On The Prospect of a Glee Reboot or Reunion…
At the height of its popularity, Glee was one of the most popular shows on television and once held the top spot with the most charted hits on the Billboard Top 40. To give you an idea of how huge that is, in the past that honor was held by Elvis Presley and The Beatles. They were recently surpassed by someone named Drake who I would be hard pressed to name a song he’s recorded. How that happened, I will never know. But I digress.
With television and streaming producers running out of ideas, it seems like every even remotely successful show of the past is getting a reboot of some kind. As more of the Glee fan base moves into young adulthood, and starts to get nostalgic, it’s only natural that the idea of a Glee reboot (a term often used interchangeably with the term reunion – more on that later) is brought up. Up until recently I’ve mostly just chuckled and rolled my eyes at the idea, but the idea does not seem to want to die, and I am finally putting my thoughts on the matter down in a coherent form.
REBOOT VS REUNION
First let’s define some terms. A “reboot” is a new show or movie based upon the same premise of an existing show or movie. It may or may not utilize the same characters. “Roswell: New Mexico” and the Disney Plus show “Turner & Hooch” are examples. A “reunion” is a sequel catching you up on the lives of the characters from a previous show or movie. “Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life” and “Fuller House” are examples.
In the context of Glee, there are three possibilities:
- A reunion show or movie catching us up on the lives of the show’s characters after “Dreams Come True” and possibly focusing on characters who were neglected in the series finale. We are past the point or the 2020 flash forward in Dreams Come True, and people are naturally curious about what happened next.
- Reboot of the show featuring one or more of the original characters taking on the adult roles, with all new kids, and following the same general premise of the original show. Many people see this as a natural next step given the fact that Sam was put in charge of running the New Directions in the finale.
- A completely new reboot of the show with all new characters and/or a recasting of the original characters with all new actors, following the same premise of the original show.
The reunion show concept seems to be what most people are probably hoping to see. But it’s also the least likely to actually happen. A number of cast members have died, moved on with their lives, become social pariahs, and several core actors have flat out said that they will never do a Glee reunion.
A reboot show consisting of all new actors, and possibly new characters or a mix of new and old characters is actually the most likely to happen. But it’s also the one that’s the most likely to not go over very well. Without the same actors and characters and people behind the scenes, it just wouldn’t have the magic of the original show. Matt Morrison has said that Glee was very much a product of its time, and he’s right. To do this concept in the modern world, they would have to change far too many things that made Glee what it was.
A reboot with some of the original actors taking on the adult roles is probably the second most popular idea. But it actually faces all of the challenges of the other two ideas, and would arguably be the hardest to do.
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR A REUNION?
So what would it take for a Glee reunion (since it’s what I think most fans actually want) to happen?
- The timing would need to be right.
By that, I mean it would have to happen after the cast drama has settled down, people have gotten over the actors’ deaths, and enough time has passed to have a new generation of fans to be hungry for this type of show. Unless they’re very limited in length and scope, a reboot or reunion cannot survive on nostalgia alone. I personally don’t see this happening until the show has been off for at least 10-15 years. As of this writing the show has only been off for seven. So the timing isn’t even close to right.
- A reunion show would need to have the right storyline.
It would need to appeal to both existing fans, and a new fan base. It would have to find a way to incorporate as many of the original Characters as possible in meaningful ways. For the life of me I don’t know what that would be. Alternatively, it could be something with a very limited scope like the often mentioned “Britanna spin off” which is no longer an option after Naya’s passing. There are no doubt other possibilities here for a limited scope reunion, but they would need to find one that didn’t repeat what has already been done, would appeal to a broad selection of the fan base, and would be interesting to new fans who didn’t necessarily watch Glee. Maybe someone will come up with something someday, but right now I haven’t seen or come up with one. One with Klaine also isn’t possible given what I am giving to address below.
- Any reunion would need to have the right people involved:
By right people I mean both all of the important actors, as well as behind-the-scenes talent writers and producers of the show so that it would have a similar feel to the original.
This is probably the biggest barrier, and the reason that any form of reunion with the original cast is unlikely. Executive Producer Ryan Murphy would need to be involved, and he’s definitely moved on to other things. He tends to get bored easily with projects, and has never shown any interest in doing any kind of a reboot/reunion of Glee. He still works with Brad and Ian, but he’d also need to recruit Zak and Brooke for Choreography, Adam and Niki for music, Joaquin the DP, and countless others who have moved onto other projects. Getting this many people interested and available at the same time is very unlikely.
Even if you got the production team, you still need the front of camera talent. Several of the core cast members have flat out said that they would never do a Glee reboot: Matt Morrison and Chris Colfer specifically come to mind. I think there are others. Many of the cast have moved on with their lives, and are doing other projects: Matt, Chris, Harry, and Amber in particular are very busy. A number of the core cast have recently gotten married and/or started having children: Matt Morrison got married and had a kid. Harry got married. Lea is married and has a kid. Darren is recently married. Jenna recently got married and is expecting her first child. Becca is married now, and just had a kid. She doesn’t even live in LA anymore, focusing on her Ladygang podcast, and occasionally going to the filming sites for individual projects.
While, it’s pretty obvious that some of the actors would jump at the chance if they were available, many more simply wouldn’t. From what I picked up from things that they’ve said and how active they have been since then I think Lea, Jenna, Kevin, Becca, and Heather would be onboard. Dianna, Amber, Darren, and Alex would probably participate if they could make it work with their schedule. Harry is a giant toss up. He is very busy, and was barely there for the final season, so it wasn’t that high of a priority for him. Melissa is finally done with Supergirl, but likely isn’t affordable anymore even if she was inclined to do it. Chord is focusing on his original music these days. Would he even be interested, even if offered the series lead?
They would need to figure out what to do about the actors who have died:
Cory/Finn’s passing was written into the show, and in retrospect I think it was probably addressed too often. The show never really recovered after Finn died, and the cast never really moved on from Cory’s passing. You can’t really blame them considering how intertwined the character and actor were.
Mark Salling (Puck) could probably just be ignored or be written as being deceased or in prison as the character himself alluded to more than once.
But Naya Rivera is another story entirely. Santana started as a relatively minor character in the ensemble, whose role gradually grew, and towards the end of the series, her relationship and marriage to Brittany was one of the core storylines of the final season. They absolutely could not just ignore her!
I see three possibilities:
- Recast the character. This would be a massive mistake, in my opinion. When Step Up: High Water recast Naya’s character Collette, the fan base was livid, and we can expect the Glee fan base would be much more so given how iconic Santana was. Many fans of both shows are young and have never been fans of a show where the actor who played a character died in real life. They saw killing off or replacing the character as the norm because that’s what Glee did, when it really isn’t. Recasting is much more common.
- They could kill off the character offscreen. But this would be an even more massive mistake. As a CIS male, I can not completely understand what Santana and Brittany’s relationship means to the LGTBQ+ community. But I know it was and is huge for them in the form or representation and it would be cruel to take that away. Naya may have died, but unless something is created indicating otherwise, their fans can take comfort in the idea of their favorite characters continuing to live in their hearts (and fanfic!) getting there happily ever after.
- They could come up with a reason for her to not be there. This I suppose they could do, but the fans would be unlikely to accept it unless Brittany was also not there, since they are married, and Heather is one of the ones we would expect to actually want to do a reunion as she hasn’t done a lot since the end of the show.
With all this in mind, the possibility of doing any form of Glee reunion with the existing cast is extremely unlikely any time soon.
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR A REBOOT?
As I said before, a reboot with an all new cast is the most likely scenario. But even a partial one with Sam or another of the originals as the teacher is only slightly more likely. So what would it take for a “reboot” to actually happen?
Glee was an example of what they used to call catching lightning in a bottle. By that I mean a series of things need to be right at the same time to have a massive success. The odds of this happening in a single franchise are remote, but not impossible. Who knows? It happened with Star Trek so it could conceivably happen with Glee.
- Ryan and the original production team would need to have an interest. Thus far this does not seem to be the case, but who knows what the next few years will bring when AHS (American Horror Story) and ACS (American Crime Story) eventually run out of steam. I’ve had the conversation with my friends numerous times that Glee could have been a musical version of Degrassi if the producers had chosen to do it. But these particular producers are well known for losing interest in projects after two or three years and letting them die rather than turn them over to different producers and writers with new ideas and energy. The reason that ACS and AHS are still going on is that each season is so different from the previous ones. New iterations of Glee would likely be repeats of the same general ideas, and they would very likely get bored very quickly doing it.
- Enough time would need to actually pass since the end of the first show. As I said before, ten to fifteen years is probably about right, but who knows?
- They would need to cast a group of equally talented actors who had chemistry with each other. This is very much easier said than done!
- They would need to put together a group of equally talented behind-the-scenes people who worked on or were at least familiar with the original show, and why it worked. The odds of getting all the originals together is remote. So they would need to find equally talented people to fill their shoes. This is also very unlikely.
- They would need to take a good hard look at the original Glee show and make the tough decisions about what to keep the same and white things that they would have to change to make a show work with a modern audience, because there’s quite a bit of things that are very cringeworthy to watch now, and would never fly on a show today.
When you consider everything above, no, unfortunately a Glee reboot or reunion with or without original cast participation seems very unlikely any time soon.