Every time I mention a cast member from Glee in Celebrity Social Media, I can’t help but point out that I think the show is cursed. Beyond all the very bad stuff that happened to various people, that show was surrounded by a weird energy field. Co-creator Ryan Murphy has said that the set was a mess and there were boundary issues – they acted like a teen theatre troupe (him included) and with that comes drama. With drama comes divas, and one name that came up over and over as a source of tension: Lea Michele.
How can that be? She’s so sweet and posts about her homemade nut milk on Instagram! Beneath her sunny image, she has Dolores Umbridge energy to her, but with show tunes and selfies. She of course wasn’t the only issue on set (or even the worst, all things considered) and some bad behavior can be attributed to youthful egos; new kids in the business, each fighting for scraps of power. Being part of an ensemble can be detrimental in the climb to fame because the spotlight can turn actors against each other, especially on shows that get really popular in the first season. A lot of that was certainly at play but even by that metric, the show was a mess and years later there’s still tension and resentment.
As some of you might know, I’ve been lovingly snarking on Lea for a year because she’s made every single thing about her wedding. She posts about it constantly, for any reason, like a bachelorette anniversary (not a thing!) or birthday wishes for her friend. She is capital M married. We knew she would bring that energy to the belly cupping pics and I also suspected that if she posted about Black Lives Matter and George Floyd it wouldn’t be on her main Instagram feed. Instead, she posted to Twitter.
Actress Samantha Marie Ware (who appeared on Glee as Jane Howard) quote tweeted her with this:
This is when Twitter took notice and it traveled fast, with support from other people who appeared on Glee including Amber Riley and Alex Newell. Even though there’s so much real news happening, Twitter had time last night. To quote the incomparable Ira Madison III:
Here are the Tweets:
June 2, 2020
June 2, 2020
https://t.co/80ohlWM4Yd pic.twitter.com/tcfQyhgiGP— Alex Newell (@thealexnewell) June 2, 2020
Child we ainâ€™t got not a damn thing to lie about 6 years later! pic.twitter.com/TPRlKQdGLf— Alex Newell (@thealexnewell) June 2, 2020
That’s not all. There’s also drag performer William:
Lea treated me so subhuman i left the set of Glee. Pass the ðŸ¿ https://t.co/LKCHadWLqI— Willam (@willam) June 2, 2020
On top of the Glee cast, Yvette Nicole Brown, who worked with Lea on a short-lived show called The Mayor, responded to Amber Riley and Alex Newell with support.
I felt every one of those capital letters. âœŠðŸ¾— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) June 2, 2020
When all this was going on last night, Kevin McHale (who was also part of Glee) backed up Amber Riley and in a thread about “problematic” Glee cast members, and only defended Chord Overstreet (Kevin denied Chord is MAGA). See the thread here.
All of this is co-signing for Samantha, which is heartening to see because it’s the kind of thing that you could totally see being dismissed in real life: a young woman of colour on set vs. “the star.” Even without the supporting tweets, I believe Samantha because there is no way she’s making up such a specific threat – sh-t in a wig?! Damn Lea Michele! Who sh-ts in a wig?!
There’s also behavior beyond this specific incident, like an old interview with Hailee Steinfeld, who talked about Lea way back in 2011 (you can read a vintage Lainey piece about it here!).
The rumours about Lea pre-date Glee and go back to her Broadway days when she starred in Spring Awakening (last night I found myself immersed in old comment logs from Broadway fan sites). She’s long had a reputation for being entitled and combative on set and would allegedly throw tantrums, hold up production and ignore co-workers.
But if the rumours are true, why would Ryan Murphy keep casting her? Well for one thing, she is talented. Another reason is that there could be a bond between them, or maybe he likes a little friction in set, or maybe her attitude has evolved over the years. Maybe she’s easier to work with now, but if you still believe Lea Michele was sweet and innocent Rachel Berry and all of the accusations against her are “made up” or “bullying,” well, I can’t help you. Ask yourself why you think that.
As for the people mentioned above, I’m sure they have more stories that they may one day share. Twitter will be listening, even if Lea is too busy posting throwbacks of her wedding to acknowledge them.
And since this is all about jazz hands drama, let’s cast the Ryan Murphy production.
Damn if that doesn’t fit.
Here’s Jessica Lange blowing past Lea on a red carpet in 2014.