The Prom | Chicago Reader
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The Prom

The Prom, a Ryan Murphy adaptation of the 2018 Broadway musical by the same name, follows four fictional Broadway performers—two narcissistic has-beens (Meryl Streep and James Corden), a serial chorus girl (Nicole Kidman), and an irksome Juilliard graduate (Andrew Rannells)—in desperate need of some positive press. The group searches for a cause to back, a way to improve their public image, and they stumble upon the story of Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman), a gay highschooler in rural Indiana who is facing public backlash at wanting to bring a girl as her date to the prom. While the cinematography, production value, and almost unnecessarily-all-star cast make The Prom an OK film to watch—the musical it’s based on has no legs to stand on, so the project never had a shot at being anything more than mediocre. Like so many other LGBTQ+ stories that go mainstream, The Prom was written by two white men (only one of them gay), resulting in a whitewashed, appalingly trauma-reductive, and predictable story surrounding pretty, feminine-presenting lesbians, unsupported by generic and forgetful Broadway melodies that bleed into one another. The writers allow the washed-up Broadway saviors to hog the screen time, rather than fleshing out Emma and her girlfriend, so everyone is two-dimensional, diminishing any hope of nuance and audience investment (especially in Pellman, who smiles literally the entire movie for some reason?). As a queer person and a lover of musicals, I wanted desperately to love it, but The Prom brought me little but frustration, and between this and suffering through Happiest Season, the long hunt for satisfying queer media continues.

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