Broadway adaptation of ‘The Prom’ dazzlingly touches on varied experiences of LGBTQ+ community



The new Netflix adaptation of “The Prom” is a witty lighthearted film that brings Broadway to your TV screen.

Meena Lee, Content Manager

In New York City, two Broadway stars, Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden), sit at a bar, dejected after terrible reviews close their show on opening night. In a small conservative town in Indiana, prom was just cancelled after high school girl Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellmen) expressed wanting to bring her girlfriend. The two vastly different worlds collide when the Broadway stars, looking to boost their public image, rush to support Emma and stir things up in Indiana.

“The Prom,” a Netflix adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name, is overall a lighthearted production that puts forth a strong message for acceptance and touches on the varied experiences of LGBTQ+ identities. Though unrealistic at times, the movie can still be enjoyed for its colorful performances and thoughtful representation.

Directed by Ryan Murphy, the movie embodies much of that same lighthearted and fun energy found in “Glee,” which Murphy produced, “High School Musical” or even “Mamma Mia!” The transitions into its musical performances feel out of place at times, but once the numbers begin, the songs are entertaining and surprisingly catchy.

The show’s musical numbers use witty criticism to attack homophobia through songs like “The Acceptance Song” or “Love Thy Neighbor.” Of course, no one’s views would change over the course of a five-minute flash mob, but I did find myself laughing at the quips against bigotry and overall flair of the performances.

Considering its fast-moving plot, the movie does succeed in slowing down to look at each character’s background. It’s in these moments where the movie explores many of the queer characters’ nuanced and unique experiences. We see Emma as the only out lesbian in her conservative high school and her girlfriend Alyssa Greene (Ariana DeBose), who is still closeted and has a strained relationship with her mother (Kerry Washington), who leads the parent group that shut down the prom.

Emma’s prom experience brings up prom memories for Barry, who is gay, as he recalls his own time in high school and revisits his estranged relationship with his parents. However, James Corden’s largely stereotypical portrayal of his character has been met with backlash because unlike the two romantic leads, Corden identifies as straight.

Though the movie certainly over-simplifies real experiences of people in the LGBTQ+ community, it manages to have heartfelt messages about a variety of poignant and relevant issues, and should be enjoyed as the teeny-bopper movie that it is. At the end of this undoubtedly stressful year, “The Prom” is the feel-good movie with heart, comedy and song that we all need.