The series focuses on a high school show choir, known as a glee club, at William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio. Will Schuester takes over the glee club and attempts to restore the glee club to its former glory while developing feelings for his co-worker, guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury, as well as defending the glee club from cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester.
A major focus of the series is the students in the glee club: their relationships as couples, their love of singing and desire for popularity coming into conflict due to their membership in the low-status club, and the many twists and turns of life in high school and as a teenager.
Season 1 features the show choir New Directions competing for the first time on the show choir circuit, winning at the Sectionals competition but losing at Regionals, while its members and faculty deal with sex, relationships, homosexuality, teenage pregnancy, disabilities, acceptance and other social issues.
The main characters are Will Schuester, Sue Sylvester, Will’s wife Terri, Emma Pillsbury, and glee club members Rachel, Finn, Artie, Kurt, Mercedes, Tina, Puck, and Quinn.
Season 2 follows the club through wins at the Sectionals and Regionals competitions before losing at the Nationals competition in New York City, while the characters deal with relationships, religion, homophobia, bullying, rumors, teenage drinking, death and other social issues.
Season 3 follows the club through wins at Sectionals and Regionals competitions, before they win the Nationals competition in Chicago. The characters deal with gender identity, adoption, domestic abuse, teenage suicide, bullying, disabilities, texting while driving, college and other social issues. The McKinley High class of 2012 graduates at the end of the season.
Season 4 follows the club through a loss at the Sectionals competition and subsequent reinstatement when the winning Dalton Academy Warblers were found to have used banned substances before winning at the Regionals competition, which meant they would be attending their third consecutive National show choir competition.
In the meantime, Rachel and Kurt navigate NYADA and their lives as aspiring performers, plus their relationships with Finn and Blaine. This season includes sex, bulimia, gender identity, child molestation, dyslexia, school violence, and pregnancy scares.
Season 5 shows the reigning champion glee club finishing second at Nationals competition before the club is permanently disbanded by Sue Sylvester, now school principal. The show jumps several months forward in time and deals entirely with the alumni’s lives in New York City for the remainder of the season, including Rachel’s successful Broadway debut.
Actor Cory Monteith died during summer before the fifth season was shot; his character, Finn Hudson, died in the season’s third episode, The Quarterback.
Season 6 focuses on Rachel, who returns to McKinley and decides to reconstitute the glee club with all-new McKinley students and with Kurt’s help. Will Schuester is now coaching Vocal Adrenaline, while Blaine is coaching the Dalton Academy Warblers. The club wins the Nationals competition, Sue is fired as principal and Will is hired to be the principal of a McKinley High re-purposed as a magnet arts school, with Sam as the new director of New Directions.
The finale jumps five years into the future: Rachel has married Jesse St. James, wins a Tony Award, and is a surrogate mother for Kurt and Blaine (who are themselves Broadway stars). Artie has directed Tina in a film, Mercedes is a highly successful recording artist, and Sue has just been re-elected Vice President of the United States. The McKinley auditorium is renamed after Finn.