The Price of Glee docuseries is here and, in news which shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who spent their teenage years rotting their brains by watching the New Directioners’ hijinks, it discussed some heavy allegations.
That’s because Glee wasn’t simply audacious high school students belting out tunes with their deeply odd music teacher. Behind the scenes, the show was hit by claims of on-set bullying and racism, and cast member Blake Jenner admitted to “emotionally and physically” abusing his former partner Melissa Benoist.
The most notable tragedies to plague the series, however, were the deaths of stars Cory Monteith, who passed away of mixed drug toxicity involving heroin and alcohol in 2013 and Naya Rivera, who drowned on a boating trip with her son in 2020.
Mark Salling, who played Puck on the show, died by suicide in 2018 — a year after he pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.
It’s extremely important to note that the main cast, nor Glee creator Ryan Murphy, have any affiliation with The Price of Glee. After the trailer for the three-part docuseries was released last December, stars Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Becca Tobin and Chord Overstreet slammed it, and confirmed they wanted nothing to do with the doco.
The Price of Glee includes interviews with crew members, stand-in actors and friends and family of the cast, who reveal never-before-heard stories about what happened during the filming of Glee.
If you ask me, I’d say it’s pretty telling that the main cast didn’t want anything to do with The Price of Glee.
I know the idea of a tell-all Glee documentary is juicy, but I also think there’s a way to produce it so it doesn’t exploit cast members’ trauma; some supposed “bombshells” that The Price of Glee purports to cover relate to Monteith’s experience with addiction and the Rivera’s final moments before she passed away. It’s pretty foul to true crime-ify that.
So you don’t have to watch The Price of Glee, here is everything we learned about the show which gifted/punished us with “Let’s Have A Kiki“.
Production had to implement intense security measures to keep rabid Gleeks at bay
On The Price of Glee, one crew member claimed production had to build tunnels between actors’ trailers and filming locations so they could safely walk to-and-fro without being accosted by fans.
According to Monteith’s friend Stephen Kramer Glickman, the “tunnel is real”.
And Justin Neill, who lived with the actor in California, said Monteith was being stalked by “a young girl who was always following him”,
Neill said they put up extra security cameras but after a while, Monteith was forced to move for his own safety.
It’s all extremely horrifying and sad, frankly. Gleeks respect people’s boundaries challenge.
Lea Michele literally pulled a Mean Girls
We all been knew that several Glee cast members have accused Lea Michele of racism and bullying.
Back in 2020, Samantha Ware responded to a Black Lives Matter tweet that Michele shared. She wrote: “Lmao, remember when you made my first television gig a living hell? Cause I’ll never forget”.
Ware alleged Michele told other cast members she would “shit in [her] wig amongst other traumatic microaggressions”.
Ware’s accusations of bullying weren’t isolated; Heather Morris admitted that Michele was “unpleasant to work with” and claimed on Danny Pellegrino‘s Everything Iconic podcast that the Glee cast was “scared” to report Michele’s “bullying” to the big dogs.
Amber Riley also neither confirmed nor denied whether Michele was racist when Ziwe posed the question. INTERESTING.
Lore completed, let’s scoot back to The Price of Glee.
Assistant to the executive director Garrett Greer echoed the claims that Michele was not particularly nice to work with. He claimed she was a “narcissist” and alleged that “if there was ever a threat to [her character’s] attention, that caused conflict”.
Dabier Snell, who appeared in one episode of Glee in Season 4, alleged Michele banned him from sitting with the main cast at lunch.
“After we had filmed that scene and obviously there was lunch, Darren [Criss] was like, ‘Yo, you should come by. All the cast members will probably sit down,’” Snell said.
“I was like, ‘Alright, cool.’ I was there maybe 10 minutes and then I got pulled by somebody on set.
“They were like, ‘Hey, Dab, can I talk to you for a minute?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ So, she goes, ‘Somebody specifically at the table doesn’t want you sitting there.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ So, she was like, ‘I’m really sorry about that. It’s not about you. It’s just the person there doesn’t feel like you belong with the rest of the group.’”
Snell claimed he asked the crew member if the “somebody specifically” was Michele, and said they made a “wincing face” and nodded.
“Like, wow, I really got pulled because of my status on the show,” Snell said.
“I’ve never really experienced anything like that, even in a high school setting.”
The cast reportedly competed for social media followers
Hair department head Dugg Kirkpatrick — who also claimed he was mates with Monteith — alleged a rivalry kicked off on set about social media followers.
“I would often see the actors gathered, talking about how many people they’d acquired as followers,” Kirkpatrick claimed.
“And there was a competition. In the beginning, when they had to tweet every day, it was Lea that really had the numbers.”
“The fighting began almost immediately,” journalist Andy Swift added.
The Glee crew experienced a lot of loss
The Price of Glee revealed that Monteith and Rivera’s deaths weren’t the only tragedies associated with Glee. During the show’s run, several crew members passed away.
According to Rivera’s stand-in Jodi Tanaka, assistant director Jim Fuller died of a heart attack; production assistant Nancy Motes died by suicide; and Matthew Morrison‘s stand-in Mark Watson died suddenly. The details around his death are unknown, but the docuseries posited it may have been related to a “car fire”.
Mitchell Byerly — who worked on Glee as a rigging gaffer along with his brother J.A. — also died by suicide. His brother alleged that his death was related to “the intenseness of the show” and long working hours.
“On the rigging crew, you are constantly working daily … Most of our time cards are at 72 hours,” Byerly claimed.
“I blame it on the show. Why didn’t they shut down the show?”
Chris Baffa, the director of photography for Glee‘s first three seasons, said a “pattern” started emerging.
“This was a big set, a lot of people,” he said.
“But to lose so many people, so quickly, you see a pattern forming there that to me is still unbelievable.”
The cast allegedly weren’t ready to resume filming after Cory Monteith died
Lea Michele — who was dating Monteith at the time of his death — made the call to resume filming a few weeks after he passed away.
“Ultimately, the person who made the decision was Lea, who felt that the best thing for the cast and crew was to be together and to get back to work and be together every day and talk about our memories of him,” Ryan Murphy told People at the time.
“So we decided to do that with Lea’s blessing and we’re going to go back to work and have grief counsellors on the set for two weeks because people are really hurting.”
But according to the people interviewed for The Price of Glee, the cast and crew struggled with Michele’s decision.
“It was only a couple of weeks,” Tanaka said.
“All of the actors just had to pull themselves together and get back to work.”
“It probably would’ve been better to just, you know, end the show,” Glickman said.
“But there’s no possible way they were going to do that. The show was like a giant, massive money machine.”
The crew allegedly worked … A LOT
One Glee crew member claimed you “were expected to work hard … or you wouldn’t work there anymore”.
Another alleged they worked between 72 and 100 hours a week, which is simply cruel.
The Price of Glee is currently streaming on ID and discovery+ over in the States. It will be coming to Foxtel later this year, but the premiere date hasn’t been confirmed.