What Glee Did for My Early Childhood

Every time I log onto Netflix and aimlessly scroll to find a new TV show to binge, I am hit with a wave of nostalgia when I circle around to Glee, pausing to watch an episode before I continue my mission to find a new show.


Growing up in a small, suburban Ohio town, about an hour from Lima itself, I connected immediately to the show and its characters from the pilot episode. It almost felt like a self-help show for me; to know that these characters felt as displaced in small-town Ohio as I did, I knew that I wasn’t alone in feeling misplaced.


As obnoxious and over-bearing as Rachel Berry was painted to be, I felt invested in her narrative. It ran parallel to mine – I, too, was a dorky, musical-theatre-adoring, awkward, lonely high schooler, whose initials were also R.B., and who couldn’t wait to move to a big city.

Photo Courtesy of FOX


For the entirety of my high school career, I would play a game with myself that, quite literally, helped me survive my days: if I pretended like I was magically inserted into the life of Rachel Berry, spending eight-hour days at school five times a week, it was like I was building an armour to protect myself from other people for the next four years. Although my high school bullies weren’t as ruthless as those of William McKinley High School’s, I knew I could survive any metaphorical slushy, just like Rachel. If nothing else, at the end of a terrible school day, I could go home, turn on an episode of Glee, and shut out the world.


As I reached the last few months of high school, I was too overwhelmed by college essays and senior projects to spend every day binging episodes of Glee. I was aware of this, though – I had so little left of high school that I had enough strength built up to survive what was left. When months turned to weeks and my college essays and projects had been completed, I found myself going back to these episodes to reminisce.


The night before my high school graduation, I watched episode twenty-two of season three (and if you scroll down my Instagram, you’ll see that’s what I captioned my graduation picture), better known as the "Graduation Episode".

Photo Courtesy of Billboard


All at once, I felt eighteen and fourteen again, reflecting on how connected I felt to a fictional show – still, I felt a part of something every day. If I hadn’t watched Rachel Berry spontaneously leave everything familiar to her behind to move to New York, I probably wouldn’t have had applied to a university in a city bigger than anything I’ve ever known. Now, living in Chicago, I’m where I can watch every musical I’ve wanted to, where obnoxious is described as passionate, and where I have my own little group of New Direction-ers.


It comforts me to think, in an imaginary world where fictional characters exist and are living undocumented lives, that our paths are still run side-by-side, as they always have. I am eternally grateful for Rachel Berry.