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The idea for Glee came to Ian Brennan in 2005. He was working as an actor in New York City (a literal dream-come-true for any Midwestern theater geek) and had a flashback to his days as a show choir performer back in Mount Prospect, Illinois. Inspired by these memories, the inexperienced writer composed a darkly funny screenplay about a high school glee club, queried the script, and, like many fledgling writers, met with plenty of rejection along the way.

But when the script landed in the lap of Nip/Tuck producer Ryan Murphy - himself a former show choir singer from Indiana - the idea grew legs. Murphy suggested that he, Brennan, and fellow Nip/Tuck writer Brad Falchuk use the screenplay as a jumping-off point for a television series. Brennan agreed, and Glee premiered on the Fox network in spring of 2009 to immediate critical praise and ratings validation. Glee was a hit!

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Brennan discussed his Illinois roots and the inspiration for the show. He explained that there’s an obvious ridiculousness about show choir that’s comical. But there’s also a genuine desire to transcend ordinary life, to rise to stardom, that Brennan wanted to capture in his script.


Sarah Watson is a New England native living in Chicago. She holds a B.A. in English and philosophy, an M.A. in English education, and an Illinois teaching certificate, making her a certified word nerd. Tweet her @sarahkwatson11.


Viewers learn that most of William McKinley’s extracurricular budget goes to the school’s winning cheerleading squad, the Cheerios, coached by nefarious Sue Sylvester. The Cheerios are the stars of the school, having garnered national prestige by appearing on Fox Sports Net. Although Coach Sylvester is combative and unprofessional, she’s also the source of trophies, press, and money for the school, so she gets what she wants - even if that includes expensive nutritionists, choreographers, and European dry-cleaning for her cheerleaders.

Although she won’t admit it, Sue feels threatened by Will and his glee aspirations. If glee is successful, it could take funding away from the Cheerios, potentially causing Sue to lose the awards and precarious status that give her fulfillment.

Undaunted, Will holds auditions for the glee club and nets five eager students: Mercedes Jones, Kurt Hummel, Artie Abrams, Tina Cohen-Chang, and Rachel Barry. The rag-tag team includes a stuttering student, a wheelchair-bound performer, a flamboyantly gay outcast, and two overbearing divas, but Will intrepidly leads the glee club anyway - thanks in part to the encouragement of Emma Pillsbury, the school’s obsessive-compulsive guidance counselor who has eyes for the married Will...

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