Having watched Glee in my tweens, I was intrigued by the release of The Price of Glee on Discovery+ on January 16th (note to self: cancel Discovery+ free trial).
Featuring interviews with crew members, stand-ins, and friends and family of the cast of Glee, The Price of Glee investigates the alleged “curse” of the show, involving deaths, arrests, and abuse. This series explores Cory Monteith’s (he/him) drug addiction and eventual overdose, Lea Michelle’s (she/her) air of superiority on set, Mark Salling’s (he/him) child pornography charge and eventual suicide, Melissa Benoist’s (she/her) abuse by her fellow cast member and (ex-) husband Blake Jenner (he/him), and Naya Rivera’s (she/her) death in Lake Piru.
This docuseries is strongest when it focuses on Cory Monteith in its first two episodes. A series of interviews with Monteith’s roommate, Justin Neill (he/him), and the head of the Glee hair department, Dugg Kirkpatrick (he/him), are quite moving and shed a lot of light on Monteith – his struggle with fame, his addiction, and his tragic drug overdose in 2013. There was quite a bit of evidence that Monteith’s relapse was related to the pressure he felt working on Glee, and/or to a conversation he had with another cast member.
The biggest bombshell of the series was dropped by Dugg Kirkpatrick. According to Kirkpatrick, Monteith had told Kirkpatrick he had resisted the urge to drink alcohol at a party. He shares, “But he was told that same night by another cast member, ‘You know what? If you want to have a drink, you should have a drink. I’ll be here. You can always trust that I’ll be here for you.” Kirkpatrick speculates that this remark set him on a path to destruction which led to his untimely death.
This docuseries often felt more like conjecture than a documentary. The deaths of three cast members and a few crew members are loosely tied together throughout this series in a way that resembles the web of a conspiracy theorist. It often seemed like logical leaps were taken in order to craft a narrative that just didn’t work.
This half-hearted attempt to create something of consequence could have been better served by simply focusing on Cory Monteith, whose death could actually be linked to Glee.
Although this series was interesting, the scope was too broad and seemed to encompass unrelated events in an effort to reach a time quota.
Overall, I would give this 2 out of 5 stars.