Six seasons in and Glee is still one of network TV's most consistently gay shows. Sure, the gay footprint has increased since 2009 on many other networks, but in the battle for prime-time TV Glee still stands out. From Chris Colfer's Golden Globe-winning turn as Kurt Hummel, the introduction of Blaine Anderson and the schoolboy kiss heard round the Internet, to the developing romance between cheerleaders Brittany and Santana, Glee has far from shied away from queer storytelling. Of course, they've also taken flack for being too gay, and entering soapbox storytelling with episodes about anti-bullying and suicide that bordered on the Very Special.
Still, there's no denying Glee as a cultural touchstone for the last five years of gay progress, and when the kids of McKinley return to Fox for their final season on Friday there will be plenty more queer for fans to devour. Here's five things to expect from the gays of Glee without giving away too much of the plot from the two-hour season premiere.
1. There's a new gay in town, and he says he doesn't care about showtunes.
Glee is always adding new homosexual characters to the mix, from gay showchoir villains to trans characters to lesbians played by Demi Lovato. This season's new addition is Spencer, a gay football player who Rachel first calls out for calling another player a "homo" before it's revealed that he's of the tribe, "a post-modern gay teen" and self-described arrogant jerk. When they're looking to bulk up their numbers of the Glee club, Kurt comes calling, and while he does try to play up his brief football playing stint as a point of bonding, Spencer points out that just because they're both gay doesn't mean they have anything in common. When Kurt points out he owes glee club for the level of acceptance he gets to enjoy at McKinley, Spencer scoffs, "Please, I owe Modern Family." Of course, he who doth protest too much is eventually going to get caught singing in the locker room showers, Glee's favorite location to get reluctant, shirtless, and good-looking talent for six seasons running.
2. Dalton, the bastion of dreamy blazer boys and anti-bullying policies, returns to Glee.
Blaine is back in Ohio acting as coach, and he makes a very awkward assumption that all his Warblers are gay. They're not. The Warblers are straight. All of them. Sure, it gets a chuckle since Kurt's initial reaction to the group in Season 2 was to wonder if they were all gay, but back then it was Blaine who set him straight, so to speak. It's a bit of a misfire of a joke in light of that, since Blaine clearly knows better, but if enduring that means we get the Warblers two-stepping to Ed Sheeran songs, we'll take it.
3. Sadly, the premiere doesn't take much time to tell us what's up with Santana and Brittany and their relationship, but in Glee terms that means things are a-okay.
Spoilers tell us to expect a union between the ladies before the season is through, but for the first two episodes any future plans are mum. The ladies join forces with Quinn to help drum up support for the newly instated glee club from the Cheerios with an epicly sexy "Problem" performance. Oh, and Quinn's sapphic past does get a great shout-out in the second part of the premiere when she pays a visit to McKinley's new conservative Tea Party club.
4. Breakups are unfortunately in the air.
While Rachel's been mentally checked out in the wake of her TV show failure, two duos in her life have hit the rocks. Kurt and Blaine called off their impending nuptials and her dads are also planning a divorce. When it rains, it pours. Of course, for at least one of those couples, a bump in the road doesn't mean the end of the line and it looks like Season 6 will endeavor to mend at least one pair of soulmates. At the very least, they're both in therapy and working on their own issues.
5. We return to Scandals, Lima's one gay bar and the scene of Blaine's infamous "I just want to make art and help people!" drunk declaration of Season 3, with high hopes for the interactions that take place inside.
And, well, it doesn't go so well. Let's just say three of the four of the Lima gays who were in attendance during that drunken first time are there again, and that's one too many for an immediate happy ending. In tribute to how much a small town gay bar stays the same, they're even playing the same tunes this time around as last time.
Glee's 6th season premieres with a 2-hour double-header Friday, Jan. 9 at 8/9c.