Tonight, the show that sounds “like ‘High School Musical’ if ‘High School Musical’ had its stomach punched and its lunch money stolen” is going to be mourning one of its own. I’ve spent three separate columns on Cory Monteith’s tragic passing three months ago. With the exception of my upcoming recap, this will be the last time I devote an entire piece to Cory or his portrayal of Finn. It’s important not to dwell or wallow too much in one’s grief. However, I wanted to pay one final tribute to what I think are Finn’s best ‘Glee’ moments that didn’t have to do with musical performances.
1. The “Single Ladies” play
Although we see early on that Finn’s not just your average dumb jock, football proves to be a crucial part of who he is as a person. It’s the only other extracurricular he has, really, besides glee club. Most of his friends play football and his first girlfriend is the head cheerleader. By the third season he’s actually considering whether a football scholarship might pay for his higher education. But the best thing Finn Hudson ever did on a football field boils down to one thing: calling the “Single Ladies” play. With nothing left to lose (and over the objections of his teammates), he calls for Beyonce’s mega-hit to be played over the PA system so Kurt can warm himself up for a place kick that actually wins McKinley High their first game of the season. It isn’t the first time Finn sticks his neck out for Kurt, and it won’t be the last.
2. Finn tells Mr. Schue about Quinn’s pregnancy
As I mentioned before, much of the emotional weight in season 1 is carried by Quinn and her baby-daddy drama. She’s the president of the Celibacy Club, but she cheats on Finn with Puck and gets knocked up for her trouble. Oh, and then she decides she’s gonna pin the blame on Finn anyway, because she thinks he’s less likely to be a “Lima loser” than Puck is. Finn naively believes her and throws himself into the idea of being the best dad he can be. (Killer Pretenders solo to your unborn daughter’s sonogram, anyone?) Before he gets to that point, though, he’s terrified. He goes to Mr. Schue for help and breaks down in his teacher’s arms. Cory’s portrayal of this moment broke my heart just a little; I have a teenage son, and I got pregnant out of wedlock myself, so it rang incredibly true for me.
3. “Faggy lamp”
I’m about as much of a fan of this particular f-word as Burt Hummel is, but this scene is some of Cory Monteith’s finest work as Finn. Here’s a teenage boy who’s being asked to abandon his childhood home in favor of sharing a single bedroom with another teenage boy who looks at him like he’s sex on a stick! Kurt was pretty open about his crush on Finn, and only set their respective parents up together so he could get closer to the object of his affections. Finn crossed a line with some of the language he used, but he registered his mistake almost immediately – and none of the adults in his life seemed to spare much of a thought for his feelings about the situation. I think he got a raw deal from Burt here, and from lots of the fans, too.
4. Red rubber shower curtain dress
By the end of the show’s first Lady Gaga-inspired episode, Finn has earned the wrath of both Kurt and his dad, and been kicked out of the Hummel home. He’s tried talking it out with Kurt at school, but keeps getting the cold shoulder from a boy who’s still licking the wounds of unrequited love. Against this backdrop, the muscle-heads from the football team decide to turn up their bullying, especially since the glee clubbers are all walking the halls of McKinley High dressed in some of Gaga’s more outlandish costumes. It takes time, but Finn nearly always figures out how to do the right thing, and it’s this impulse that prompts him to rescue Tina and Kurt from a pair of thugs – decked out in an astonishing red rubber shower curtain dress. This is the beginning of what Finn will later dub “Furt”.
5. Jean Sylvester’s funeral
Finn and Kurt get together again to do something wonderful for a lovely person, on behalf of someone who doesn’t really deserve it at all. Coach Sue has been so delightfully horrible to the New Directions in so many different ways that I was at first hard-pressed to think I could feel sorry for her. And then her sweet sister Jean passed away. Showing once again that he understands people so much better than books or figures, Finn makes sure that Sue is able to give her sister a proper goodbye, even when she swears she doesn’t want him to.
This is really so much more than a moment, it’s a relationship. Besides the one he has with his mom and Kurt, it’s probably the most important relationship in his life. For four seasons we watched Finn and Rachel sing together and dance around each other, literally and figuratively. We watched him help her learn how to unclench her ambitions a little, and saw her cheer for him to find his own dreams. While I enjoyed watching them find love in the beginning, my favorite Finchel moments were towards the end of season 3 and 4, after they’d both done some growing up and were learning how to be adults, alone and together. So here they are, in chronological order:
- Finn proposes to Rachel – we all knew it was coming, but it still made our hearts skip a beat to see it.
- Finn sets Rachel free – as brutal as this was watch, it must have been so much harder for Finn to do. Cory and Lea were raw and real and heartbreaking here.
- The “flower scene” – Finn calls Rachel out on way she’s lying to Brody (and to herself) about what her true feelings are.
- “Stay away from my future wife!” – After being tipped off by Santana and her Mexican third eye about Brody’s man-whoring ways, Finn goes to defend Rachel’s honor. A left hook never felt so satisfying.