Is “Glee” Exploiting Cory Monteith’s Overdose?
Rachel Brandt | On 06, Aug 2013
Last week, news broke that Fox’s hit show Glee will be killing off main character Finn Hudson in response to the untimely and tragic death of the actor who played him, 31-year-old Cory Monteith. Monteith died from a toxic mix of alcohol and heroin in Vancouver, British Columbia, on July 13th.
According to Fox’s entertainment president, Finn’s death will be directly correlated to Cory’s overdose and tied in with a series of drug addiction public services announcements that creator Ryan Murphy will be filming with the cast. Speculation exploded throughout the Gleek fandom and elsewhere on the Internet, frenzied by what had already been a media circus. Will Finn have developed a hard drug problem while away at community college for two weeks? Will he try drugs once and die? Will he, perhaps, be killed by someone else under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs? Most people believe that like Cory, Finn will die from an overdose.
Personally, I think passing Cory’s death on to Finn is inappropriate for a lot of reasons, the first of all being that it goes against nearly ever established fact known about the character. For a kid who had a legitimate panic attack when someone stuffed a single blunt into his locker and who has been portrayed drinking much, much less than the average 19-year-old and other characters on the show, the idea of Finn overdosing seems pretty far-fetched.
And there is something that feels cruel in forcing the cast and crew to relive his death through the character of Finn, rehashing grief that hasn’t even had time to settle. It also perpetuates the tabloid fodder that Cory was living a double life, unbeknownst to his family, friends, cast, crew, and long time on- and off-screen girlfriend, Lea Michele.
While I realize that they are trying to spread awareness and launch an anti-drug campaign to, hopefully, help prevent other people from encountering the same fate, I’m not sure that giving Finn Cory’s death is the way to do it. It reduces the man and the character he played to his addiction. How can you sum up a character or a person by a single weakness? He was also talented, outgoing, charitable, forthright, and friendly. To exploit his death and use it as a PSA feels like a disservice to his legacy. I think there is a very fine line that has to be walked if Glee decides to follow through with this ending for Finn.
It will have to be something that is forever part of the lives of each character for the remainder of the show. Regardless of how Finn is written out, this storyline will add a new layer of grief for Kurt, Burt, Carole, Rachel, Mr. Schue, Puck, and all the other members of the New Directions.
Many have said it’s a way to change the perception Americans have of addicts and their addiction, because neither Cory nor Finn fit the stereotypical idea of what an addict, especially a heroin addict, looks like. Cory came off as well-spoken, trustworthy, and put-together. And for the most part, he was. So, while I love Glee, I’m worried they don’t have it in them to do it properly.
Instead, I fear their decision to focus on Cory’s drug problem by passing it on to Finn will perpetuate America’s tendency to dismiss addicts as lost causes, who are intent on doing themselves harm instead of people with medical, and potentially other, issues in their lives. And if Finn is to die at the hands of an addict who is driving under the influence, it once again vilifies addicts instead of posing important questions about how addiction is viewed.
Will incorporating addiction into Finn Hudson’s death help or harm the movement to change stereotypes about people who suffer from an addiction? Do you think this is a good move for the writers of Glee? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Written by Rachel Brandt