I held on for as long as I could. No matter how uneven the storytelling, I tuned into "Glee" week after week because I genuinely cared about this motley crew of misfits from McKinley High. I was a Gleek, determined to stick it out until the very end.
I fell in love with "Glee" during season one. The mix of high school satire, campy musical performances and truly inspired storytelling had me hooked. And it was Finn Hudson, with his unassuming demeanor, who immediately grabbed my attention. Okay, and he also had mad drumming skills.
Cory Monteith brought a level of enthusiasm and charm to Finn that made viewers instantly fall in love with him, and want to be his friend. Perhaps that's why Finn naturally fell into the leadership role. As the leader of New Directions, Finn helped his fellow misfits go outside their comfort zones and be better.
"Grilled Cheesus" will always be my favorite episode of "Glee." In it, Kurt's father suffers a heart attack and questions his own belief in God. Meanwhile, Finn believes he found the face of Jesus in his grilled cheese sandwich. This episode showcased the very best of "Glee": funny and moving, yet incredibly important and provocative. With all of his aw-shucks charm and believability, Finn was "Glee." He was the heart of this episode -- and this show.
Sure, he wasn't always perfect. But the show wasn't perfect either. Somewhere in season two, "Glee" lost itself to its own success, but Finn Hudson, quite literally, soldiered on. Nothing was handed to Finn, he worked for it. He made mistakes and learned from them. On a show full of fantastical characters and surreal events, he was remarkably normal. And that was all thanks to Monteith.
So when Monteith tragically passed away during the summer of 2013, "Glee" lost its heart. And that's when I stopped watching.
Even the most fairweather of fans tuned in to watch "Glee" pay tribute to Monteith in the third episode of season five, titled "The Quarterback." It was a beautiful, cathartic memorial, for fans and the cast alike, and it finally allowed me to let "Glee" go.
"Glee" will pay tribute to Monteith in a flashback to Finn during tonight's (March 20) two-hour series premiere. And I'll probably watch it just to get one last glimpse of Finn and his goofy, sideways grin.
Because without Finn, there was no "Glee." That's how good Monteith was at his job -- and I'll always cherish him for it.