‘The Price of Glee’: 8 Biggest Takeaways From Docuseries

Chris Colfer, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Jenna Ushkowitz in Glee
Matthias Clamer / © Fox Television / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Glee might have ended almost eight years ago, but its off-screen controversies, including the deaths of three of its stars, are still a hot topic of discussion, as evidenced in Investigation Discovery‘s new docuseries, The Price of Glee.

The three-part series premiered on Monday, January 16, and saw new interviews with friends, family, and publicists of former Glee cast members, in addition to crew members who worked on the show and journalists who covered its rise and fall.

However, no cast members are involved in the production, with many of them speaking out against the series. Kevin McHale, who played Artie Abrams in the hit musical comedy, tweeted last month in response to a post claiming the show would have access to key cast members. “Show me this ‘cast’ you speak of. This is [wastebasket emoji],” McHale wrote.

McHale’s co-star Chord Overstreet, added, “I think anybody that knows anything about that show and experienced it doesn’t have anything to do with [the docuseries], from what I know.”

Below are some of the biggest takeaways from the show, which is also available to stream on discovery+.

Cory Monteith in Glee
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Cory Monteith's Addiction Problems Started as a Teenager

Monteith, who died on July 13, 2013, had struggled with addiction issues since he was a teenager, according to his friend Frederic Robinson, and initially didn’t want his past to become public.

“When he got the part, he was supposed to be this good kid playing this role. He didn’t want his past getting out,” Robinson said. “The beginning of his success with Glee, we were really being told, ‘Don’t let it out that he’s got the drugs and alcohol problem.'”

Lea Michele and Cory Monteith in Glee
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Crew Members Didn't Think Cory and Lea Michele Were a Good Match

Lea Michele and Monteith didn’t go public with their relationship until 2012, but they had been dating years earlier, according to various crew members. However, not everybody thought they were good together.

“I found that interesting that they ended up together. I was really very surprised,” said set decorator Barbara Munch. “It seemed odd because it was about her, always. And I think he just accepted that.”

“A lot of Cory’s confusion had a lot to do with his relationship with Lea Michele,” added head of the hair department Dugg Kirkpatrick. “I don’t know that she was a friend. I think she was involved with him because he was on a TV show.”

The cast of Glee
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Cast and Crew Were 'Forced' Back to Work Two Weeks After Cory's Death

The show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, recently revealed the show probably should have ended after Monteith’s passing. However, that wasn’t what happened, as just two weeks later, the production was back up and running.

“It was only a couple of weeks. All of the actors had to just pull themselves together and get back to work,” explained Jodi Tanaka, Naya Rivera’s stand-in. “Everyone was just kind of forced to.”

Cast of Glee pilot
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Several Crew Members Died During the Show's Run

The deaths of Glee’s on-screen stars Monteith, Rivera, and Mark Salling are well known, but the docuseries also shed light on a number of crew members who passed during the show’s run.

This includes J.A. Byerly, a rigging gaffer who died by suicide at the end of Season 6; Jim Fuller, who was in charge of the background actors, who passed from a heart attack; and production assistant Nancy Motes, who also died by suicide.

Lea Michele in Glee
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Lea Michele Allegedly Removed a Background Actor From the Lunch Table

According to Season 5 actor Dabier, he was asked to leave a lunch table with other actors at the behest of Michele.

“I was there maybe 10 minutes, and then I got pulled from somebody on set,” he recalled. “She goes, ‘Somebody specifically at the table doesn’t want you sitting there… It’s not you, it’s just the person there just doesn’t feel like you belong with the rest of the group.’”

Naya Rivera in Glee
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Naya Rivera’s Father Still Doesn’t Know How She Died

Rivera was declared missing in July 2020 after her son Josey was found alone. Five days later, her body was found. Two years, later, her father, George Rivera, still doesn’t have an answer to what happened.

“Naya was a really good swimmer,” he said. “They have never given an excuse why. No one has come up to me and said, ‘Hey, George, we’ve solved the mystery.’”

Mark Salling in Glee
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Mark Salling Was 'A Bit Off' on Set

Salling, who played Noah “Puck” Puckerman, was arrested in 2015 for possessing child pornography. He later pleaded guilty to the charges but died by suicide on January 30, 2018, before his sentencing hearing began.

According to Munch, Salling felt a “bit off” from the start. “He was quieter, for sure, and kept to himself because I think he felt more of an adult than the others,” she explained. “He just was, you know, a bit off. He wasn’t just a regular young man. He had some issues going on; it seemed obvious.”

Cory Monteith in Glee
Adam Rose / © Fox / courtesy Everett Collection

A Cast Member Apparently Encouraged Monteith to Drink

One of the most shocking claims in the series comes from Kirkpatrick, who said that a cast member encouraged Monteith to drink after the troubled star had returned from rehab.

“[Monteith] said he was at a party and hadn’t been drinking, and he wanted to have a drink, but he knew he shouldn’t,” Kirkpatrick recalled. “He was told by a certain cast member that night, ‘If you want to have a drink, you should have a drink. I’ll be here; you can trust that I’ll always be here.’”

“That confused him and made him mad,” Kirkpatrick continued. “But he did. He started drinking because he was given permission by somebody that he loved. He resented it, but he also took the direction. It took him on a path to destruction.”