At the core of every great television show is one epic question. We needed to know who shot J.R., what really happened to Laura Palmer and whether Jack Bauer would ever be able to escape that Chinese prison. Now, inquiring Glee fans want to know: How long can Terri Schuester really fake a pregnancy?
Glee's Jessalyn Gilsig feels your pain. "Poor Terri," she sighs. "There's going to be kind of like a reckoning—and it's coming fast and it's going to come hard and it's going to be really sad."
In a show beloved for its feel-good singing and dancing, Gilsig brings drama as the unappreciative and scheming wife of glee club adviser Will. Once the "Jack and Diane" of high school, the couple's marriage is headed the way of Springsteen's "Glory Days." After false pregnancy test results, Terri continues her charade in a desperate attempt to keep her marriage together—and Will's attention away from guidance counselor Emma.
"She so identifies with high school when she was her very best that she really hasn't evolved out of that place. I mean, her hair. ... She has like 1988 cheerleader hair!" she says. "Terri just needs to step into the now and let go of the past. Maybe she should be an Oprah makeover."
A popular recurring guest star on Nip/Tuck, Friday Night Lights and Heroes, Gilsig is thrilled to have finally found a home in one of the most diverse, inclusive and talented casts on television.
She's even happier the show has been embraced by fans of all ages. "The older demographic feels the show's for them, and the younger demographic feels the show's created just for them," she says. "I've never experienced that before."
Gilsig credits the genius of show creator Ryan Murphy, with whom she worked on Nip/Tuck. "There's something that Ryan does that I find very disarming, which is he creates these fantastic scenarios. They're very fun and they're very humorous and creative, but everything he does has an element of truth to it," she says. "There's some kind of emotion behind every character that sort of contradicts the thing about them that makes them disposable."
Take Terri. In many ways, Gilsig says she's a sacrificial character. "In order for us not to hate Will and the fact that he's flirting with a woman at school every day, there has to be these very real and tangible problems at home," she says.
Still, at Terri's core is a crippling lack of self-confidence. "As we go on, we realize that her motivation is this incredibly deep insecurity that if [Will] really knew who she was, then he wouldn't stay with her," she says. "I feel like that's very human."
With 13 episodes in the can, Gilsig and the rest of the cast will start production on the season's final nine in January. Gilsig says she isn't sure what's in store for Terri, but she hopes to make her way back to McKinley High. "I may not be the school nurse, but I bet I could teach home ec or something," she jokes. "To interact with the kids, I don't get to do that much. It's so delightful, and they're just amazing."
Also looming on the horizon? Terri's song. "I know that my song is coming. I haven't sung it yet, but I'm sure it's coming. And the more I watch the show, the less confident I become!" she says. "Let me put it this way: I'm not a ringer. It's not like they're like, 'Let's hold back Jessalyn until sweeps.'"
Gilsig says she likes Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" for Terri—but she has another number in mind. "I like the Pussycat Dolls' 'Don't Cha.' I kind of want to sing that to Will one day when he's off with his silly redhead," she says. "I want to start a Team Terri. It seems like Emma has a pretty big team."