Glee is an American musical comedy-drama television series that aired on the Fox network in the United States from May 19, 2009, to March 20, 2015. It focuses on the fictitious William McKinley High School glee club, New Directions, which competes on the show choir competition circuit while its disparate members deal with social issues, especially regarding sexuality and race, relationships, and learning to become an effective team. The initial twelve-member cast included club director and Spanish teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays), Will's wife Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig), and eight club members played by Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Mark Salling, and Jenna Ushkowitz. In subsequent seasons, the main cast has expanded to fourteen and fifteen members.
The series was created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan, the latter of whom first conceived of Glee as a film. The three wrote all of the show's episodes for the first two seasons, and Murphy and Falchuk initially served as the show's main directors. The pilot episode was broadcast on May 19, 2009, and the first season aired from September 9, 2009, to June 8, 2010. Subsequent seasons aired in September through May. The sixth and final season aired from January to March 2015. Glee features on-screen performance-based musical numbers that were selected by Murphy, who aimed to maintain a balance between show tunes and chart hits, and produced by Adam Anders and Peer Åström. Songs covered in the show were released through the iTunes Store during the week of broadcast, and a series of Glee albums have been released by Columbia Records. The music of Glee has been a commercial success, with over thirty-six million digital single sales and eleven million album sales worldwide through October 2011. The series' merchandise also includes DVD and Blu-ray releases, an iPad application, and karaoke games for the Wii. There were live concert tours by the show's cast after the first and second seasons completed shooting; a concert film based on the 2011 tour, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, was produced by Murphy and Fox and directed by Kevin Tancharoen.
During its first season, Glee received generally favorable reviews from critics, with Metacritic's weighted average of 77 out of 100 based on eighteen critical reviews. The season was nominated for nineteen Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, six Satellite Awards and fifty-seven other awards, with wins including the 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, and Emmy awards for Jane Lynch, guest-star Neil Patrick Harris and Murphy's direction of the pilot episode. In 2011, the show once again won the Golden Globe for Best Television Series, and Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer won Golden Globes for Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively, and Gwyneth Paltrow won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. The show was also chosen by Fox to fill the coveted time slot that followed the network's coverage of Super Bowl XLV in 2011.
On October 17, 2013, in the wake of the death of Cory Monteith three months prior, and one week after his tribute episode "The Quarterback" aired, Murphy announced that the sixth season would be the final one of the series. After 121 episodes and over 728 music performances, Glee came to an end on March 20, 2015.
The series focuses on a high school show choir, also known as a glee club, in the fictional William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio. Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) takes over the glee club after the former teacher Sandy Ryerson (Stephen Tobolowsky) is fired for inappropriate contact with a male student. With a rag-tag group of misfit teenagers, Will attempts to restore the glee club to its former glory while tending to his developing feelings for his co-worker Emma (Jayma Mays), as well as defending the glee club's existence from the conniving cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch). A major focus of the series is the students in the glee club: their relationships as couples, their love of singing and desire for popularity coming into conflict due to their membership in the low-status club, and the many vicissitudes of life in high school and as a teenager.
Season 1 features the fictional high school show choir New Directions competing for the first time on the show choir circuit, winning at the Sectionals competition (episode 13) but losing at Regionals (season finale/episode 22), while its members and faculty deal with sex, relationships, homosexuality, teenage pregnancy, disabilities, acceptance and other social issues. The central characters are glee club director Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), Will's wife Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig), guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays), and glee club members Rachel (Lea Michele), Finn (Cory Monteith), Artie (Kevin McHale), Kurt (Chris Colfer), Mercedes (Amber Riley), Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), Puck (Mark Salling), and Quinn (Dianna Agron).
Season 2 follows the club through wins at the Sectionals (episode 9) and Regionals (episode 16) competitions before losing at the Nationals competition in New York City (season finale/episode 22), while its members and faculty deal with sex, relationships, religion, homophobia, bullying, rumors, teenage drinking, death and other social issues. The season's stories revolve around the same Glee club members as first season, with Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) and Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris) added to the main cast, along with Kurt's father Burt (Mike O'Malley).
Season 3 follows the club through wins at Sectionals (episode 8) and Regionals competitions (episode 14), before they win the Nationals competition (episode 21) in Chicago. The characters deal with gender identity, adoption, domestic abuse, teenage suicide, bullying, disabilities, texting while driving, college and other social issues. Glee club members added to the main cast were Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.) and transfer student Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss), while Jessalyn Gilsig as Terri Schuester was written out of the series and Mike O'Malley as Burt returned to recurring status. The McKinley High class of 2012 graduates at the end of the season.
Season 4 continues in Lima with a new generation of students but also follows some of the McKinley graduates from the third season, notably to the fictional New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts (NYADA) in New York City. The season follows the club through a loss at the Sectionals competition (episode 9) and subsequent reinstatement when the winning Dalton Academy Warblers were found to have used banned substances (human growth hormone) (episode 12) before winning at the Regionals competition (episode 22), which meant they would be attending their third consecutive National show choir competition. In the meantime, Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel navigate NYADA and their lives as aspiring performers, plus their relationships with Finn and Blaine. Issues during the season include sex, bulimia, gender identity, child molestation, dyslexia, school violence, and pregnancy scares. Former main cast members Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays) and Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) were credited as guest stars, while previously recurring glee club member Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet) was promoted to the main cast.
Season 5, unlike previous seasons, continues the school year begun in the previous season. The season shows the reigning champion glee club finishing second at Nationals competition (episode 11) before the club is permanently disbanded by Sue Sylvester, now school principal, for budgetary reasons (episode 12), leaving the focus on graduation. The show then jumps several months forward in time and deals entirely with the alumni's lives in New York City for the remainder of the season, including Rachel's successful Broadway debut. Throughout this season, the club and its alumni deal with relationships; death and mourning; body image, gay bashing, intimacy, and other social issues. Several main cast members dropped to recurring guest stars as of this season: Amber Riley as Mercedes, Mark Salling as Puck, Harry Shum Jr. as Mike and Heather Morris as Brittany. New main cast members included glee club members introduced in the fourth season: Melissa Benoist as Marley Rose, Alex Newell as Unique Adams, Blake Jenner as Ryder Lynn, Jacob Artist as Jake Puckerman, and Becca Tobin as Kitty Wilde. Actor Cory Monteith died during summer before the fifth season was shot; his character, Finn Hudson, died in the season's third episode, The Quarterback.
Season 6 focuses on Rachel Berry, who returns to McKinley after her television pilot fails. She decides to reconstitute the glee club with all-new McKinley students and with Kurt's help. Will Schuester is now coaching rival club Vocal Adrenaline, while Blaine is coaching the Dalton Academy Warblers. All of the new main cast members from the fifth season have returned to guest star status in this final season when they appear; Amber Riley as Mercedes rejoins the main cast, and Dot-Marie Jones as Coach Beiste joins the main cast for the first time. The cast members deal with gay marriage, gender identity, transitioning and other social issues. The newly reconstituted club wins the Nationals competition, Sue is fired as principal and Will is hired to be the principal of a McKinley High repurposed as a magnet arts school, with Sam as the new director of New Directions. The finale jumps five years into the future: Rachel has married Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff), wins a Tony Award, and is a surrogate mother for Kurt and Blaine (who are themselves Broadway stars). Artie has directed Tina in a film, Mercedes is a highly successful recording artist, and Sue has just been re-elected Vice President of the United States. The McKinley auditorium is renamed for Finn.