When Glee came out, it was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Four years after its end, that's still the case. It was a bizarre mix of musical revelry, awkward/fake wokeness, and characterizations that changed on a dime. That's still not even the half of it, though.
Even though it's been over for years, Glee has had a resurgence in popularity. Half of it is old fans cringing at its antics, the other half is people loving the extreme way it does everything all over again.
To explain this fan split, let's look at things that the series did right and wrong.
Here are 5 Reasons Glee Is Timeless (And 5 Why It Aged Poorly).
10 Aged Poorly: Student/Teacher Relationships
A lot of the conflicts and big decisions in Glee happen because of the teachers meddling in students' lives. And no, not in the "encourage kids to be their best" way. They do it in a threatening, manipulative way like telling kids they'll go to jail for things they didn't do. Fans all love Finn, but the way Mr. Shue got him into the Glee club? Absolutely awful.
That's just one example, too. There was that weird time Rachel had a crush on him and went to his house, the cruel way Sue treats the Cheerios, and so much more.
9 Timeless: Campiness
One of the best parts of Glee was how extra the show was. Every character oozed with the campiness of crazy outfits, odd hobbies, and over the top actions. The entire first episode really set the tone for the rest of the series. Terry was willing to lie about her pregnancy, Tina was yelling "I Kissed A Girl", Kurt was milking "Mr. Cellophane", and Rachel was... well, Rachel.
Truly, the series only got campier from there. Few other shows could have pulled off a character marrying herself, so many dramatic, roller-coaster couples, or an entire puppet episode.
Its campiness is one of the top reasons that, for some people, Glee is timeless.
8 Aged Poorly: Sue Sylvester
While Sue Sylvester did give fantastic one-liners and had the presence of a vengeful god, her zingers (and hatred) didn't age well. Instead of being a borderline bully, her character is just a straight-up jerk. She's very offensive and intolerant of many of the minority characters and her love of her sister and Becky don't make up for it. She doesn't get to pull the "but I have a black friend" card.
Sue has a few redeemable moments, but there aren't nearly enough to make up for the awful things she does. Honestly, it's disappointing that society used to approve of her brand of cruelty. Comedy needs to (and is) evolving.
7 Timeless: Costumes
There are quite a few Glee storylines and scenes that are absolutely bizarre and wild. Things like Quinn's birth and the out of control "Toxic" assembly feel like fever dreams. Something that always was on point, though, were the costumes. Glee did an amazing job of making cool outfits that reflected and fit the characters' personalities, styles, and sizes.
All the outfits are iconic and unique, giving the show and its characters distinct looks.
Many people forget all the whacky plots, but they more often remember all the great costumes from different themed episodes. Of course no one will ever forget how great everyone looked in the Lady Gaga group performance.
6 Aged Poorly: Absurd Abandoned Plotlines
Sometimes, Glee was even too absurd for itself. That's why the show is often known for leaving bad subplots (and even main ones) to perish in the dust.
Terry's fake baby plot and the character just disappear the second she's discovered. Quinn's paralysis and romance with Joe happen and vanish within episodes. While the club helping with Sam's homelessness is nice, that also gets ignored and "resolved" way too quickly.
Glee tried really hard to address a bunch of serious topics, but more often than not things just got wild and confusing and then everyone acted like they didn't happen. In an age of more tight-knit television writing, that ages very poorly.
5 Timeless: Creative Musical Performances
Anyone can say what they want about the story content of Glee, but the musical performances were amazing. The actors really gave it their all and created some really fun and awesome mash-ups. Many fans only call themselves fans because they own and still listen to the music from the show. Be it an original song or a cover, they all were pretty great bops.
So, best to ignore the fact that Finn sang "Losing My Religion" because of a grilled cheese that vaguely looked like Jesus, and instead enjoy the music.
Between the vocals, costumes, choreography, and team-work, the actors had so much fun, and fans did too.
4 Aged Poorly: Boomerang Romances
All teen shows have endless random pairings and on-and-off couples, but Glee truly is the champion of everyone dating everyone. Glee makes all the random couple pairings so much more dramatic because each of them always ending up having a musical number before they break up, even if they only date in one episode.
Not only were the classic couples of Finn/Rachel, Will/Emma, Kurt/Blaine, and Britt/Santana constantly on-and-off, but there were so many random pairings. Santana and Mercedes once fought over Puck. There was the weird Quinn/Joe thing before his character disappeared. Rachel got obsessed with Mr. Shue for an episode. Blaine and Rachel had a thing.
The romances on Glee boomerang around so much and it's so tiring, especially looking back.
3 Timeless: Will Schuester
No, this does not mean Will is some great exception to the campiness of Glee. Actually, Will Schuester is timeless because he embodies the campiness. He is a wild, weird man who makes astounding decisions in every episode. He is the king of being extra and weird. All the fans saw that Thong Song dance he did for Emma, right? He always was going to be the campiest of them all.
Now, fans look back at Will Schuester as this human embodiment of musical chaos that is fascinating and horrifying all at once.
Mr. Shue was the core of the show and led the team to victory and ruin. He self-inserts himself into his club's relationships and was the lead singer for the raunchiest pep rally ever. What a god of chaos.
2 Aged Poorly: Minority Representation
While Glee did a surprisingly amazing job of inclusion, the stereotyping was a little (read: very) rough around the edges. One key example was Artie. While Kevin McHale is a great talent, including a wheelchair-bound character only rings hollow when played by an abled actor. There are tons of actors out there with disabilities looking for work.
Glee always played softball with its statements and care for minorities. They existed in this high school and technically got a voice, but they were still almost always background characters or were shoved into at least mildly offensive stereotypes. It may have been great progress then, but Glee's attempts age pretty poorly now.
1 Timeless: Finn's Episode
Hands down, the best thing that Glee ever did was its tribute episode to Cory Monteith. Over time, his character Finn Hudson became the wholesome heart of the show. Though it started off rocky, his romance with Rachel grew more mature over time and he was finding his own path towards taking Mr. Shue's place.
Then, tragically, Cory Monteith passed away. Glee did a terrific job of taking the whole episode to mourn its lost star. He meant a lot to the cast and the actress who played Rachel, Lea Michelle, was his fiancee. Each character got their own time to grieve losing him and it was possibly one of the most beautiful tribute episodes on television.
That, of everything Glee did, is its most timeless.