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Content warning: This article contains discussions of death, suicide, and violence that some may find upsetting.
Investigation Discovery's new docuseries about the dark behind-the-scenes truth of the award-winning teen musical series, Glee, officially hit Discovery+ on January 16. The Price of Glee not only captures the meteoric rise of the Ryan Murphy-led series, but the tragic deaths of some of its cast members, including Cory Monteith and Naya Rivera.
Through interviews with publicists, crew members, journalists, and relatives of the Glee cast, the three-part documentary taps into unfortunate events that unfolded during the show's six-season run, including the alleged bullying cast members faced from Lea Michele and the reportedly abusive marriage between Melissa Benoist and Blake Jenner.
Ahead, find the biggest takeaways from ID's docuseries, The Price of Glee.
Crew members didn't understand Lea Michele and Cory Monteith's romance
Just like their characters, Rachel and Finn, Lea Michele and Cory Monteith had an unlikely romance off-screen. The couple began dating in 2012 and even got engaged before Cory tragically passed away from a heroin overdose in July 2013. On The Price of Glee, crew members shared that they were weary of their relationship.
"I did not understand the two of them together," Garrett Greer, an assistant to the executive producer of Glee, said in the documentary. "I had friends who lived in New York and grew up with Lea, so I was very aware of her reputation. She had a rep for being a little bit difficult."
"I found that interesting that they ended up together. I was really very surprised," said Barbara Munch, who decorated sets for the series during its first two seasons.
Cory Monteith hid his addiction and allegedly relapsed because of a cast member
According to The Price of Glee, Cory Monteith's drug addiction started a few years after his parents got divorced, when he was 13. The documentary revealed that he would skip school to use drugs and that he went on to attend many schools and programs for troubled teens. In 2001, he went to rehab at 19 years old, after his mother and friends staged an intervention. However, it wasn't until the end of Glee's second season that he publicly addressed his struggle with addiction. "I feel like I had to step in at some point and relate to people with my experience and where I come from," he said during an interview at the time, per The Calgary Herald.
Glee season 3 hair department head Dugg Kirkpatrick described one of the last times he saw Cory before his death in 2013 and reiterated a heartbreaking story that the actor allegedly told him during a haircut. "He said he was at a party and he hadn't been drinking and wanted to have a drink but knew he shouldn't," Dugg explained. "And he was told by a certain cast member that same night, 'You know, if you want to have a drink, you should have a drink. I'll be here, you can always trust that I will be here for you.'"
Dugg said that he wouldn't name the cast member who allegedly spoke to Cory because he didn't hear the conversation himself. As for Cory's decision, Dugg said "He resented it, but also he took the direction. I think it set him on a path to destruction."
Naya Rivera's dad says she and Lea Michele "hated each other"
Per Us Weekly, showrunner Ryan Murphy put rumors about an alleged feud between Naya Rivera and Lea Michele to rest in May 2014, telling Extra that both women had "an open invitation" to stay on Glee for as long as they wanted.
In her 2016 memoir, Sorry Not Sorry, Naya addressed her dynamic with Lea on set. "One of the Glee writers once said that Lea and I were like two sides of the same battery and that about sums us up," Naya wrote. "We are both strong-willed and competitive — not just with each other but with everyone — and that's not a good mixture."
Now, in The Price of Glee, Naya's father, George Rivera, spoke out about his daughter's relationship with the Funny Girl star. "There was always a fight between them. Always. Everybody knew. Everybody saw it," George said in the docuseries. "They hated each other but, at the same time, respected each other's talent."
Several crew members died during Glee's run
The show seemed to be plagued by tragedy. In addition to Salling, Rivera, and Monteith, ID’s documentary revealed that several Glee crew members also passed away during the show’s six-season run. The late crew members include rigging gaffer Mitchell Byerly, assistant director Jim Fuller, production assistant Nancy Motes, a "lead prop guy" named Paul, and a stand-in for Matthew Morrison, who played Mr. Schuster.
The Glee cast allegedly became competitive about their social media following
Just as the FOX series took off in the 2010s, social media was also growing increasingly popular. While the show would highlight fans as the "Gleek of the Week" on social media during each week's episode, each cast member was also growing a following of their own on platforms like Twitter and Instagram.
"I would oftentimes see the actors gathered talking about how many people they acquired as followers, and it was a competition," one of Glee's hairstylists, Dugg Kirkpatrick, said in the documentary. "In the beginning, they had to tweet every day. It was Lea who really had the numbers," he continued.
Naya Rivera's dad warned her about boating before her death
One of the more notable interviews in the ID docuseries was with Naya Rivera's father, George Rivera, who opened up about her tragic death and his last conversation with his daughter. Per a local Los Angeles ABC news affiliate, Naya accidentally drowned while boating with her son at California's Lake Piru in 2020.
"I get a sinking feeling, 'cause we've been boating forever," he said. "I was FaceTiming with her trying to talk her through the pitfalls of trying to anchor your boat. First of all, I said, 'Naya, you're on a pontoon boat, that's not a boat ... why are you on a pontoon boat?'"
"I said, 'Do not jump off that effin' boat. If you've got an anchor, you can anchor it, but do you know how to anchor it?" he continued. "We went through a couple [of] iterations like that and then the FaceTime call hung up and that was the last time I talked to her."
George revealed that he began a days-long road trip from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Ventura County, California once he got a call from the police about his daughter's boating accident. "I knew immediately when I got the phone call in Knoxville that it was over with," he said. "You don't find a drifting, 5-year-old child asleep on a boat at the end of a lake without his mother and have any hope. I had no hope."
As for his grief, George said it doesn't really pass. "You don't process it ... I don't know what everybody else does but for me, it's as fresh today as it was two years ago," he said.
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