High Notes, Low Notes: Ryan Murphy's Prolific Career

A look back at Ryan Murphy’s TV shows and films, set to the music of Glee.

“Make ’Em Laugh”

September 1999

Popular, the first TV show by Murphy, debuts on the WB Network and lasts two seasons—long enough to become a cult comedy hit.

“Push It”

July 2003

Murphy creates a drama about Miami plastic surgeons called Nip/Tuck, which draws both controversy and big ratings for its scalpel-sharp edge.

“Walking on Sunshine”

May 2009

America meets the kids at McKinley High on Glee, which becomes an instant pop-culture phenomenon. The Fox show is loosely based on Murphy’s experience at Warren Central
High School.

“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”

August 2010

Murphy makes his movie-directing debut with a big Hollywood project, Eat Pray Love, starring Julia Roberts as a new divorcee.

» READ Tom Chiarella’s profile of the Indy native and prolific TV creator here.

“Hate on Me”


Murphy feuds with several famous musicians, including Kings of Leon. When the band declines to grant Glee rights to “Use Somebody,” Murphy responds with a public “F— you.” Rumors also begin to swirl in the tabloids that Murphy is a tyrant who works his young cast for unreasonably long hours and gives them a skimpy cut of the royalties.

“Teenage Dream”

June 2011

Murphy unveils The Glee Project, a TV talent competition entering its second season this month, in which kids vie for guest spots alongside Rachel, Finn, Mercedes, and company.

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

Fall 2011

In its third season, Glee’s ratings dip 32 percent.

“Dog Days Are Over”

October 2011

With Glee fading in the Nielsen ratings, a new Murphy series, American Horror Story, garners serious buzz from its creepy debut episode, with star Jessica Lange going on to win a Golden Globe for her role.


“Don’t Stop Believin’”

September 2012

Murphy steps back from the TV musical that made him famous in order to focus on two new projects. The New Normal, about a gay couple and the woman who becomes a surrogate for them, will give Murphy four shows on TV at once when it airs (NBC has picked it up). And his big-screen musical One Hit Wonders—starring Beyonce, Cameron Diaz, and Gwyneth Paltrow, among others—promises to be a blockbuster when it hits theaters.

Images via the TV programs’ Facebook pages

This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue.

» BONUS: “Ryan Murphy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”our profile on the Indy-born TV creator.