I’ll be the first to admit that I was a hardcore Gleek in my day. This series had me in its grip (whether or not I have a cheerfulness Live! concert in my youth), in part because of the musical numbers, the ragtag cast of characters, and the bizarre storylines that made this show something to remember.
But in a recent cheerfulness revisiting it, I couldn’t help but notice some of the strange money-oriented plots throughout the show. From William McKinley High School’s weird financial priorities to Rachel and Kurt’s inexplicable Bushwick loft, here are the most puzzling examples:
Right away, come in Glee’s pilot episode, we are introduced to the wacky priorities of William McKinley High School. When Spanish teacher Will Schuester decides to revive the glee club, Principal Figgins has serious reservations. He tells Will that he will have to pay $60 a month out of his own pocket because, unlike the Cheerios cheerleading squad, this club will not bring prestige to the school.
Will’s wife, Terri, is a walking financial nightmare. She is very angry about living paycheck to paycheck, but refuses to work more than four hours a day, three days a week at Sheets-N-Things. She also has an infamous “craft room” in the Schuester house where she hides her stash of Pottery Barn. When she decides to feign pregnancy, she wants Will to give up his teaching job to become an accountant to take care of them.
Wanting to earn some extra money after learning of Terri’s pregnancy, Will takes on cleaning duties after school. Since the school has already cut a janitor for budgetary reasons, Schue offers to do all the work for half the revenue. At this rate, his new side gig can’t earn him much. Know your worth, Schue! You’re scrubbing hardened slushie goo off the floor!
It’s no secret that money is at the heart of the outrageous feud between Sue Sylvester and Will Schuester. It’s Sue who goes through the entire series as she continually tries to destroy the glee club so the Cheerios can get the maximum amount of funding. In fact, at the beginning of the series, Sue asks her Cheerios to infiltrate the glee club and destroy it from the inside.
I consider Will Schuester rapping to “Gold Digger” both a money storyline and a mockery.
During the absurd time when Quinn plans to secretly give Terri her baby, she asks Terri to help fund doctor’s appointments and maternity clothes. Terri thinks this is unreasonable, but does take a second job as an unqualified nurse at William McKinley High to spy on her husband.
In one of her fleeting Sue Sylvester-isms, Sue compares the toxic environment she plans to create at the glee club to when she sold her house and “salted the dirt in the backyard so nothing could grow there for 100 years” , all because she had to pay closing costs.
Apparently the school can’t find the money to pay for a bus that is wheelchair accessible for Artie when it comes to transporting the New Directions to their games. Soon after, it comes to light that the school hasn’t spent a lot of money making something accessible. It’s very realistic that their budget would be tight, but worrying when we see WMHS host other egregious school events.
The entire episode where the glee club films a local commercial for a mattress store and then gets paid in mattresses is iconic.
Despite having zero dollars for New Directions, Principal Figgins says in a strange moment of realism that the school’s electric bill has risen due to the use of lights in the auditorium. Have you seen their songs, Figgins? Broadway caliber!
While the New Directions somehow manage countless matching outfits and intricate backgrounds for many of their performances, they don’t have enough money for costumes and hairspray for the regions in Season 3. Sugar Motta (whose family apparently has enough money to buy Breadstix to rent out) saves the day and covers these costs.
With the New Directions having to raise money on a regular basis, the students organize numerous fundraisers throughout the series. From marijuana-laced cupcakes to a sexy calendar featuring all the guys in glee, things get weird fast.
After graduation, Rachel and Kurt head to the Big Apple to pursue their dreams. They find a spacious loft in New York City the size of a house. Given that Rachel is a student and Kurt is an intern at Vogue, how can they afford rent, food, and living expenses? Even if they bring Santana into the mix, it’s a baffling situation.
As soon as Rachel lands Funny girl (an amusing coincidence given Lea Michele’s current role as Fanny Brice on Broadway), she has access to a city car that drives her around. Realizing that she is losing herself to fame, she decides to learn how to ride the subway like a normal person. This begs the question: how could she get by before all the fame? As a NYADA student, she took cabs everywhere?
And that’s what you missed cheerfulness! Share your weird rewatch reveals in the comments below.