‘Glee’ season 4 debate: Why is Damian McGinty not returning?

If there is one thing we know about “Glee,” it is that they like to hold on to their characters — even at times after they no longer have much use in the story. Take for example Sue Sylvester, who is one of the greatest characters on TV, but yet gets saddled at times with storylines that make no sense and detract from the rest of the show (see: most of season 2). Heck, this coming season they’re bringing back all of the graduating seniors in New Directions, despite the fact that it is rather unrealistic that they would all stay in touch. Remember, if you go back to the show’s pilot episode, this was a show very much about Matthew Morrison’s Will and the glee club itself, not the people in the club would be doing later on.

Therefore, to see someone who could actually still have some sort of relevance to the story in Damian McGinty’s Rory Flanagan actually gone from the show (or at least the first half of season 4) is rather surprising. McGinty was popular as one of the two winners of “The Glee Project” among fans, and he also had a crooner voice that was distinct and stood out among more of the pop-oriented vocalists surrounding him in New Directions. Considering that so many people are graduating, there’s no question that the group needs bodies, and he is one that had a bit of a built-in story when it came to Sugar and Brittany. While the show did potentially write him out by saying that his visa was not granted to be in America for another year, it was assumed that he was lying in order to get a date out of Vanessa Lengies’ character.

So what’s the real reason why Damian is not coming back? It ultimately could be a number of things.

Negotiations – Last year, Chord Overstreet failed to get a new deal to return to season 3 after negotiations went south, and he claimed it was so that he could work on a music career. However, he later did sign on for the rest of the season — and based on what executive producer Brad Falchuk said at Comic-Con, the door is not necessarily closed on Damian coming back at some point, as well.

Writing – Is it possible that producers just didn’t know what to do with this Rory character anymore? Sure. Considering that they based a whole episode around his arrival in “Pot O’ Gold,” the hopes were obviously high that he could be a star for a long time. The problem was that “Glee” never really went anywhere with this Rory character following that, forcing him to be little more than an Irish stereotype who missed his family. It was actually interesting at times that the show got away with what they did without any criticism, especially since they have done such a great job creating characters from other minorities and nationalities and finding ways to break them out of the pre-established mold. We also don’t really understand why Damian’s character had to be Irish to begin with, since you could have delayed the start of his arc, paired him with a voice coach, and had him work more on an American accent so he didn’t just have to play an exchange student who Brittany confused for a Leprechaun.

We don’t know what was happening on the set, so it’s unfair for us to judge what was happening behind the scenes. All we know is that for a character that was as hyped as Rory was, he was marginalized more than anyone on “Glee.” Even Alex Newell — who was only in two episodes — had more depth to his character as Unique. While Damian can tout that he appeared in more than the seven episodes stipulated in winning “The Glee Project,” it really felt like he only had an established part in about three of them.

Filling roles – It may not be something as dramatic as “Glee” never really giving Damian much of a chance with a weak character — they may just have other characters in mind to be in New Directions next year. Let’s say that they have six guys and six girls — if the men consist of Sam, Blaine, Artie, and Joe, that covers a solid two-thirds of the group. Then, remember that the show has already been casting Puck’s younger brother. That’s five. There is only one spot open, and it’s feasible that Newell’s Unique could transfer over, or that there is a consistent from this season of “The Glee Project” who would fill that part. We also can’t forget about Grant Gustin, who was in talks at one point to be a series regular before that evaporated into thin air.

At the end of the day, Ryan Murphy may have looked at the cast and said that while he likes Damian, he feels like he has more to write for with the other people on his slate.

At the end of the day, we don’t think that this was a decision that was planned for a long time. After all, why would Larsen reportedly say just a day before the panel that he and Damian were both coming back, only for it to later not be the case? We’re guessing that there was either some misinformation passed around, or he was misquoted. While you could say it was suspicious that Damian was not a mentor for “The Glee Project” season 2, he was present for some of the show’s live promotional events — a sign that producers obviously saw him as a success story.

Since Damian has yet to publicly address the talk of his exit, all we can do for now is speculate. We are honesty a little bit shocked and sad considering how much we rooted for him last summer, but at the same time we also felt as though Rory Flanagan was in trouble from the start based on how the writers created the role.

What’s your reaction to the sudden exit of Damian from “Glee?” We want to hear from you below! We also have some more scoop from season 4 over at this link.

Photo: Fox, Oxygen

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