Picture Supply: YouTube person Common Footage
The trailer for the film adaptation of the musical Pricey Evan Hansen is formally right here, and though it may be Broadway blasphemy to say it, I am extremely unimpressed. I’ve struggled with my emotions about this present since its 2017 Broadway debut, and the trailer for the film confirmed my worst fears: the movie will solely additional improve the worst components of the stage present, fairly than addressing or coping with them. Truthful warning: we’re heading into spoiler territory right here, so when you’re not accustomed to the plot, learn on at your personal danger!
Pricey Evan Hansen has garnered a popularity – largely resulting from its savvy advertising and marketing – because the “teenage psychological well being present.” It is the story of Evan, an adolescent who’s explicitly combating psychological sickness, who, by a collection of accidents, is assumed to be the key finest buddy of a classmate, Connor, who dies by suicide. The mere presence of points like despair, nervousness, and suicide, nonetheless, is not sufficient to make this story into good psychological well being rep; they need to be addressed sensitively and thoughtfully, and that is the place Pricey Evan Hansen fails at each single flip.
Psychological sickness is a plot system for many of the story, plain and easy. Evan’s nervousness and despair are used as excuses for the manipulative, mendacity, downright egocentric habits he displays all through. He has quite a few probabilities to set the document straight however chooses to not as a result of he simply cannot resist the eye – from his crush (who occurs to be Connor’s sister), from his classmates, from Connor’s mother and father (whom he places on a pedestal above his personal desperately making an attempt single mother), and, ultimately, from an enormous social media community. By the top of the story, he barely even faces penalties for his actions. This isn’t “psychological well being rep”; that is actively enjoying into stereotypes that folks with psychological well being struggles merely aren’t liable for behaving badly or that they’ll, inevitably, behave badly. Each are horrible; each are damaging.
Very similar to Netflix’s 13 Causes Why, it ticks off packing containers of hot-button points whereas ignoring the perfect practices for depicting these points with out inflicting additional hurt.
Maybe essentially the most harmful stereotype this story pushes ahead is its views on psychological well being remedy. Within the stage present, Evan complains about having to do his therapist-assigned “homework” and, much more distressing, has an outburst the place he yells at his mom about not eager to take medicine as a result of he would not need it to “change” him. As the sentiments of a scared, lonely teenage boy, these complaints are in character; the issue is that the present itself chooses to not push again on Evan’s concepts or present audiences that he is mistaken. As an alternative, it leans into these stereotypes of remedy and drugs because the “simple” manner out or one thing that may “change” an individual. For a present that intentionally courts a big fan base of younger individuals who could also be combating comparable points, it is breathtakingly irresponsible to romanticize these inaccurate stereotypes. Very similar to Netflix’s 13 Causes Why, it ticks off packing containers of hot-button points whereas ignoring the perfect practices for depicting these points with out inflicting additional hurt.
All of this would not be fairly as irritating if not for the advertising and marketing the present (and now the film) has leaned into. If it had been positioned as an antihero story, a darker exploration of the intuition to insert one’s self into close by tragedies, then we might be having a very totally different dialog. As an alternative, it is chosen to characterize itself as an uplifting, weepy coming-of-age story, helped alongside by extremely catchy, pop-tinged, anthemic songs. The advertising and marketing focuses on one of many breakout songs, “You Will Be Discovered,” an uplifting anthem about getting again up once more and realizing you are not alone.
Here is the issue: within the context of the story, that track is likely one of the largest lies. It is based mostly on a narrative Evan makes up as a backstory for his faked friendship with Connor, and it is sung as a tribute to Connor. However the factor is, there is a huge disconnect between what the lyrics say (you will be discovered, we’re not alone) and what really occurs within the story (Connor died alone and isn’t even being seen as his actual self after his demise, nor did he discover Evan after Evan’s failed suicide try). With none curiosity in interrogating this disconnect, we’re as an alternative left with one thing that feels hole and that is solely uplifting superficially. The extremely efficient, emotional, and well-crafted music serves to obscure these uglier components of the plot, which, as a musical-theater fan, disappoints me, too: it is irritating that this big-name illustration of musicals is displaying how the artwork type can manipulate, fairly than the way it can specific and develop and dig deep.
Maybe I am fallacious concerning the trailer and the film as a complete. Maybe it actually will deal with these points from the stage model and inform a extra advanced story that does not take the simple manner out. I’d be thrilled if that is the case. Because it stands now, although, I am only a Broadway fan disillusioned that this, of all issues, is the story that common audiences will see as a illustration of what trendy musical theater has to supply.