Here we go again: another sad farewell to a promising young star who died from drug use. Glee star Cory Monteith died alone in his hotel room from a fatal combo of heroin and champagne at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver on July 13. The show recently paid tribute to the actor in the memorial episode, “The Quarterback”, which aired on Oct. 10.
In the episode, Monteith’s character, quarterback Finn Hudson, has died two weeks prior. His death is not explained, his funeral is not shown, and drug addiction is never mentioned. This is highly unusual for the popular show, which routinely dispenses life lessons about transgender issues, obesity, homosexuality, and teen pregnancy alongside its trademark singing and dancing. Powerful songs “I’ll Stand by You” and “If I Die Young” were sung. Monteith’s costar and offstage girlfriend Lea Michele sang a heartbreaking “Make You Feel My Love.” Over the closing credits, there was a brief PSA featuring three cast members that addressed Monteith’s battle with substance abuse.
“Our friend Cory didn’t look or act like an addict,” said Jane Lynch.”He was happy, successful, and seemingly had it all.” Matthew Morrison added, “Addiction is a serious disease that can hide in plain sight. But no one needs to fight it alone.” Kevin McHale gave out the 1-800-662-HELP number to get connected to local support groups.
The ratings revealed viewers’ interest in Monteith’s untimely passing. “The Quarterback” drew a 2.8 rating in adults 18-49, 2.9 in 18-34, and 7.4 million total viewers. That was up 75 percent from last week in ages 18-49 and up 81p percent among ages 18-34. This is an increase of 68% in total viewers. In plain English, the memorial episode was the series’ highest-rated episode in those age groups in over a year.
Monteith’s death at 31 is the latest in a long and tragic line of talented “Gone Too Soon” celebrities including Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston. None of these celebrities thrived in the limelight and all sought refuge – and found death – in the numbing effects of drugs and alcohol.
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