Beneath the show's sunny exterior beats a heart of darkness
You'd really think that those kids on Glee would be super-duper extra-special entertaining. On TV, they're dizzyingly fun to watch. They sing. They dance. They lace their bake-sale cupcakes with weed. They get involved in extortion plots involving their panties. They wind up pregnant, even when they're president of the celibacy club. The show is crazy and camp and has done so well that Fox airs it in one of the most coveted time slots in all of TV: right after American Idol, the very show that paved the way for Glee in the first place. Plus, after only 13 episodes, it has already become a kind of multimedia cash cow. Sales of the songs it covers (among them, Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious," John Lennon's "Imagine" and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'") regularly take the top spots on iTunes. Its first two albums became instant bestsellers. And the upcoming national Glee tour is already selling out. As one TV analyst recently observed, "It's a merchandising bonanza!"
Naturally, this thrills everyone involved to no end, though perhaps no one more than the show's executive producer and co-creator, Ryan Murphy. You might have heard of Murphy. He's the great gay shaved-head zeitgeist-riding genius of weird TV. Nip/Tuck's 100-episode run starting in 2003 was his deal. Then, in 2008, Murphy got hold of some dark script about high school Glee clubs, saw the potential in it for something else altogether, pitched it to Fox, got the go-ahead, hired lots of unknowns for the major roles, and then successfully navigated the puzzled Fox execs who, upon seeing the pilot, could only say, according to Murphy, "What the hell is this? I don't know what this is. I want to go jump out a window!" Since then, the show has won Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards, developed a rabid online fan base comprised of self-called Gleeks, and had Amy Winehouse opine, "It's funny shit!"
As luck would have it, we wound up in Murphy's company just the other night, outside the luxe Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood. Over a glass of wine and a steak, the 44-year-old proves to be quite a colorful and amusing fellow. He starts by saying a few words about his childhood in Indianapolis. Turns out that in grade school he desperately wanted nothing more than to become the pope. "I liked church and was obsessed with the Crucifixion and leprosy and the pope," he says. "I would stand in church with my arms spread for an hour, doing penance for my sins because you can't be the pope if you sin. The nuns told my parents there was something wrong with me." By the time he turned 14, Murphy had ditched his pope fixation in favor of drinking, doing drugs and having sex with guys who were much older than him. His first sexual experience, however, had taken place six years earlier: "When I was eight, a 16-year-old football player molested me. He was popular, and it was very innocent. I felt like Lolita in some way, like I wanted it. It wasn't terrible. I've always known I was gay. In high school, I felt loved. It was weird. I was a hell-raiser. But I was happy."
Murphy goes on to explain what he thinks Glee is about. The plot of the show revolves around high school Spanish teacher Will Schuester (played by Broadway veteran Matthew Morrison), who takes over a pathetic Glee club filled with pathetic losers and tries to whip them into competition-worthy shape, despite the evil best efforts of nemesis Sue Sylvester, the cheerleading coach (played by the queen of kooky snark, Jane Lynch) who fears the club will steal all the glory away from her beloved Cheerios squad. "But you know what it really is?" says Murphy. "It's four acts of darkness that take a turn and have two acts of sweetness. It's about there being great joy to being different, and great pain. With Nip/Tuck, I'd written so much about anal sex and crystal-meth addiction that with this show I was adamant about 'Let's give people a warm moment. Let's give people a happy ending.'"
He really is one entertaining guy. And, by extension, we thought we'd get much of the same from his lead trio of Glee teens — Lea Michele, as ambitious Rachel Berry; Cory Monteith, as doofus jock Finn Hudson; and Dianna Agron, as knocked-up cheerleader Quinn Fabray. We did learn a great many awesome things: that some of them have nicknames like Child Star and Frankenteen, some were car-radio-stealing con kids, and some get inexplicably upset if you suggest they might be a freak in bed. We learned all that and more. But would they be willing to entertain us? No big deal, right, since it's what they do for a living? So we asked. And right around then is when all the trouble started, with hard feelings, cold shoulders, averted eyes and dewy sniffling involved, just as if they were about to act out a particularly gooey sentimental scene in Glee (of which there are many) — or were right back in the hell halls of high school itself.
Full of giddy expectation, we encounter Lea Michele, 23, at a musty bookstore on Sunset. She has a big smile on her face, and she immediately wraps us up in her tiny arms. The warmth seeping through her is thrilling, even while her infectious good cheer is a little rattling. She's just so darn peppy! Then she's off, tracking down volumes of Wuthering Heights for her Wuthering Heights collection, saying stuff like, "I like Wuthering Heights because of the Pat Benatar song. I know it's cheesy, but I do!"
What Murphy says about her is: "She's a once-in-a-generation voice and Broadway talent, in the tradition of Streisand and Patti LuPone." At the very least, she's terrifically theatrical, in the best upbeat, no-worries sort of way, which is probably why she's such a standout on the show as driven, misunderstood Rachel, a girl needing hard lessons in what it means to be a team player. And while each of the Glee kids gets lots of numbers inside the halls of McKinley High in Lima, Ohio, when Michele takes the stage, she's about all you really see.
Right now, we are trotting after her, completely charmed. "Last night, I was dressed up like a giant cupcake," she says. "I can't tell you why I was a cupcake, only that I was!" And then she says, "Another thing I can tell you is I have a boyfriend. He's a New York theater guy in a cool way, not in a musical-theater kind of way, but I'm not telling you anything else!" We don't care. She's also been romantically linked to Monteith and to actor Jonathan Groff, who will appear on Glee this season as her love interest, but who in fact is gay, and we don't care about that either.
What we do care about is that she has nine tattoos — among them, two musical notes from Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and two butterflies — which speak to a darker, more sensual side. We like her so much that we can't wait to ask her to entertain us. "I have a lot of energy as a person!" she says. Boy, does she ever.
But first she forks over $104.15 for her new editions of Wuthering Heights and waltzes across the street to a Peet's coffee joint to drink some coffee and tell the story of how she got to where she is. It all started two decades ago in the Bronx, where her Italian-American mom was a nurse, her Jewish dad ran a Jewish deli, and young Michele went out on auditions as a kid actor. "Ryan Murphy gave me the nickname Child Star because I've been working professionally since I was eight," she says. "I did take four years off to have a normal high school life. I was on the debate team and played volleyball. The cheerleaders were the whorish girls, so my friends were the tennis and soccer players. Did I smoke pot? No. Anyway, my first part was on Broadway, in Les Mis. I have perfect pitch. It's kind of nuts."
She then tells of getting her Glee role. She was visiting California, ended up at dinner with Murphy, a year later auditioned for the Rachel part, won the role, and said to Murphy, "Do you remember me?" which he did, because he'd written the part with her in mind. Frankly, it sounds like just another Hollywood success story, and we find ourselves drifting to thoughts of goody-goody Michele in high school, and what a guy in high school might say to her to loosen her up. Though we are clueless, we take a stab at it. "So . . . do you pee in the shower?"
She freezes. For a second it looks like her bushy black eyebrows might drop off in shock. Then she regroups. "I don't talk about stuff like that," she says without a trace of peppiness.
As it happens, she also doesn't talk about what she wears to bed ("That's private!"), or if she favors thongs ("I wear boy shorts, OK?"). She does reveal that she's scared of the dark and sleeps with the lights and TV on (tuned to E!), and that she gave up her real last name, Sarfati, because she was teased about it by kids. And then, a bit later, she says, "I live a quiet life. I go to work, I work out. People might think I'm boring, but I don't really care, because I'm not boring, because you're hanging out with me, and you know I'm not."
Do we? Do we really? Frustrated, we flap our hands and demand honest-to-God proof. "Entertain us!" we shout.
"That's what I do for a living," she says firmly. "Now we just get to have coffee."
"No. You have to entertain us!"
"It's not going to happen. I've done a very good job of entertaining you for the past hour. You're not going to ask me again, are you? Oh, give me a break."
We can't. We're tired of hearing how she grew up watching Saved by the Bell, Party of Five and Melrose Place and how she pays her rent three weeks in advance.
"OK," she says finally. "I can turn my tongue into a bathtub."
And with that, she sticks out her tongue, pink and moist, and indeed does turn it into a bathtub, a deep one at that, by somehow flattening it out, then curling the edges way up at right angles. Then she frowns and says, "Oh, you're grossed out!" But truly that's not the case. Mainly, we find the display baffling and don't know what to think of it.
A while later, we stand up to leave, with one last request for Michele. "Please don't tell the others about any of the questions asked of you here today," we say. She promises she won't. But we are in high school territory now, and in high school, as everyone knows, promises are made to be broken, often with hurtful, painful results.
Cory Monteith pushes open the doors of the Guitar Center on Sunset. Though Canadian, he looks entirely all-American, tall, enthusiastic, with an open smile and easygoing brown eyes; in a crowd of a thousand good-looking guys trying out for a Gap ad, he would be one of them. Seconds later, he does something that seems to set him apart and say a lot about him that's good and honest and pure. Intent on testing out some drums, he instantly offers the clerk his driver's license as surety against loss, theft, destruction, whatever. The clerk refuses, but the point is, Monteith offered. And then he plays, in a style that is breezy but determined.
Out on Sunset again, he gets into his souped-up Honda Civic, with dark-tinted windows, and zooms off alarmingly fast, toward his favorite West Hollywood breakfast nook. At this point, we know only a few things about Monteith. As Finn on Glee, he's a jock who stands up to his snorting, eyeball-rolling football teammates in order to join the Glee club, has a problem with sexual suddenness and is none too bright. What first got Monteith noticed for the job was a mailed-in audition tape that consisted of him playing a goofy drum solo on some overturned Tupperware containers. He is 27 and the oldest of the Glee kids. He grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, where he was raised by a single mom, dropped out of school in the ninth grade and held jobs as a roofer and a Walmart greeter, before pinning his hopes on the acting racket.
"I have a kind of checkered past, if you will," he says, and starts talking about how he began drinking in his early teens and gave it up at 19. Previously, he had been many things, a kung fu guy, a rock-drummer guy and a born-again Christian guy who spoke in tongues and wanted to be a preacher. As a teetotaler guy, he decided to cement his newfound sobriety by moving up north to the town of Nanaimo. That's where the roofing came in. That's also where he took his first acting class, which convinced him to move to Vancouver, where he spent the next few months crashing on his acting coach's floor and taking bit parts in anything he could find. Then came the tape he made for the Glee audition. "I looked like a dork, making all these faces, banging on Tupperware like an idiot," he recalls. Off the tape went, and back came a call from a Glee casting director suggesting that Monteith get himself down to L.A. this very instant. "It still shocks the hell out of me," he says. "I still think any minute I'm going to get fired and be shipped back to Canada in handcuffs for stealing that car stereo."
"Stealing car stereos?"
He sighs. "Look, I dropped out of school when I was 14 to go fuck around with my friends and live a lifestyle of crime and pay no mind to authority figures."
"Were you ever arrested?"
"For criminal enterprises or drunk-and-disorderly enterprises?"
"All of the above. I mean, I wasn't killing people. I didn't hurt people." That's good to hear, of course. Killing people would be going too far, probably. Still, a few more details would be nice. "Were you breaking windows to get that car stereo?"
"Specifically," he says, "I just can't remember. But you've got to do what you've got to do, man."
Then he grins, and it's a sly, almost oily grin. It's kind of shocking to see. For some reason, it makes Monteith look not like the boyish, good-natured Monteith of Glee but like a different Monteith, an unknown Monteith. It all happens in a flash, though. Almost instantly, he's back to his usual apple-cheeked, wholesome-looking self.
"Were illegal substances involved?"
"At the moment, I'm affiliated with Glee, and I think it would detract from the show to have that conversation." Then, again with that grin.
And it's suddenly quite apparent that there's a lot more to pretty-boy, drum-playing Monteith than maybe meets the eye. A few minutes later, we ask him to entertain us. He smiles that smile again, this time like he's been prepped for the request by some tattletale. He turns over a couple of glasses and uses a knife and fork to bang out a version of his Glee audition. It's disappointing, but we let it go. We have other questions for him. The very same kinds of questions that Glee's writers might ask while trying to dream up story lines.
"Have you ever made out with any of your Glee-mates?"
"No. Can't mix business with pleasure."
"Ever made out with a guy?"
"No! That's intense, man. That's a question I was not expecting."
"So, are you making the rounds with the ladies?"
"No, man. I try to stay out of it. I try to behave maturely."
"Were you some kind of hustler as a kid, like a con kid?"
There's a great big pause. Monteith seems to be struggling with something.
"Lots of kids in situations like mine are," he says finally. "You bend yourself from a young age, you're a chameleon. Whatever environment I was in, I adapted. When I first moved to L.A., I didn't like it. But now I think it's a pretty cool place. I blend right in here. I like it. It's a city of chameleons. Whatever I need to be, I am, and it's me, and it's not me.
"You know what's funny about being a chameleon?" he goes on. "If you speak convincingly with some razzle-dazzle, a large portion of the population will believe you, even if what you say is complete and utter nonsense."
But here's the thing. Among the cast and crew, Monteith has a nickname, Frankenteen, given to him by Murphy. "It's because I'm huge and awkward," he says, "and I'm not a teen, but I'm playing a teen. I'm like the assembled teen." And you know how in the beginning, at the Guitar Center, Monteith so quickly offered up his driver's license as collateral for the drumsticks? It seemed then like the gesture had something to do with purity and honesty. Now it seems like it's what he expected would be asked of him and he wanted to beat the guy to the punch. So he was wrong. He's not perfect. Franken-anythings never are. It's OK, though. It's even OK when, right before dropping us off, he says, "I've always been a chameleon, but I stopped and now I can just be myself." What a great big load of complete and utter Glee-worthy nonsense. He's a Frankenteen, a soul assembled, and always will be. We watch him turn his hot-rod Honda around, then glide it down the hill, not going fast this time. He's had a tough life. He seems to mean well. Finally, he turns a corner and is out of sight.
A while later, we set off to meet Dianna Agron — Quinn on Glee, the pregnant cheerleader-turned-club-member and former head of the school's celibacy society — on the roof of a hotel overlooking the city with all its majestic, gaudy, twinkling lights. Soon she is stepping out of an elevator. Her lips are bright red. Her dress is right out of the Happy Days Fifties. Her age is 23. Her drink of choice tonight is a Bloody Mary — but only one. Her father was a general manager for Hyatt hotels, two of which she lived in, Eloise-like. Her high school experience, in the San Francisco suburb of Burlingame, was distinguished by a complete lack of dope smoking, drinking, stealing car stereos, speaking in tongues or anything like that. She was an honors student. Her acting career started when she moved to Hollywood at age 18 and got parts in shows like Heroes, after which she says she was offered "horror film, nudity, horror film, nudity," and turned them all down. Her acting career nearly got derailed by a writing career: In her spare time she wrote a screenplay about a guy who can't say "I love you," and sold it right off the bat. Then came Glee. "When we cast Dianna as Quinn, she ruined the part for me," Murphy says. "She was supposed to be the Cybill Shepherd, Last Picture Show cunt, so to speak, but she humanized it. She can cry at the drop of a hat. So now her character has a conscience, a soul and great vulnerability."
Some people might find this seemingly easy ride stupendously irritating. But it's not as if Agron hasn't suffered in life. Her high school boyfriend cheated on her relentlessly, until one day she wised up and said to him, "Nice driving in that Mustang of yours. Find someone else to take around town." Also, she was the last one cast for Glee, so the other kids had already bonded by the time she arrived, which made it all the more terrible on the set one day when Monteith, smelling fart, loudly blamed her. "I wanted to murder him!" says Agron. "And that's why we've never dated. Maybe. I don't know. Not that I was alluding to that. We never dated. He's like my brother!"
Murphy calls her "a breezy free spirit," but right now she seems pretty uptight. And for good reason. She knows all about our halls-of-high-school line of questioning and has come ready to parry our every puerile feint and dodge.
From the start, it's not looking good. "I don't swear," she says. "I don't party a lot. I've smoked cigarettes, but I'm not a smoker. I don't go running around being brash and brazen. I'm a good girl. Look at this $12 vintage pink dress I have on. This is how I dress every day. Have I ever made out with a girl? In my life? Oh, my goodness. I don't know. Maybe?"
How Tiger Beat can you get? In fact, how Tiger Beat can all of the Glee kids get? OK, so maybe it wouldn't be wise for them to flap their lips in the manner of, say, someone like Tara Reid, who at a similar age, under similar circumstances, once told us, regarding sexual congress, "I love it. And then I'll want it every day. And it'll literally be like where I want to call someone and say, 'Hey, what's up, it's Tara. I just ate a cheeseburger, and so can I come over and be fucked?'" But would it hurt them to be just a little more open? Or has Fox told them they'd better keep it clean, or else?
We put that very question to Agron.
"Well, we play high schoolers," she answers, "so you don't want to be seen endorsing too many things."
By this point we are numb. Halfheartedly, we ask her to entertain us. She refuses, then says, "OK, roar like a tiger."
"Who, us?" She nods and we do, loudly, after which she sort of roars herself, softly. It's all very lame. We feel kind of snookered.
But the last straw is the story she tells about a date she recently went on.
"Fifteen minutes into dinner," she says, "he grabs my hand and goes, 'Let's go back to my place.' I think he's got to be kidding. I go, 'Excuse me?' And he goes, 'I bet I'm right about you, that you're very nice and very prim and proper right here at the table with your cute little dress on — and that you're a freak in bed. So, let's go.' His father is a huge actor, so maybe this works for him all the time. I say, 'Please tell me you're kidding.' He goes, 'No, why would I be kidding?' I go, 'Oh, OK, well, I'm gonna go now.' He doesn't get up, doesn't do anything. I walk away and that's it."
"So that line of inquiry doesn't work?"
"No, it does not work."
"Have you ever had a one-night stand?"
"No, actually, I have not. I've only had three boyfriends. And three cars."
A bit later, Agron graciously offers to drive us where we're going next. While some part of us deeply admires the way she says she is, another part of us can't help but believe that she's a total freak all right, just not the kind of freak her son-of-a-huge-name-actor date hoped she would be. She's an A-plus prissy pie. And that's fine too.
And that's pretty much the story of the Glee kids. Except for the really terrible part. It starts innocently enough, with a late-afternoon chat at the Chateau Marmont with Jane Lynch, the inestimable, crazily caustic Sue Sylvester in the flesh. Lynch, 49, has spent the past decade creating a comic persona of many strange shades, as an ultrabutch lesbian dog handler in Best in Show (which first lifted her out of the world of bit parts and voice-overs), as a porn-star-turned-folk-singer in A Mighty Wind, as a slightly insane former drug addict, now head of a mentoring program, in Role Models. Over a Caesar salad, she tells us a little bit about herself. She was raised in the suburbs south of Chicago, liked to drink and drive from a very young age ("It was a cultural thing! Everyone was doing it!"). She has always known she was different, which turned out to mean gay, and was given the nickname "Narc" in high school, because she didn't smoke dope. She was a theater major in her college and grad-school years, joined the Second City comedy troupe, and got her first big movie job, in The Fugitive, where Harrison Ford gave her advice she has lived by ever since: "No matter how smart you are, when your mouth is hanging open like that, you look stupid. Close your mouth." She also owns a Lhasa apso that has to wear diapers, and has of course had sex with a man and does find penises "one of the greatest things ever." Then she says, "I am not your monkey," when asked to do something entertaining. Yes, indeed, the kids have been talking out of school. How often she changes her underwear, how often she'd have sex in an ideal world, if she pees in the shower — all of that is "none of your business." We are miffed. This is high school, sort of, come on, play along. But she's having none of it. Then, toward the end, Lynch mentions that she has a terrible temper. We ask for a sample.
She obviously knows how some of the kids feel about us. She leans forward. "Why do you ask such stupid questions?" she hisses, deeply in character. "Do you get off on that? Do you go home and think about it and jack off?" We laugh, slap our thighs and ask for more. But truly we are stung. That was a total misreading of our intentions. That was not nice.
Shortly thereafter, she's up on her feet and gone. We look at her go. We can't help but like her. She is so totally Sue Sylvester. We admire that in a woman.
We see her once more, on the Paramount lot where Glee is shot, while strolling along with Chris Colfer, the 19-year-old gay kid who plays the gay kid Kurt on the show. She stops Colfer and says, "You don't have to answer anything you don't want to." For his part, Colfer merely looks confused. Maybe he hasn't been brought into the loop — probably because we didn't think about talking to him at all until just a few hours ago, when it occurred to us that Kurt is the real heart and soul of the show. What Kurt seems to be is half Murphy, who had a great high school experience despite being gay, and half Colfer, who at a high school in Clovis, California, had exactly the opposite experience. Alone among all of the character arcs so far, his journey from jock-punching-bag reject to little out-of-the-closet football-kicking hero is meaningful. It's a story line that has resonated with the public, and because of that, in the coming season, Colfer's role will be greatly expanded.
"I was a little strange myself in high school," Colfer says. "I was in speech and debate and drama. I was president and the only member of the writers' club. At one point, I was 40 pounds overweight, with freckles, and I lost it because I thought I'd be more popular, but all I did was go from a fat loser to a skinny loser." He sighs. "My closest group of friends were the lunch ladies. I'm still very close with all of them."
We go into Colfer's trailer and have a seat. He sits opposite us, a thin sapling of a boy with an agreeable semifeminine face and an impossibly high voice who when he hears himself on TV can only think, "'Do I really sound like that? What's wrong with me? I sound like a chipmunk! I don't want to be alive anymore.' Every year of adolescence, I'd ask my family doctor, 'Is my voice ever going to change?' 'Are you shaving?' 'Yes.' 'How long have you been shaving?' 'About a year.' 'Oh, you're screwed.'
"But all my disadvantages have become my advantages," he goes on. "After I first auditioned, they called me back to read for a new character they'd created named Kurt. I got the part. And then they told me it had been written specifically for me! It's surreal. It's crazy. My voice is almost my trademark now. It's a miracle. And it really reflects me. It's what I went through. You know how I sing 'Defying Gravity' in that one episode? In high school, they wouldn't let me sing that song because they said it's a 'girl's song,' but when Ryan heard about that, he wrote it into the show. And now when people hear that song, they think of me. A word I used a lot about what's happened is 'therapeutic.' It's very therapeutic. Outside of work, I'm getting the praise and acceptance I've always wanted. And at work, I've got my first set of friends ever. What I am is a true Cinderfella story."
"Have you heard from any of the kids who gave you a hard time in high school?"
"I have," he says. "It's interesting how people forget their actions. But I don't forget. I took down names and Social Security numbers. You know that forget-and-forgive bullshit? No, no, no, no, not for me. You take that grudge and let that grudge fester, and then you use it. You think, 'One day, they'll pay.' They'll write on my Facebook page, 'Oh, remember what great times we had?' And I'll be like, 'No, we didn't have great times. What are you talking about? Have we met? Remember the three-letter name you'd call me every time we met in the hallway?' I don't forget."
We say nothing. We are spellbound. Right in front of us is Glee incarnate, the real deal, the whole experience of it from beginning to some grand finale, lived fully and resolved unbelievably. What's more, Colfer just being Colfer is so entertaining we forget to ask him to entertain us. He's great. It's all great. We're happy.
Then the next day we go back to the set to see a dance number get filmed. Everyone is in an auditorium, with all the kids sitting on bleachers, among them Michele, Agron, Monteith and Colfer. The ones we have spent so much time with and asked so many questions of. Behind the scenes, a lot has been going on. "I hear some of your questions have been pretty out there," one show executive says to us. "Good for you." But that's an adult perspective. From other quarters comes word that we have apparently upset some of the kids enough to make their eyes mist and to make them say things like, "Why would anyone care if I pee in the shower?"
We have our reasons, but we aren't going to justify our actions any more than we have already.
Instead, we're watching Matthew Morrison, 31, prepare for a scene. We had a talk with him yesterday, during which he told us about his own high school years, in Los Alamitos, California (as a senior, he was both prom king and class president); about why he then chose New York as the place to further his acting ambitions ("I just had so much respect for New York actors, Brando, James Dean, Alec Baldwin. . . ."); about his theater roots ("I did Broadway for a long time"); about his stint as a member of the boy band LMNT ("One of the worst years of my life"); about one of his Glee auditions (he played "Over the Rainbow" on something he calls an "ook-a-lay-lay"); and about why he thinks Glee is so successful ("Music is a language we all share"). He does not mention the ex-fiancee who once wrote on her blog, "It's not Matthew's fault that he thought MONOGAMY was a type of tree!" Nor do we try to get him to entertain us.
But he sure is pretty entertaining, revealing himself to be a great dancer with an enviable, camera-pleasing chin, as he power-bops his way through Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby." Soon the rest of the cast jumps in. After that, a break is called. Filing out, our Glee four toss us a few obligatory hellos. Then they gather on their name-stenciled high chairs and proceed to studiously ignore us.
We stand not too far away. We go back and forth past them to the snack area. They laugh and giggle among themselves. They do not invite us to join them. At one point, Michele walks right by and doesn't even glance in our direction. Then Agron, on the phone, looks straight at us and right through us. We are feeling incredibly awkward and uncomfortable.
In fact, we're feeling exactly like the characters in Glee felt before joining the Glee club and finding each other. Alone, unworthy, unlovable, miserable, excluded. We are feeling totally weirded out and freaked out. We could go over to them, but we don't know how to go over to them. They're a crowd, a clique. We're just us. This isn't high school, sort of, anymore. All theoreticals are gone. It sucks to be standing here. It really sucks. Our skin hurts. We're not kidding. And we feel particularly betrayed by Colfer. What'd we ever do to him? We do understand, though. He's got his first-ever-in-this-lifetime group of friends. He's sticking by them. It's kind of beautiful, really. We just wish the situation was different. Right now, we're beginning to regret our entire line of questioning. This is real life. Right now, all we really want is to be liked.