A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Schmigadoon! is a comedy about a couple who accidentally stumbles into a fantasy land where everyone acts like they're in a retro stage musical. The amount of iffy content is light: sexuality mostly takes place off-screen, though there's kissing and lots of talk of romance and "true love." Characters have wine with dinner; no one acts drunk. Cursing is confined to "ass," "hell," and stand-ins like "freaking." Violence is almost not present, but there are jokes such as a song in which a man threatens gun violence if anyone "touches" his daughters. Many characters begin as stereotypes but reveal hidden depths over the course of the show; retro conventions such as sexism and racism are satirized and shown to be ridiculous. The cast is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, age, and body type.
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What's the story?
When Melissa (Cecily Strong) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) decide to renew their flagging relationship with a romantic weekend in the woods, they accidentally stumble on SCHMIGADOON! a magical fairyland where everyone acts (and sings!) as if they're living in a classic musical. In the town of Schmigadoon (population 137), the songs are ever flowing, and the characters can be summed up in a few playbill-friendly lines, like Mayor Menlove (Alan Cumming), whose ebullient public persona hides his closeted, conflicted side, and disapproving preacher's wife Mildred Layton (Kristen Chenoweth), who's always looking for an opportunity to dispense some stern judgment. But though Josh and Melissa try to escape almost immediately, they're held back by a magical premise: Only true love will set them free. And it's not looking likely that they can find it with each other.
Is it any good?
Bright, colorful, and lots of surreal fun, this series spoofing creaky old musicals both satirizes the conventions of the genre and gives us a central story to hold onto. Josh and Melissa have a classic meet-cute in the break room of the hospital where they both work, but in typical cinematic fashion, the course of their love doesn't run smoothly. The schism between them is made painfully clear when they land in magical Schmigadoon, where Melissa is charmed by the singing, dancing locals -- she thinks it's a show, like Williamsburg, for tourists, and when she attempts to join in on a verse, finds she knows exactly what to sing -- while Josh is decidedly not so. And so, dejected to find that the love between them isn't true enough to earn them a release from Schmigadoon, the two are forced to join in on local antics, and the audience gets to spend more time in this colorful little town.
For those who appreciate life lessons shared through song, flouncy dresses, and rampant harmonizing, Schmigadoon! sure is a treat, and musical fans will recognize conceits and musical numbers lifted directly from such favorites as The Sound of Music (whose anthem "Do-Re-Mi" is turned into a hysterical number in which Melissa explains the details of human reproduction in clinical terms) and vintage stage shows like Oklahoma! and Carousel. With old stage pros like Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming on board, the Schmigadoon! cast is a delight (who knew Strong could sing?), and there are plenty of sharp jabs at the sexism, racism, and other -isms of the musical theater genre. Even for viewers who don't really care for hoary old song-and-dance numbers, there's plenty to enjoy, and the short episodes pass like a candy-colored dream. Musical fans, though, will be in raptures over the knowing yet affectionate mockery, and are likely to crown this a new TV fave to stand in the company of modern cult classics like Pushing Daisies and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Enjoy, stage nerds! This one is for you.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what type of show this is. Is it a musical? A fantasy? A romance? Can you think of other TV shows and movies that mix genres to create a unique style?
Does Schmigadoon! satirize specific musicals as well as musical theater conventions? Do viewers need to be familiar with particular musicals in order to enjoy this show? Does familiarity with the source material that's being satirized make a satire more or less enjoyable?
Many of the cast members of Schmigadoon! are known for appearing in stage shows; others are better known for funny TV shows. Which type of cast member is better at putting across the show's music? Or the comedy? Does the humor of Schmigadoon! make its music less appealing?
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