What did you miss on ‘Glee’? Two cast members reveal truths, drama behind the hit show

The logo for “Glee” (2009-15) is pictured. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
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There has been somewhat of a “Glee” (2009–15) resurgence in recent months. With Heather Morris winning “The Masked Dancer” (2020–), Amber Riley predicted to be the Harp on “The Masked Singer” (2019–), Lea Michele receiving rave reviews for her Broadway performance as Fanny Brice and plenty more, it seems like the actors from “Glee” are everywhere. Similarly, social media seems to love talking about “Glee,” whether it is TikTok compiling clips of Will Schuester being creepy or YouTuber Mike’s Mic releasing an almost four-hour series recap. With this recent Glee-surgence comes a hilarious and insightful podcast hosted by Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale, who played Tina and Artie in the series, respectively.

The brand-new podcast “And That’s What You REALLY Missed,” the first episode of which aired on Oct. 31, delves deep into the world of “Glee,” bringing on fellow cast members and creatives who worked on the show to discuss the cast drama and process of making a hit television show. This is not the first time McHale and Ushkowitz have done a “Glee”-themed podcast; their former podcast “Showmance” (2019–20) had over 70 episodes. The duo however took a break from the podcast following the death of their friend and castmate Naya Rivera, and the podcast never returned. 

“And That’s What You REALLY Missed” is definitely different from “Showmance.” “Showmance” was very much an episode recap and provided insights into the songs and scenes of the show and not much else. With “And That’s What You REALLY Missed,” the duo is clear that they want to tell the truth about the show — the good and the bad, what happened on screen and what happened off-screen. 

The first two episodes consist of a long conversation with “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy, who also wrote and directed many of the episodes of the show. Murphy reveals never-before-heard secrets and a more vulnerable side of himself in discussing harder topics such as the deaths of Rivera and Cory Monteith. Humorous insights include Murphy saying that the character of Will Schuester was intended for Justin Timberlake and was supposed to be a crystal meth addict.

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 “Glee” was also known for its incredible guest stars, which included entertainment legends such as Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Gwyneth Paltrow, Britney Spears and many more. Murphy explained that at the time, so many stars wanted to be on the show, but there were often scheduling conflicts, or it was hard to find a way to write them into the show. Because of these reasons, many big industry names were unable to appear on the show, including Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lopez. 

Murphy’s discussion of the harder aspects of “Glee” prove that the show was not all light and laughter. Murphy stated that “The Quarterback” (2013) episode, which was a tribute to Monteith, was a tough decision and one that, had he done it today, might not have happened. As a whole, Murphy talked about a lack of mental health support on the set at the time. He stated that as the show became a phenomenon, and he started working on other projects, he felt guilty for not being there for the cast to support them. Murphy also said that none of the cast members verbalized their issues or concerns while on set and only revealed their emotions about it after they reconnected to mourn Rivera. Despite the hardships the “Glee” cast endured, Ushkowitz, McHale and Murphy constantly emphasized that the cast and crew felt like a family and still do to this day. 

The third episode discusses the pilot and the work and changes that went into it, including how they rehearsed the first “Don’t Stop Believin’” number for hours and how Ushkowitz’s character got a rebrand from nerdy to emo. Revisiting the pilot over a decade after its release was entertaining, and both Ushkowitz and McHale laughed about many of the scenes that likely would not air today due to their insensitive nature. In the fourth and most recent episode, the duo invited Chris Colfer, who played Kurt, to discuss his experience. Kurt was one of the few gay characters on television at the time and Colfer talks about many of his struggles with homophobia and being a young gay actor in the industry. 

“And That’s What You REALLY Missed” is a must-listen-to podcast for any fans of “Glee” or people interested in television and pop culture. The podcast not only reveals truths about the show for the fans, but it provides real, in-depth details about the television industry and the work that goes into creating such a popular show. Ushkowitz and McHale are amusing and playful hosts and do a great job of making the show feel like a conversation, not simply them spitting facts and details. Revisiting a show like “Glee,” which had such an impact on the industry and contained so much controversy, is a hard task as one has to find a balance between being critical and also respectful of the work. Ushkowitz and McHale seem to be the show’s biggest fans and biggest critics, which is the best combination for this podcast. 

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