Fox’s Glee may have earned a fifth and sixth season order, but the upcoming season of the high school-based drama won’t get a pool of students from Oxygen’s reality series The Glee Project. The show has not earned a third season renewal at the NBCUniversal owned cable station, effectively cancelling the series.
News broke on Tuesday that the series would not be returning, which links the decision a little suspiciously to the death of Glee cast member Cory Monteith, who served as a mentor during episodes of the reality show. However, in a statement to THR, an NBC spokesperson said that Monteith’s death actually had no bearing on Oxygen’s decision to cut the program, with EW noting that the decision was made some weeks ago.
The decision seems to be a strategic move made for two reasons, including the fact that ratings were down in Season 2 of the hit series. Additionally, Glee wasn’t renewed for a fifth and sixth season until April, which meant The Glee Project couldn’t get the ball rolling on a new season until it would have been too late to fulfill the show’s promise to winners on the series, who earn a role on the hit show. As noted by THR, it would have been 18 months before the show could have aired new episodes, again.
Those theories help to explain why the NBCUniversal rep was so nice about the cancellation, even calling the show “a critical darling.”
"The Glee Project will not be returning to Oxygen but we are extremely proud of this series, which launched the careers of several talented individuals. The show had so much heart, and we thank Ryan Murphy and all of the creative talent who helped make the series a critical darling.”
The Glee Project has done a lot for talented newcomers over its two seasons on the air. In fact, Season 2 winner Blake Jenner earned a decent episode arc on the series last season. The writers and the rest of the creative team liked his character so much, he was recently promoted to a series regular on the show’s soon-to-air fifth season. Other Glee Project participants have gone on to appear in Fox’s musical dramedy, including Alex Newell, Samuel Larson, and Damian McGinty.
The news is especially untimely, as Oxygen signed on to air syndicated episodes of Glee beginning later this year. Oxygen paid a reported $500,000 per episode for the series, which in hindsight may have been a teensy bit high. I’m sure the network was hoping that episodes of The Glee Project would supplement the syndicated fodder, but that plan worked out about as well as a high school romance usually does.