July 20th, 2011
05:37 PM ET
I wouldn’t really call myself a fan of “Glee,” but I do watch the show, and I know a lot of the Gleeks out there are still reeling from news about some of their favorite McKinley High students.
Last week, executive producer Ryan Murphy announced that three of the show’s stars won’t be back for season 4. (We’ll leave aside the presumption that there will BE a season four).
Murphy said the reason behind the decision is that it would be unrealistic for student characters to stay on a show once their senior years come and go. (We’ll also leave aside the idea that “Glee” has EVER been too worried about realism.)
I’m actually all for this decision. Too often, shows back themselves into a corner in terms of how long it’s viable for characters to be part of the story, and programs set in high schools are notorious for this oversight. In fact, if Murphy had announced that Rachel, Finn and Kurt (and presumably most of the rest of the glee club) would be sticking around past next year, that’s what this post would have been about.
No, my problem with this whole situation is how it was done. Murphy said he talked about the plans with some of the cast ahead of time, but at least two of them learned of their characters’ fate at the same time as the general public, Chris Colfer via Twitter and Cory Monteith via the industry trades.
None of these actors (Monteith, Colfer and Lea Michele) will be hurting for work. But let’s be honest: losing your job sucks, even if you know it’s coming. Being blindsided about losing your job, and having it happen publicly? I’m pretty sure my rage level would be just below global thermo nuclear meltdown.
If this happened in the “real” world – if you read on a company bulletin board that you were given your two weeks’ notice before you were called into your supervisor’s office – I feel fairly sure the next call you would make would be to your lawyer. Certainly, that boss is going to hear from HR. So why do we casually accept this behavior from Hollywood?
Maybe it has something to do with what I wrote about last week, that when it comes to our favorite shows and movies, we want as much information as we can, and we want it as soon as we can get it. Perhaps Murphy was feeding his frenzied fan base at the expense of his cast.
There’s nothing wrong with Murphy deciding when it’s time for characters to leave the show, and there’s nothing wrong with him giving interviews about those decisions. (Although, why would you want to give that away so far in advance? I say it again: Sometimes less information is the way to go.)
But the classy thing to do would have been to tell his cast members ahead of time. Hollywood often doesn’t play by the same rules as the rest of the working world, and sending messages through the press is a time-honored tradition. But this wasn’t some behind-the-scenes fight. It was a personnel decision. And those – even in Hollywood – deserve to be handled privately.
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