Imagine Glee without attention hog Rachel Berry, outspoken Kurt or ditzy Brittany. Well, a new crop of McKinley High students may be infiltrating New Directions sooner than you'd think.
Less than halfway through its sophomore season, series co-creator Ryan Murphy is already looking to the future of the popular musical comedy. He says he plans to replace the current cast with new actors once their characters graduate at the end of 2012.
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"Every year we're going to populate a new group," Murphy says, according to Australian news website News.com.au. "There's nothing more depressing than a high schooler with a bald spot."
Since it's May 2009 debut, Glee has turned its twentysomething stars including Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer into household names. But no matter how attached fans might be to the current cast, Murphy says he'd rather keep the show centered on a high school glee club rather than find a way to keep the same kids singing into college.
"I think you have to be true to the fact that here is a group of people who come and go in these teachers' lives — they graduate and they're gone," Murphy says. "When some of them finish their run at high school it will be very teary episodes. For me it will be particularly tough but a new crop (of actors) will come in."
Murphy attributed his graduation plan at least partly to the success the show has already seen with new students like Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet). "I think one of the things I'm very happy we've been able to do this year is we've brought in new characters," Murphy says. "I didn't know if people would want those characters (like Sam) but they do."
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Past high school shows have failed to re-populate. Remember Zach from The O.C.? Neither do we. But Overstreet has been warmly embraced by fans (and head cheerleader Quinn). Although he's not a member of New Directions, Kurt's new BFF Blaine (Darren Criss) has also made a name for himself since his debut last month. His a cappella version of "Teenage Dream" has even surpassed "Don't Stop Believing" as Glee's best-selling single.
Some series have enrolled new classes of kids without a hitch. Canadian high school drama Degrassi and the UK's Skins are both still running and have rotated in new casts more than once. Friday Night Lights successfully navigated a transfer to East Dillon. (And going back into the history of television, it became laughable to see shows like Welcome Back, Kotter, which ran from 1975 to '79, with guys sporting 5 o'clock shadows in first period — because some of the actors were pushing 30 and playing high school students.)
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The real question is how much of Glee's success is particular to this group of characters? Yes, the series is a hit thanks to creative storytelling, infectious music and being able to get pretty much any guest star on the planet they want. But, aside from Mr. Schu and Sue Sylvester, could the audience learn to let these kids go?
How likely is Glee to stumble upon a teenage Broadway-trained talent like Michele? And after months of watching Kurt endure teasing, bullying and slushies to the face, would fans be able to let Colfer walk off into the sunset?
Fox would not confirm Murphy's quotes, so only time will tell what the real plan is for Glee. Do you think the current McKinley class should, or can, be replaced? Or should viewers follow Rachel and company to Lima University? Sound off in the comments below!