It’s sexist, reductive and teens are obsessed

If you aren’t already familiar with Be More Chill, a Broadway musical that opened Sunday, it’s likely a teen in your life can clue you in.

The show, adapted from the YA novel by Ned Vizzini about an anxious high schooler who takes a pill to become popular, originally premiered in New Jersey in 2015, and, despite lukewarm reviews, slowly found a cult following, with a cast album that’s been streamed tens of millions of times. Needless to say, the show has serious buzz, with The Wall Street Journal noting, “It’s gonna hit big,” and a movie adaptation already in the works. 

Unfortunately, for all the excitement of another musical aimed at young people, this one lacks the emotional depth of Dear Evan Hansen, the powerful music of Spring Awakening, or the mostly-sharp satire of Mean Girls (though it does have a very similar number about teens on Halloween!). 

Meet Jeremy (Dear Evan Hansen‘s Will Roland), a nerdy high school outsider who just wants to be popular and get his manic pixie dream theater girl of a crush Christine (an over-the-top Stephanie Hsu) to kiss him. His first idea is to join the activity she likes, but the opening number, “More Than Survive,” finds him singing, “It’s a sign up sheet for the after-school play! It’s a sign up sheet for getting called gay!” 

Um, what year is this? 

It’s grating, and makes it difficult to connect with or care about any of the characters

After a run-in with cool bully Rich (Spring Awakening‘s Gerard Canonico), Jeremy is told he can be popular, too, he just needs to ingest a supercomputer in pill-sized form called “The Squip” (a funny, Keanu Reeves-esque Jason Tam) to instruct him on his every move. Naturally, things go south fast.

Directed by Stephen Brackett, the show is a technicolor, high energy swirl of buzzwords and ideas that a corporate boardroom thought might appeal to Today’s Youth but miss the mark. An extremely forgettable pop-rock score by Joe Iconis? Check. Some jokes and songs about our smartphone addictions/the dangers of tech? Yup. A tossed-in Ruth Bader Ginsberg name-check and a random ending revelation about a character being bi? You’d better believe it. 

Some of Be More Chill works. It’s a fun and rare idea for a musical to have a sci-fi twist, and as Jeremy’s sidekick best friend Michael, George Salazar gives a funny and empathetic performance; his second act ballad “Michael in the Bathroom” is an emotional and musical high point. But Michael is an exception: a majority of the students appear to be cartoons all dialed up to 12 for the entire run time, with no tongue-in-cheek wink to the audience letting on it’s satire. The choice is grating, and makes it difficult to connect with or care about any of the characters. 

More unfortunately, two of those students are dim, pretty popular girls who appear to exist solely for the audience to laugh at. The story wouldn’t change at all if these young women (portrayed by Katlyn Carlson and Lauren Marcus) were smart, or mean, or athletic, or just about any other adjective other than the oldest high school stereotypes about teenage girls in the book. 

It’s more than a bit disappointing that a show that centers its messaging on being yourself spends a not-insignificant portion of its run time reminding people that Jeremy is Unique and Good because he is an anxious “loser, geek, whatever” while these young women are not worthy of the same compassionate consideration. It’s far from the first show to do this, obviously, but it sucks that this holdover from another era remains. 

Maybe I should just be more chill? Perhaps. But the recent surge of musicals aimed at the teen experience — the aforementioned Dear Evan Hansen, this season’s heartfelt The Prom — show the ways that coming-of-age tales can twist and turn to meet the moment they are arriving in. 

But Be More Chill doesn’t grapple with the issues right in front of its face. It wants to say something profound about the pressures of being a young person in 2019, but instead settles for a stereotype-filled retrograde story straight out of the ’80s. 

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f86032%252ffc781c92 fd77 4b71 ae8f 314bf4cb8dd9.jpg%252foriginal.jpg?signature=hblgn6qus9ecblgnqficurqowps=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Source

more recommended stories

  • In the end, the Azor Ahai prophecy did come true on ‘Game of Thrones’

    One of the biggest twists of.

  • Watch this over-the-top dog become a tourist attraction

    Some dogs really know how to.

  • Race horse loses rider but wins our hearts by racing without him

    We are all Bodexpress, making it.

  • A Times Square billboard caught fire, and the tweets were lit

    So hot right now.Image: Stephen J..

  • Google Pixel 3a XL, Sony wireless noise cancelling headphones, and more for May 18

    Starting your gift hunt early? is.

  • Grumpy Cat, the viral internet sensation, is dead at 7

    Everyone’s favorite meme cat is no.

  • Snapchat’s ‘gender-swap’ filter exposes the internet’s casual transphobia

    It is a truth universally acknowledged.

  • BTS take on The Beatles in a special performance for ‘The Late Show’

    K-pop superstars BTS have long been.

  • ‘Black Mirror’ drops super creepy Season 5 trailer

    It’s here, people. Black Mirror has.

  • Twitter wants to fix its relationship with developers. Again.

    Twitter is looking for yet another.

  • Hands-on with Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 foldable Windows PC

    Windows PCs are about to get.

  • Actors lampoon Constance Wu’s reaction to her show being renewed

    Constance Wu’s reaction to ‘Fresh Off.

  • 15 epic deals on bedsheets this weekend

    Just to let you know, if.

  • NASA posts image of an ancient galaxy crowd in the deep, deep cosmos

    Billions of stars in deep space.Image:.

  • Elon Musk will go to trial for calling British rescue diver a ‘pedo guy’

    Tesla CEO Elon Musk will find.

  • The Third’ is out for Switch and still so bonkers: Review

    Saints Row: The Third lives again..

  • James Cameron responds to ‘Avengers: Endgame’ beating ‘Titanic’ record

    Cameron has sent the Marvel team.

  • Dr. Evil leads the Trump transition team — Altered Movie Scenes

    This iconic scene from “Austin Powers”.

  • Waymo’s self-driving cars will soon be on the Lyft app

    Waymo and Lyft are partnering up.

  • How celebrities did ‘Camp’ on the pink carpet

    Lady Gaga stole the show four.

  • EU to launch inquiry into Apple over Spotify’s complaint, report says

    Disclosure Every product here is independently.

  • NASA fits 265,000 galaxies into a single ‘Hubble Legacy Field’ image

    The image, called the Hubble Legacy.

  • Kid’s fake passport assignment leads to an instantly iconic one-liner

    Once more for the people in.

  • The immense joy of watching Tiny Shrek sprint through an obstacle course

    Look, it’s been a long week,.

  • Tesla cars are now better at keeping you in your lane

    Tesla has added two new safety.

  • Spotify and Pandora to test voice-activated ads

    Why tap on an ad when.

  • Comedian gives her family brilliant informational pamphlets before going on a date

    Anticipating her family’s inevitable questions, Mary.

  • The new ‘Child’s Play’ poster is dark stuff for ‘Toy Story’ fans

    The world’s creepiest evil doll is.

  • The meaning behind Arya’s Valyrian dagger, explained

    As unexpected as the big twist.

  • Marriott is launching an Airbnb competitor called Homes & Villas

    The hospitality group Marriott International is.

  • An actual real-life hero ran the London Marathon dressed as Big Ben

    This might be the best marathon.

  • Apple shuts down screen limiting apps, but its own version is flawed

    Controlling kids’ time spent on iPhones.