Big takeaway: Peter Pan is a weird ass show. If people came into the NBC musical broadcast without having a background in the story, they would deem it the stuff of nightmares. Mostly the nightmares of people who are against problematic gender norms, pedophilia, kidnapping, and weird sexual relationships. Considering that these live musicals are chosen to appeal to families – i.e. children – I’m sure that this production was indeed the first exposure to Pan for a big portion of the audience. This realization isn’t so much sad as f-ing nuts. Can you imagine seeing this broadcast without having a foundation in the story to protect your soul? Nightmares.
One of the boys wears a top hat. All the time. Even at bedtime. Even while flying. The other boy, no doubt scarred by his emotionally unavailable father, can’t think of any happy thoughts except for candy, setting him up for serious dental problems later in life, if not the ‘betus itself.
These three Darling people are tended to by Nana, a big fluffy dog who is smart enough to sense danger and protect her human siblings. Whyyy is the musical not about Nana? One of life’s unanswered questions. That dog is wicked smaht.
Peter Pan and his twinkling ball of light, which we are supposed to accept as a fairy even though we’ve seen full-bodied fairies like Stanley Tucci in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and all over New York, teach dear old aunt Wendy and the two boys how to fly, or really how to jerk around panicked and gracelessly when hoisted by very visible wires. Seeing the wires doesn’t bother me as much as everyone’s inability to fly without appearing to have constipation-induced seizures. Why are they so awkward? Did anyone teach them how to do the flying bits? Did they even have a chance to practice flying around before the live show? It doesn’t seem like it. They should have just done all CGI flying if it was going to be this bad.
In very little time at all, thanks to dear old Aunt Wendy’s breathlessness and fluttery eyes, we realize that this is actually a love story between Peter and Wendy, making J. M. Barrie’s tale perhaps the first lesbian fairy tale. But why does Peter, ostensibly a 25-year-old girl, need a 28-year-old girl to tuck her and her male followers in at night? It’s very creepy. But the story is quite progressive: Not only are Peter and Wendy lesbian lovers, but they are in an interspecies love triangle with a jealous ball of light. Wow. Much progress.
So the littlest boy, Michael, starts out as adorable before gradually getting more and more annoying. During the adorable phase, he grabs his teddy bear before flying off to Neverland. That is cute. What’s not cute is what would actually happen to the humans if they flew unprotected by spacesuits between freaking realms. Skin melting and stuff. That might be more entertaining though. This shit be dull. Peter/Allison Williams seems too embarrassed to fully commit to the role as lead lesbian lover. Gotta get over that before the second show.
Commercial break: Cool, a Wal-mart commercial with Melissa Joan Hart and I’m guessing her actual family of husband and three boy children who are playing with a toy fairy. It’s cute until the husband person says “I’m pretending it’s a helicopter.” That’s a cool message to send to all young boys, Wal-Mart, that to be male you can’t play with pretty colored toys or fairies unless you pretend it’s something MACHINE and MANLY. Cool. Outdated gender roles are the coolest. This is a good place to share one of my favorite infographics:
Once Peter, his new lover, and the boys get to Neverland – an impressively technicolored set – we get to meet our Captain Hook. No, not Christian Borle (Smee and Mr. Darling), who actually won a TONY for playing Captain Hook (at least a variation), but Christopher Walken, that singular adjuster of all rhythms of language that we thought were okay to accept as unchanging. Christopher Walken is on many drugs here but none of the ones that give energy, so that doesn’t bode well for the next too many hours.
Side note, when did Christian Borle DOUBLE his arm size?
As we watch Christopher Walken stare at the cue cards next to the camera, we learn that pirates are these long-haired hot people who dance well. Why are people scared of pirates? They seem awesome. They probably have good tips for detangling hair after swimming in the ocean.
Although the story keeps telling us that we are supposed to be scared of Hook, a notorious pirate ship captain, it seems he’s really a Lower East Side drag queen with general malaise and a too-light shade of pancake makeup.
So distracted by Smee’s arms! I guess the camera does add 10 pounds, and it all goes to Christian Borle’s arms? Maybe he’s wearing fake arms?
The pirates’ carrying Hook on a sedan chair as his face betrays zero emotion is a metaphor for this show.
Christian Borle deserves a freaking Emmy for trying to breathe life into Walken. Seriously, he just blew into Walken’s arse. He literally tried to breathe life into him. He is not holding anything back. Gotta try everything.
Now we meet the Lost Boys. Given their costumes and homoerotic physicality, the Lost Boys are just Chilton drop-outs? Duke lacrosse players? Ah! Aside from giving us the progressive lesbian relationship, “Peter Pan” also tells important lessons about white male privilege. The whole Lost Boys aspect, it seems, is a precautionary tale about the current state of our society and its persistent, ignorant condoning of bad male behavior, continually excused as ‘just boys being boys’ or rewritten as a slam on irrelevant female behavior. These preppy prepschool boys in their striped rugby shirts and popped collars and colorful caps represent the Duke lacrosse players, the Steubenville football players, and all the other masses of men who are ‘lost’ because they don’t face necessary punishment and therefore never learn responsibility or proper ways to behave as respectable members of our society. So that’s what Peter Pan is about? Interesting. Is that why he’s played by a woman always? For feminism? Is that why they are singing this awful song about how Wendy will be their mother? “We have a mother at last we have a mother”, because their mothers are the only women they are able to recognize as deserving respect and the only ones who probably believe that they are decent at heart? I find the basic premise of rooting for the Lost Boys to defeat the Pirates as flawed. I want the pirates to win. These boys are trouble, if my hypothesis is correct. They will just inflict lots of pain and torture throughout their lives and get away with it. At least the pirates are honest about their intentions. Wow, Barrie was pretty prescient.
Moving on from sexism and misogyny to racism, within these enormous wedding bouquet trees, the Lost Boys are surrounded by the natives but they don’t know it. The natives (at least they are no longer calling them the Indians? I think?) literally have their feet on the Lost Boys’s asses but the Boys have no idea what’s going on. Is this a metaphor for American history, that the white Lost Boys can’t see the Indians right next to them? Or that they are blinded by their disregard of them?
Commercial break: F-ing A but “Into the Woods” looks AMAZING. I am so eager to see this movie instead of finish watching “Peter Pan” that I don’t think I can form full paragraphs for a while.
The Lost Boys KILL Wendy? What in the actual hell is this show? See, preppy prepschool white boys are TROUBLE TO WOMEN. And Tinkerbell is legit evil! Why is that ball of light not being extinguished? Why do people care if people don’t believe in her? She is EVIL.
Peter is actually singing about ‘Oh the pleasure she’ll bring to us’ about Wendy. This is so lesbians love story!
Omg MASS GROUP SHOWER SCENE this is vulgar. Why are all the Newsies in one small bathtub together? Do I have to rewatch Newsies to understand all the homoerotic subtext is that as well? Are all musicals this batshit? No.
“I Won’t Grow Up” really drives home my newly realized theory about this show being a scathing indictment of masculinity in modern society. These boys refuse to learn how to be better citizens! Refuse to mature and take responsibility! This show is deep. Neverland represents their mental state of everlasting “youth and joy and liberty”, their escape from being better members of actual society and living in a fantasy world of privilege and ignorance instead. Whoa.
Back to Peter and Wendy. They are going on a moonlight canoe ride on the lagoon. It’s pretty much the same setting as “Kiss The Girl” but without that amazing song. Or any song at all! Why can’t these two lovebirds have a beautiful duet on the water at this point? Nonetheless, this is pretty special. We don’t really get a lot of legit lesbian romance on television. There’s a lot of gay male relationships on TV, and thanks primarily to “How To Get Away With Murder” a lot of gay sex, but TV doesn’t give equal airtime to gay women. So this is nice.
Yet the story is making the common ignorant assumption that all women are jealous of each other over the menfolk or some shit like that. Why does every single female character need to be jealous of the others because they all love Peter? That look Wendy gave to Tiger Lily was a ‘bitch stay away’ if I ever saw one. And Even Older Aunt Wendy (who is ACTUALLY that English tart Lorraine Finster) lets her daughter run away with Peter? And they all wish that ALL the female descendants of Wendy will forever be taken away by Peter when they come of age? What is THAT creepy shit about! That’s a level of disgusting not even seen in Greek tragedies.
I’m focusing on the gay lovers and the Lost Boys’ metaphor because the rest of this is too dull to bother with. In the big climax sword fight between Hook and Pan, the pirates either fell asleep or sacrificed themselves to the sea witch to avoid having to watch any more. It was the slowest, most painfully uneventful sword fight OF ALL TIME. Who choreographed this? Kids do a better job playfighting with swords cut out of construction paper.
And as much as I love the Newsies, they are too old to be Lost Boys if the little Darling boys are meant to be their peers. They are actually old enough to be their fathers, and so the whole ‘Wendy be our mother!’ thing is just gross. That’s just gross.
I don’t have the energy to think any more about how dull this production was. I'm too disappointed in such a wasted opportunity. All I can say is thank god for Kelli O’Hara. And next year they better do "Hair". Something worth watching.