Turns out it’s not just Beanie Feldstein dealing with the aftershocks of what Glee hath wrought. Lindsay Pearce, an actress who recently played Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway, still gets hate mail from her time as a contestant on season one of The Glee Project, reports Insider. The Glee Project, which ran for two seasons from 2011 to 2012, basically got theater kids to compete for a chance to join everybody’s favorite band of musical misfits on the Fox series Glee. Although fan reaction was as intense and loving as the original show, there were real people on the other side of the TV screen. “Eleven years later, I still get hate mail sent to the theaters I work at and DMs telling me to kill myself,” says Pearce. “It’s easy to think, Well, you knew what you signed up for, but we were children. We all signed this contract but had no idea what that fine print actually meant.” In her case, it meant kissing fellow contestant Cameron Mitchell in their “Baby It’s Cold Outside” music-video challenge after being told to by director Erik White. Mitchell had not given consent to be kissed, saying on the show that his reluctance was out of respect for his real-life relationship. Mitchell later quit the show, not wanting to be intimate onscreen. Fans accused Pearce of violating boundaries, but Mitchell says he blames production, not Pearce. “I was very upset and felt taken advantage of — not by Lindsay, obviously,” he told Insider.
Even after all that, the show had a second season, which was won by Blake Jenner, who went on to play Ryder Lynn on Glee. In 2020, he confirmed that the domestic-abuse allegations from his Glee co-star and former wife, Melissa Benoist, were about him, saying he took “full responsibility” while accusing her of abuse. Season two also featured future Tony winner Ali Stoker, so maybe that explains why producers considered doing it one more time. “There was going to be a third season, but there were money issues,” says Christopher Orne, a producer on The Glee Project, which aired on Oxygen. “I don’t know what I’m allowed to say, but it was a financial decision. Nobody said they didn’t want it. Everybody wanted it.” It’s not too late, guys! Maybe the winner gets a role in Funny Girl?