With its group dance numbers and earnest covers of songs like Journey's buoyant "Don't Stop Believin'," Glee seems like the sunniest show on TV. But darkness lurks just barely below the surface — the series also seamlessly weaves in plots about teen pregnancy, scheming wives and the most hard-hearted cheerleading coach to ever grip a whistle. Rolling Stone's Erik Hedegaard ventures into the Fox hit's most controversial corners, uncovering the stories behind stolen car stereos, illegal substances, Facebook-revenge fantasies and more in our new issue, on sale at newsstands today.
Glee creator Ryan Murphy, who previously helmed Nip/Tuck, explains the show's double-edged appeal: "It's about there being great joy to being different, and great pain." Twenty-three-year-old Lea Michele, the Broadway talent who plays Rachel, tells Hedegaard about her tattoos, and Cory Monteith, who portrays jock Finn, owns up to a few childhood arrests for offenses that "didn't hurt people." Dianna Argon (slippery cheerleader Quinn) describes what it was like joining the cast late and falling victim to Monteith's fart pranks, and 19-year-old Chris Colfer, who bravely plays gay teen Kurt, opens up about his own painful youth and his never-changing voice. "You know that forget-and-forgive bullshit? No, no, no, no, not for me," he says of channeling childhood traumas into creative energy. "You take that grudge and let that grudge fester, and then you use it."
The only Glee cast member who threatens to traumatize Hedegaard is Jane Lynch, who channels her ferocious character Sue Sylvester to warn him against asking "stupid questions" (guess nobody wanted to chat about peeing in the shower!). Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers saw a softer side of Lynch when she stopped by the office recently for an Off the Cuff chat — watch it here. Grab the issue for the full story, and to check out the cast's amazing high school yearbook photos.
Also in this issue: Matt Taibbi on how Wall Street looted America's cities; Jenny Eliscu gets inside Erykah Badu's head; meet surfing savant Clay Marzo; David Fricke says farewell to Big Star great Alex Chilton; behind the scenes at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction; Austin Scaggs swills bourbon with Peter Wolf; and all our latest reviews, including Will Hermes' take on MGMT's Congratulations.