If there is one thing The Glee Project is really driving home about its sister show Glee, it's that the show is trying to remind kids across America that they're not struggling through high school alone. So when Cory Monteith dropped in on the Oxygen reality series, there was no way he was going to get off without talking about the pain behind his success story.
The Canadian who has embodied Finn Hudson since the first season of Glee was on set -- appropriately enough -- for the vulnerability episode of The Glee Project. The assignment meant the competitors needed to dig deep for a music video that doubled as an anti-bullying PSA. But there's a reason Monteith is the guy casting director Robert Ulrich calls the "most accessible" actor on Glee.
Monteith wasn't afraid to do a little digging of his own to help power the most emotional episode of the reality series so far:
I think about stuff with my family, like my parents' divorce ... You get that feeling in your stomach and you want to run away, but you have to feel it.
You have to tap into what makes you uncomfortable ... if it's real for you, it's going to be real for the audience.
It's the kind of candid talk that the contestants seemed to need to finally let loose and do what a Glee star does: inspire TV viewers with the reminder that they're not alone. After listening to Monteith get real, the people vying to be his future co-star gave up some childhood horror stories to help set the stage for the REM cover of "Everybody Hurts" that served as the cornerstone of The Glee Project's anti-bullying campaign.
If you think the show hasn't done enough with a gay kid's suicide attempt or a pregnant teenager getting kicked out of her home by her religious parents, how about these contestants' backstories:
Ayalin -- Growing up Muslim, she grew accustomed to being called a "terrorist" by bullies at school.
Shanna -- She learned that her mom was into drugs not at home but at school, from girls who would warn other kids not to play with her because she was a "crackbaby."
Abraham -- He's straight, but without a dad around to act as a male role model, he was accustomed to spending time with women. In high school, that meant being called a "fag" a lot of the time.
Lily Mae -- Ryan Murphy worries he can't sell her on Glee because she doesn't seem like much of an underdog, and maybe he's right. She was the bully in middle school, until watching Mean Girls made her ashamed of her cruelty and set her straight.
Moving stuff, huh? With all the pain and suffering going on, it's no surprise Ryan Murphy opted to give the bottom three a break and not cut a single contestant this week. But the contestants won't have Cory inspiring them next week, and someone is going to have to get cut eventually!
Whose story did you identify with the most? What did you think of Cory revealing a little bit of himself to the cast?
Image via Oxygen