty Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron).

Then there were the teachers, who included abrasive cheerleader coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) and mousy guidance counsellor Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays).

With such a sprawling cast, there was plenty of drama as rivalries sprouted, passions flamed and songs were sung.

Along the way, the series tackled issues such as teenage sexuality and identity, race and relationships, set to irresistible mash-ups and musical homages to the likes of Madonna and Britney Spears.

But after two seasons, the show began to feel tired as yet another competition loomed and the mash-ups and clashes started to feel formulaic. Finn, Rachel and Quinn in a stew once more? Will and Sue at each other's throats again?

Worse, characters behaved out of turn - bitchy and nasty one moment, mature and reasonable the next - the key motivation for their actions being the whims of the plot.

In later years, occasionally hearing about the show was like getting scraps of news of an old friend who has changed beyond recognition after graduation. (Who got engaged? Who got married? There was a sex tape between who?)

While Monteith's tragic death from a mixed drug toxicity in 2013 came as a shocker, there was no impulse to return to the series. Too much water had passed under the bridge.

Audience numbers in the US for Glee were strong for the first four seasons. It hit a high of 10.11 million in season 2 and then plunged to 4.57 million in season 5.

But for me, the music had stopped long before that.