The Theater Kid Trope and How Glee’s Rachel Made it Toxic

There are few characters who’ve become as divisive in recent years as Rachel Berry, Glee’s high-strung protagonist with a voice of gold and a fiery passion for musical theatre. The particular high-school trope she embodies is that of the theatre kid: a zealous, type-A musical theatre devotee and fixture at the bottom of the high-school social ladder. Meanwhile the theater kid community on TikTok is growing as a supportive, inclusive space for people to share their creativity and find others with a shared passion for this space. So where does that leave the legacy of Glee and other cutthroat wanna-be divas before Rachel?