Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Coroner’s report rules Cory Monteith, of Glee, died from drug/alcohol toxicity
How should Glee writers handle the news?
The death of Cory Monteith on Saturday in Canada, has left fans of Glee, and undoubtedly his girlfriend/castmate Lea Michele and the other Glee cast and crew, reeling with grief. It’s horrifying in the same way the death of Heath Ledger was a few years ago — someone so young (he was 31), so talented, and with so much to look forward to one minute, and then poof, he’s just gone. Just a few minutes ago, the Vancouver Police Department released the Coroner’s report stating Monteith died of a mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol.
So now we’re left to both mourn and to wonder, how will Glee, which has already been renewed for two more seasons, deal with the loss of his major character, football hero-turned-glee club singer-turned-assistant New Directions coach? Monteith’s character, Finn, was a fan favorite and the on-and-off-again love of Rachel, played by Michele. At the end of last season, Finn and Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) had settled their problems over an impromptu kiss Finn had given Mr. Schue’s fiance, and were looking forward to working with the show choir in their run up to national competition.
Now what? Both media and fans seemed stunned in the spring, when Monteith voluntarily entered rehab for substance addiction. He left after a 30-day program, and he and Michele had recently vacationed together in Mexico. Monteith was quite open about his addiction problems, saying they started when he was a young teen and continued through his adult years.
There are several ways that Glee could address Monteith’s absence when the show returns this fall: He could have decided over the summer to go to college in some faraway state and simply disappear. He could have fallen in love with someone other than Rachel, and move away to be with her. He could have died in a car crash or similar accident.
I don’t think any of those options would do either the man or his character justice. From what I’ve seen of Monteith, in interviews both in print and onscreen, and from what people have said about him in the wake of his death, he was apparently a loving, kind person who was incredibly giving. I think the best way to honor both Monteith and Finn would be for Finn to have died, over the summer, from a drug or alcohol overdose or combination of the two, as Monteith did. The Glee community can react with the same sense of incredulity and horror the world did when they found out about Monteith’s past drug problems and now, his death. They could process it, as we are doing now. They could talk about what signs they might have missed and how Finn could possibly have been helped.
This course would, of course, be incredibly difficult for Michele, but I have a feeling she’s enough of a pro to handle it, and it might actually provide some catharsis and relief, knowing that maybe just one addicted teenager, or the friend of parent of one, would see the show and seek help that could save a life. Or three. Or 10. I think Glee and its creator Ryan Murphy are brave enough to tackle that kind of story line, in a way that most shows would not. Whatever they choose to do, I fervently hope they don’t just scrape the facts of Cory Monteith’s death under the proverbial carpet. I suspect that’s the last thing he would want.
Producers have said the actor’s death may mean pushing the Glee fall premiere back to November, but no date has been announced.
If you’re wondering how to help your children deal with Monteith’s death, here’s a terrific blog post Nancy Churnin wrote about that.