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Galavant on TV, or, This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things


It feels like a travesty, every time this happens. Every time we manage to snatch an hour or two of the general public’s time and make them face a thing about musicals, or a musical itself, or both, and then we fuck it up. Because we get so few of these opportunities, and it seems like every failure just decreases our chances of increasing our chances, if you know what I mean.

As I’m guessing you can tell, I’m not sorry to say I don’t ascribe to the idea that like… we have to play nice. That we have to sit around and say only kind things because if we don’t support our own art form when it somehow sneaks it’s way into the ball, like Cinderella in a shabbier dress, then who will?

I think that idea is bullshit. Because I think bad musicals make musicals as a whole look bad. And I think we look like idiots with no taste who don’t know any better when we applaud bullshit. This is the genre that brought us Next to Normal! And The Book of Mormon! And Fun Home! Musicals can be smart and funny and touching and thoughtful. They can DO something. They can SAY something. They can be utterly filthy, and written entirely in the modern parlance — seriously, have you MET Alex Timbers? — and still be intelligent and good and tightly crafted.

And Galavant was none of those things. A cut-rate Men in Tights/Spamalot mashup, maybe three jokes in the entire hour landed. The only actors who looked like they understood what show they were in were the King and his huge lunk whose face I recognize but whose name I can’t even be arsed to go look up. Which is bad news if I can’t even care about the only good performances in the whole damn show. Plus, I swear there was only one song, re-written with forty different sets of lyrics, which, who do you think you are, Les Miz? (Newsflash: No one is Les Miz. Les Miz shouldn’t even be Les Miz.) And the words all felt like… like they were written by old men who were trying to sound young and cool. You know, as opposed to people who actually are young and cool. Sorry Glenn Slater.

And while we’re at it, I’d like to point out that while Galavant seems to think it’s very smart and TOTALLY subverting gender stereotypes, it used both the word “bitch” and the word “frigid” to insult female characters. And insinuated that being “a man” is like… only one very specific thing. And I know this show is set in the fucking dark ages, but it’s 2015 here in reality where this show is airing. And if you’re going to pretend to be smart and witty and say things just like the kids these days, then you look like a dick when you keep trading in shitty, outmoded gender roles.

Also. It didn’t make no sense? Like. I get, now, that we were getting the story in pieces. And that Galavant was being lied to by the Valencian Princess. But the way the story unfolded was convoluted and the truth wasn’t clear and neither were the lies and I’m still not sure what’s what and you guys I like to think of myself as a pretty savvy consumer of musicals and TV and story telling and if I can’t follow you at all you really are doing something wrong.

Ugh. You guys. It was just… I trusted Alan Menken! I thought we could do this! I KNOW there are smart funny people out there who write good shows. I believe in musical comedy. I don’t think The Book of Mormon is the last work of genius we’ll ever get to see. So why, why, why, when we finally get to the big dance, do we fuck it up like this?

Why can’t we find a way to make our own genre compelling?

And christ, what can we do to help? Besides, you know, mindlessly complimenting anyone who endeavors to put any musical thing on TV during prime time. Because I’m sorry. That’s not a thing I can do. And clearly, it doesn’t help anyway. We keep landing ourselves with this shit.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Max January 14, 2015, 12:04 am

    I blame old people.

  • Benjamin Doyle January 14, 2015, 7:14 pm

    I only just discovered your blog via a friend posting your article on Broadway’s sexism, but I love what I’ve read. Or, at the very least, I agree with it wholeheartedly.

    Beyond the issue of outmoded gender roles – I agree with everything you said; nothing further to contribute – I would add that I wish older people would stop trying to behave like younger people in their creative endeavors. Older people have plenty, philosophically and artistically, to contribute to the world, and they squander that gift by trying to bend their voices to sound like those of a generation they aren’t part of. I’m coming from the perspective of a composer, though, not so much a performer here. You need to write to your fortes.

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