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Glee Was Originally 'The NC-17 Version of Show Choir', Says Ryan Murphy

Mr. Schue was apparently a crystal meth addict in an early script.
  • Matthew Morrison in Glee. (Photo: FOX/Courtesy Everett Collection)
    Matthew Morrison in Glee. (Photo: FOX/Courtesy Everett Collection)

    Glee wasn't always the network-friendly musical comedy we know today. 

    During an appearance on the inaugural episode of the And That’s What You REALLY Missed podcast hosted by Glee cast members Kevin McHale (Artie Abrams) and Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina Cohen-Chang), show creator Ryan Murphy revealed that the series started out as something very different than its final form. 

    "We were having these conversations and I was trying to figure it out," said Murphy. "Like serendipity, I went to the gym and I was in a towel and a guy went up and handed me a script and he said, 'I had a feeling you were in show choir, am I right?' And I was like 'Yeah.' And he said, 'My friend wrote this script and you should read it.'"

    While Murphy thought the idea was a strong one, the premise for the series was a bit too dark and mature for network television - and the show's main character had some serious demons. "Mr. Schue, I believe, was a crystal meth addict in Ian's script," Murphy said. "The NC-17 version of show choir with a weird protagonist who was unraveling…I just need something optimistic."

    With a lot of work and fresh ideas, the pilot was revamped and became the series that ran on Fox from 2009 to 2015. Created by Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan, Glee starred Morrison, McHale, Ushkowitz, Lea Michele, Corey Monteith, Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays, Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Amber Riley, Heather Morris, Darren Criss, and Melissa Benoist.

    Glee docuseries exploring the controversies surrounding the series is currently in the works at Discovery+.

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    Jade Budowski is a freelance writer with a knack for ruining punchlines and harboring dad-aged celebrity crushes. She was previously a reporter/producer at Decider and is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow her on Twitter: @jadebudowski.

    TOPICS: Glee, Ryan Murphy