“Price of Glee” Docuseries Review

Story posted January 24, 2023 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Sophia D’Ovidio

At its best, “Glee” was a witty satire of teen musical dramas like “High School Musical” that had showstopping musical performances. At its worst, it became the exact thing it set out to parody.

“Glee” was revolutionary for its time, but between its messy cast drama, scenes that haven’t aged well and the absurdity that the series has always had, “Glee” is often the butt of jokes for both fans and haters of the series.

While a lot of “Glee’s” drama is based on trivial, petty beef or poor cast behavior, the series and its young stars had extreme pressure and harrowing tragedies to deal with while on the series and after the show's run.

In July 2013, the show’s leading man Cory Monteith tragically passed following an overdose.

Following a guilty plea to child pornography charges, Mark Saling was found dead in January 2018 and was ruled a suicide.

Most recently, in July 2020, Naya Rivera was declared dead after she was missing and reportedly drowned in Lake Piru, saving her son in the process.

It, of course, is highly upsetting that an ensemble filled with young up-and-coming actors has already had three of its cast members pass barely ten years after the show’s premiere.

So Discovery + had a fascinating premise that their docuseries “The Price of Glee” could have centered around. Talk to cast and crew about the sudden rise into stardom, the over-scheduled cast, behind-the-scenes drama and the tragic deaths of their former cast members.

Instead, “The Price of Glee” is an incredibly insensitive and downright disgusting exploitation of the misfortune that the cast, crew and anyone related to “Glee” in any sense had to deal with.

Before getting into the moral and ethical problems with the docuseries, it was also terribly produced.

The creators, crew and cast of “Glee” have been outspoken about their problems with this series, notably that none of them were involved with its production and were outright disgusted by this attempt to profit off their hardships.

It’s challenging to watch “The Price of Glee” and take any of it seriously. They couldn’t interview cast members, so they had characters stand-ins talking about their experiences.

One of Monteith's former roommates and Rivera’s father were both participants, but even their use of them in the docuseries was misused.

With three parts and three deaths, the logical organization of the content would be to have each episode focus on Monteith, Saling and Rivera separately. Especially considering the different natures of their passings and the different experiences each actor had on the show.

“The Price of Glee” opts to flip-flop, talking about each actor's death and trying to weave those well-reported and publicized stories in with the rise and fall of “Glee.”

Additionally, it attempts to touch on the abusive relationship Melissa Benoit had with Blake Jenner, as the two met and began their relationship on the set of “Glee.”

The issue with watching “The Price of Glee” isn’t just the poor formatting and lack of storytelling but also the fact that the bulk of the stories being told had been openly spoken about by the cast or reported thoroughly on by the media.

Benoit, for example, had posted on her own Instagram that she had been a victim of domestic violence. The story had been told, so it feels like the docuseries ran out of material and threw it in for dramatics.

It’s been almost ten years since Montieth passed, and he upsettingly passed while “Glee” was still on the air and relevant. “The Price of Glee” could’ve looked into how the writers/creators struggled to continue the series without their leading man or how the energy on set changed without Montieth.

Instead, they rehashed the story of his addiction and tried to blame his then-girlfriend, Lea Michele, for his relapse.

Michele has been under criticism since 2020 when many former “Glee” employees came out and stated that the actress was a terror to work with, even getting accusations of racist behavior.

While Michele and her rudeness is its conversation, the majority of the “Glee” cast, including Rivera in her memoir (the actresses reportedly did not get along), not only have unpromptedly said that Michele and Montieth were good for one another, but that her diva behavior skyrocketed following the death of her boyfriend.

It feels as though “The Price of Glee” was a project put together and financed before getting any notable people from the show to sign on for it.

The docuseries still had an interesting angle as multiple crew members on “Glee” had also passed during the series run. It could’ve centered around that and this idea of a “Glee” curse that has trended across the internet.

Instead, “The Price of Glee” retells heartbreaking and disturbing stories about a young cast of a once-in-a-lifetime kind of show that has never been a secret or unspoken about.

There’s nothing redeemable or even interesting about this docuseries. Even people who hate “Glee” and its cast will feel gross for watching this docuseries.

“The Price of Glee” seemingly set out to do justice by a cast that was obviously exploited during their time at the show and after. Instead, they made a terribly produced docuseries that just reopened old wounds and made a mockery out of a tragedy.

There is no “Glee” curse; sometimes bad things just happen, and it’s truly time to move past that joke. 

Rating: 0/5

Sophia D’Ovidio is a second-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email sgd5184@psu.edu.