Remembering Cory Monteith

7.14.2013

By Shana Naomi Krochmal

What we learned from Finn in four seasons of 'Glee'

Image by monizipoli via Glee Wiki

Let’s just agree up front that the most compelling, consistent story Glee has told in its first four seasons is about Kurt, this kid who goes from scapegoat to standing tall and proud, from being thrown in dumpsters to deciding his own destiny. What made Kurt’s growth so compelling is it never happened in a vacuum—it wasn’t just about this one boy aching to be famous. It was about his father learning how to best defend and stand by his son no matter how different he may have seemed. About his friends at school standing in solidarity. About finding and falling for the first boy he ever loved.

And it was especially about one guy, Finn (played by the actor Cory Monteith, who recently passed away), who when he felt particularly vulnerable might say something small and cruel (which many other people clearly thought, but didn’t say out loud), and who instead did the hard work of growing up and admitting when he was wrong and learning to love the boy who became his step-brother. Where Burt Hummel showed us a man who struggles to bridge the gap between unconditional love and true understanding, Finn was the tougher morality tale: family by neither birth or his own choice, his ultimate embrace of Kurt as his brother was hard-won but stronger for being entirely of his own making. (And for a character who struggled to find his place, here was one success he earned.)

To me, a perfect world where everyone loves everything Kurt ever does isn’t that interesting—or that important, really. I’ve said plenty of times before that Cory Monteith bore one of the most subtle and necessary burdens of Glee, to be (occasionally) unlikeable and human, and never more so than in figuring out Finn’s and Kurt’s evolution into family.

I’ve also said plenty of times that in those moments—especially the fight he and Kurt have over sharing a bedroom—I’d been convinced Cory had a lot of range and acting skill that he rarely got to play with on Glee, and I hoped at the very least he’d find his way to some projects that really showcased that talent.

There’s a short list of actors I keep in the back pocket of my dreams, their voices echoing when I write a script, their faces blinking back at me from the page. Hoping that maybe one day, somehow, all the millions of pieces might align to bring it to life.

I wanted more from Cory, for all of us to enjoy, and for him to have found some kind of peace in the process.

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