Cory Monteith (Reuters file photo )
I was a music kid in high school. Drama and band. Before that, I had a hard time knowing where I really fit into the scheme of the adolescent machine. But music programs centered that—I joined band to be closer to friends, and instead I found a family.
When "Glee" first aired, I liked it more than personal taste suggested I should. It was easy to mock, with its bad covers and glossy optimism and afterschool-problem-of-the-week agenda. But the story's core was always about those kids, and about how good it feels to finally find your place, unloved though you may be in the cafeteria or at sporting events. When they break into "Don't Stop Believin' " at the end of the pilot, I'm a mess every time—and I don't even like that song. Now, with the sudden death of the lead in that rendition, that gut-punch has a more lasting effect.
Cory Monteith's passing is shocking on so many counts—he was so young, so talented, so committed to getting clean. It's a harsher tragedy than many in Hollywood because it's so against type. Actors die all the time, but so few at the height of their careers.
It's Heath Ledger all over, to get lazy with comparisons. And naturally, the world has responded with unwavering grief, the sour cherry on top of an already dreary weekend of news.
When I heard of his passing, my immediate reaction wasn't "Was it drugs?" It was, "Oh no, the cast ... ." I know how close of a unit the "Glee" cast is (or was, as many have left the show). I thought back on my music friends in school and the searing pain I'd feel if any of them died, even now, years after we've parted ways.
There's a bond that tethers you to that place and time. Finn Hudson, Cory's character on the show, was an emblem of that yearning. Even after graduation, his character stuck around the choir room because he didn't know how to matter if he wasn't in the glee club.
That's why—for me, at least—Cory's death is so big. Because he was the face of the adolescent dream, and the fear of moving on. He felt like the ringleader of a high school drama troupe, the drum major of a marching band. He felt like a friend.
I haven't watched "Glee" in years because I grew up and stopped caring, but I still think of that choir room and how reminiscent it was of my own. And I think of the friends he made there, like the friends I made there, who will miss him and that place forever.
Lindsey Romain is a RedEye intern.
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