Spill the Glee

Somehow, “Glee’s” Mr. Shue Was Even Creepier in the Original Script

· Updated on March 23, 2023

A new podcast dedicated to the show Glee has just launched, promising to “spill the Glee tea” through cast and crew interviews. Anyone familiar with the hit musical series knows there’s plenty to spill. And the inaugural episode has already delivered a number of revelations, with series creator Ryan Murphy describing a potential “NC-17” direction the light-hearted series might have taken.

The new podcast, iHeart radio’s “And That’s What You REALLY Missed,” is hosted by Glee alums Kevin McHale (Artie Abrams) and Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina Cohen-Chang), going through the entire series one episode at a time. In the first episode, the pair—“Tartie”—spoke to Murphy about the initial development of the show and its pilot.

Murphy had just signed a deal with Fox. He had been wanting to make a musical show for a while but was struggling with how the musical element would work in a long-running format. At one point, he was considering an extended Dracula-themed musical. After he had hit a dead end in discussions with executives, he was approached by someone at the gym.

Murphy explained, “While we were having these conversations and I was trying to figure it out, like serendipity, I went to the gym and I was in a towel and a guy went up and handed me a script and he said, ‘I had a feeling you were in show choir, am I right?’ And I was like ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘My friend wrote this script and you should read it.'”

The script came from Glee co-creator Ian Brennan. Murphy fell in love with the idea, but he also found that some plot elements—particularly around the Glee club director Mr. Schue—were too dark. “Mr. Schue, I believe, was a crystal meth addict in Ian’s script,” Murphy said. McHale also recalled that there was going to be a plot line with Mr. Schue inappropriately touching the kids. “The NC-17 version of show choir with a weird protagonist who was unraveling,” Murphy summed up.

Because Murphy was known at the time for dark shows like Nip/Tuck, he wanted a break from overly depressing themes. “I just needed something optimistic,” he said.

The character was ultimately reworked into a beacon of positivity. And though he was ultimately portrayed by Broadway star Matthew Morrison, Murphy had another star in mind for the character. “When we were writing the pilot, I’ve never really talked about this, that pilot was written for Justin Timberlake. Mr. Schue was written for Justin.”

Most of the pilot’s initial darkness was channeled into Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), the mean cheerleading coach, in order to offset the show’s optimism. The new podcast comes a few weeks after the announcement of a Discovery+ and ID documentary exploring the controversies and tragedies surrounding the show. The documentary will discuss the deaths of main cast members Cory Monteith (Finn), Mark Salling (Puck), and Naya Rivera (Santana). It will also reportedly focus on Lea Michelle (Rachel), who has been accused of creating a toxic work environment on set, particularly for actors of color.

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