Monday, April 22, 2013

Legally Bugging the Hell Outta Me

I was in law school when the Reese Witherspoon film Legally Blonde was originally released. I saw it in the movie theater twice and owned it from the moment it was released on DVD. I LOVED it. I mean, really, really loved it. I GOT it. I thought that all campy silliness aside, it did a fairly good job of portraying a sorority--especially one that seemed to be pretty closely based on mine, what with the pink and green and the letters being but a quarter turn from actually BEING mine. Several years later, I went to see the Broadway show with my best friend/sorority sister who turned to me during the opening number and said, "We have found it. You have to be in this show." And now, I am. Last weekend and this coming weekend, I am singing and dancing my way through Delta Nu and law school.

And here's the thing...Repeated (and I DO mean repeated) exposure to the show has made me...irritated. Beyond the fact that "I've got a chip on my shoulder, and it's big as a boulder" is one of the most dreadful lyrics ever written, there are truly some things about the show that just grate on my last nerve.

Here's my 10:

1. Omigod, you guys! Stereotype much?--I adore, simply adore the opening number. It nails so many things about a sorority. The excitement. The silliness. The can delighting song. It is spot on. However, from there, the sorority girls degenerate quickly into the most awful stereotypes of sorority girls imaginable. Not that they're flighty and silly--because if I'm being honest, that's a whole lot true. No...what bugs me is that they come across as dumb as a box of hair. Margot, Serena and Pilar are written as not just silly and flighty, but as completely vapid. And really, really stupid. And believe's not like I didn't know girls in my own sorority who were not exactly breaking the bank with their GPA. But as a whole it's just a really lame stereotype. In almost every incidence, Greek women have a higher average GPA than both the all-campus and all-women GPA. I'm just saying.

2. Slut-Shaming 101--This is really a personal pet peeve, but Serena calls Margot a slut. The Greek chorus calls Vivienne a whore. Vivienne refers to Elle's Bunny outfit as her "skank" costume. Ew. I really dislike it. When anyone does it. But especially in a musical that lots of young girls go to see.

3. Elle is an IDIOT--I get that in order to make the point of the show, Elle has to come in and not get the point of law school and all it entails. Which I kind of understand. To some extent, I wasn't completely up on what law school was really going to be like when I started. But I was together enough, having read the packet the law school sent me (which I'm assuming Elle did. She showed up on time to the right class.) which told me what to have prepared for the first day. Then, we know from dialogue that not only does Elle get booted on the first day, but per Warner, EVERY day. I'll allow the first day in Callahan's class...but after that? Then she's just a full-out fool.

4. Speaking of Real Law School--When Warner dumps Elle and she makes the decision to go to Harvard, it's spring semester of her senior year. In the movie, it's much more ambiguous as to exactly when he dumps her. But in the musical, Elle is getting ready to take her LSATs in the spring. It is in the lyrics in as many words. In real life? Not so much. You take the LSATs in your JUNIOR spring, senior fall at the latest. If you're taking it in the spring of your senior year? You've missed the application deadline for law school.

5. What is it that Callahan teaches?--The answer, in short, is CRIMINAL law. Only the case where Elle finally "gets it" just sounds like Family Law. It's about a sperm donor's rights as a father. They throw in the stuff about it not being stalking because he's the father. Which would be a really dumb case because sperm donors don't have rights as a parent, so it's not an affirmative defense to stalking. But really the whole case is a set up to allow her to say "Masturbatory Emissions."

6. Math is Hard--At the beginning of the song "Ireland", Paulette states that her mother was 3/4 Italian and she never knew her father. But then she says her grandfather was from Ireland. Which, I GUESS could be possible if her grandfather's parents were Italian and Irish but both living in Ireland. But she has an Italian last name? So if she didn't have a father then she'd have her mother's last name. Which, again, is Italian. And would have come from her grandfather. Who, according to lyrics? WAS FROM IRELAND. I mean, I can make it work, but I have to go through hoops. As another cast member pointed out, there are a lot of lyrics in this show that make you think that while writing them, they just went, "Ah, screw one will EVER NOTICE. Plus, this RHYMES!"

7. Shit, Elle...GET IT TOGETHER!--Okay, so in the movie, when Vivienne tricks Elle into showing up in costume to the party, Elle leaves and makes tracks to the bookstore where she buys study guides and a laptop and proceeds to become a law school superstar. On her own. In the musical, it takes Emmett dragging her kicking and screaming to do it. Which sets up another pet peeve I have about it which is directly related. When Emmett's making her study, he insists that she stay at Harvard over Christmas Break. school is like regular school. She would have finished her first semester. What the hell is he making her study?

8. What the blue hell did VIVIENNE do to her?--So, obviously Vivienne is kind of nasty to Elle from the beginning. But Elle's making it her business to, from the moment she arrives on campus, to try to get all over Warner. Warner dumped Elle AT LEAST six months before law school starts. It's not like Vivienne busted up the relationship. It's entirely possible that Vivienne didn't know Elle even existed. And yet Elle blames VIVIENNE not Warner. One more reason Elle is much more irritating in the musical.

9. And since we're speaking of Warner--How in the name of all that exists does WARNER get the internship with Callahan? I get Vivienne and Enid--they are hardcore. And I get Elle. If nothing else, it's to facilitate hitting on her. But Warner? He's bland, doesn't come across as exceptionally clever, and is the opposite of a leader (Viv is totally the boss of him). Of the characters we know something about, Aaron Schultz (Fulbright and Rhodes scholar) or Whitney (her dad's Speaker of the House) seem more apt choices from either an intellectual or connections standpoint.

10. Actually, Callahan's FULL of Stupid Decisions--So he teaches Family Law in his Criminal Law classes and he hires dregs like Warner, but one would think that a man who's running a BILLION dollar law firm, would be able to put together a better team for a defense in a headline-makng murder trial than four 1Ls, a first year attorney who he hasn't even made an associate, and himself.

Oh, in case you were wondering? You have a lot of time to think about things in the ensemble.

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