We All Should Be Watching Schmigadoon!
Being a musical theatre fan means explaining why you love musicals more often than you’d think, but one of my favorite things in recent years has been Cecily Strong’s clear love of musicals being celebrated on Saturday Night Live. So now that she’s on Schmigadoon! and letting that love shine once again, the musical theatre fan in me is beyond happy.
When Mel (Cecily Strong) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) go to a couples retreat and get lost in the woods, they find themselves in Schmigadoon! The town, at least to Mel and Josh, feels like a city like Colonial Williamsburg where they dress up and perform for guests, but the reality is that they are stuck in a musical, and Josh very clearly hates every second of it. Mel, on the other hand, is like me ending up in a real-life musical (meaning she loves it).
The town is clearly set in some of the first musicals like Oklahoma! and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and what I love about it is that it pokes fun at them using the modern lens of Josh and Mel while still being an homage to them. As someone who typically hates classical musicals, the show is making me rethink my stance a bit.
The first two episodes, which dropped on Apple TV+ on July 16th, give us a look into this town and the struggle that Josh and Mel are facing. A leprechaun (played by Martin Short) appears to tell Mel and Josh that they can’t leave Schmigadoon until they find true love, forcing the couple to realize that their relationship isn’t “true love” to them. Luckily, Mel can go flirt with Danny Bailey (Aaron Tveit) and his high-waisted pants.
It’s hard to make a musical television show. We’ve often watched as they’ve gotten cheesy or refused to embrace the musical aspect of it. What I love about Schmigadoon! is that it calls out the rules of musicals, like when Danny Bailey sings an entire song about how he can’t be tamed by a woman, and when Mel asks him about it, he responds by not knowing what she’s talking about. Musicals force you to suspend your disbelief as an audience member, something we willingly do, but being a part of one without your knowledge? That’s a whole different ball game.
Much like the musicals we know and love, Schmigadoon! is filled with fun songs and dance numbers and even has an overdramatic love square for us all to fight about. Personally, I think it’s unfair to have a woman choose between Keegan-Michael Key and Aaron Tveit. Why not both?
Schmigadoon! is funny, quirky, and had me saying, “I’m just so happy for Cecily Strong,” out loud multiple times. And who doesn’t want to see Alan Cumming in a top hat with a fun mustache?
(image: Apple TV+)
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