Schmigadoon! review: Apple TV+ miniseries is a lighthearted watch that honours and parodies musicals

Though bumpy at times, Schmigadoon! is a feel-good comedy and a hat-tip to musicals, worth a slow-Sunday watch.

Aarushi Agrawal July 16, 2021 08:05:20 IST
Schmigadoon! review: Apple TV+ miniseries is a lighthearted watch that honours and parodies musicals

Language: English

Part-musical parody and part-homage, Schmigadoon! follows doctors Melissa (Cecily Strong) and partner Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) backpacking through the woods, losing their way, and soon stumbling upon the exclamation-pointed town. At first assuming they have come upon a tourist attraction, the two soon realise they are in a musical, and the only way out is through finding true love. Until then, they are living in this town that regularly breaks into song and dance, set in a time where women are not doctors and $20 is a mammoth sum.

With a talented cast including Aaron Tveit (playing Danny Bailey), Dove Cameron (Betsy), Jaime Camil (Doctor Lopez), Alan Cumming (Mayor Menlove), Kristin Chenoweth (Mildred Layton), and Fred Armisen (as Reverend Layton), the six-part miniseries takes viewers through the couple’s exploits as they turn to locals to find true love, and leave the town forever changed, aided by musicals aplenty. There are also several references to and commentary about musicals, including Brigadoon, The Sound of Music, and Carousel among many others.

The best parts of the show are the several references to being inside a musical, from Josh not wanting to sing to Melissa declaring that everyone hates dream ballet.

This constant referencing serves as one of the main comic tropes of the series, and sometimes falls flat but works for the most part. It also calls out the sexism, homophobia, racism, and other problematic tropes of old-time musicals.

Schmigadoon!’s musical numbers are lively and excellently performed parodies, especially when Melissa stands in front of a couple and teaches them about the reproductive system to the tune of ‘Do-Re-Mi’ from The Sound of Music, and when Mildred Layton performs a song influencing the entire town about the danger that the couple pose, influenced by ‘Ya Got Trouble’ from The Music Man.

Through all the musical numbers, the conflict at the heart of the show is Josh and Melissa’s relationship. Through flashbacks of their time together, we see the couple’s relationship grow, scenes that are perhaps meant to have viewers rooting for the couple. However, a lack of chemistry between the actors is evident. Josh meets the school teacher Emma (Ariana DeBose) and learns of her secrets while Melissa begins working with Doctor Lopez as a nurse, both seemingly better suited in these couplings than with each other. But quite early on, we learn that true love means putting the work into a relationship instead of being something that can be found, and the show does not fully build up the curiosity about how they will end up together.

But as they find their way to each other, they also change the town forever, giving people the courage to live honestly and shatter more musical tropes, of the types of characters one comes across. Each person confesses their secrets in front of the entire town, from the innkeeper who hates his job and wants to be an actor, to the town doctor who is actually a veterinarian, and from the pretty Betsy who only wants to get married being pretty sure she is a socialist to the town bad boy who is “tired of being a rapscallion” and wants to be better. Both Josh and Malissa have grown to value each other during their time apart, and the show ends as they walk toward the magical bridge that will let them through to their own world.

Though bumpy at times, Schmigadoon! is a feel-good comedy and a hat-tip to musicals, worth a slow-Sunday watch.

Schmigadoon! is streaming on Apple TV+.

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