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Inside ‘The Glee Project’: A wild, traumatizing competition show guided by Ryan Murphy’s impulses

Ryan Murphy makes hits. The Emmy-winning showrunner and director is behind a lot of the 2010s television landscape, including “American Horror Story,” “Pose,” “Scream Queens,” and — of course — “Glee.” He’s known for playing favorites with actors, to the point where fans joke about them living in a “Ryan Murphy universe.”

But on “The Glee Project,” it was Murphy’s world, and contestants were, quite literally, living in it. In 2010, “Glee” had taken over prime time. Its first-season finale nabbed 11 million viewers, making it the highest-rated final episode for any new show that year. The cast had 25 singles chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2009, the most by any artist since The Beatles. Online fan accounts were dedicated to sharing photos of the cast daily.Meanwhile, the team behind “Glee” was looking for another way to cash in on the craze. The result was “The Glee Project,” a reality show dedicated to finding the series’ next star. The only criteria to win? Be inspiring to Murphy.

“What’s interesting about the show is this was about somebody’s creative vision,” Shauna Minoprio, the executive producer of “The Glee Project,” told Insider. “It wasn’t about who’s the best singer or dancer. It was about who Ryan Murphy was the most excited to write a character for.”

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