Annie to Mella: There’s no reason we need to be shackled by the strictures of the employee-employer relationship. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. In which case, I got some shackles in the back. I’m just kidding. But seriously, I’ve got ’em.
I think Silicon Valley has achieved something very rare and resonant which is creating a true underdog story.
I think the idea of the underdog gets messed up a lot and often it turns into the narrative trying to get us to root for someone who’s not actually the best out there because of some murky idea of “heart” (whether or not the main character is actually shown to be an especially good person, they just sort of expect you to accept that they have heart).
To me, creating a powerful underdog isn’t saying “this person isn’t the best, but, hey they’re a nice guy and deserve a break.” It’s saying “this person is the best and it could very well not matter at all.”
In so much of the movies and TV shows I see, the “bad guys” are the people who’ve been working at something harder and are therefore much better and the fact that we’re asked to root for the scrappy hero creates a weird mixed message. In Silicon Valley, Gavin Belson and his corporation are completely inept and fail at every basic level, but until the very last minute they’re shown to have every chance of winning.
There’s never been any question that Pied Piper’s tech is the best, the question is whether Pied Piper exists in a world where being the best remotely matters.
I think it’s interesting that the reaction to the Power Rangers Trailer is yet another example of a beloved product being beset with complaints about “ruined childhoods” and other such nonsense, because it somehow doesn’t capture the feel of something that happened decades ago. This is becoming a disturbing trend of franchises not being allowed the chance to be updated and find new audience, while the old audience are also not a viable or trustworthy source of profit for any “return to glory” ventures.
People have completely warped the idea of the likable main character. While people claim to still love the underdog story, it’s becoming more likely that what they truly love is the top dog story. The likeable, easy going protagonist, probably even a well mannered jock, who goes on to discover a great destiny seems to be what people prefer while the under dog stories seem to be the ones they hate.
The recently released Power Rangers trailer makes it obvious that the protagonists are social outcasts. They’re not cool, they’re picked on, they have parental and domestic issues, which is frankly, a harsh reality for a lot of people who’ll be watching this movie. However it goes without saying, that the point of the movie (because this much should be as clear as day) is that these “social outcasts” go on to become Earth’s Mightiest Defenders, they go on to, at the end of the day, defy their social standing to do great things.They go on to not be defined by their background or social status, a testament to the fact that anyone can be the hero. It doesn’t matter where you are on the ladder, you don’t need to be the obvious or popular choice, heroes can and do come from unlikely sources, who you are today is no barrier to the great person you can be tomorrow; which is the point of a true underdog story.
But it seems since these aren’t a bunch of preppy, flower smelling, smilers from Angel Grove with “attitude”, having cute sleepovers, cycling through the park or having family picnics, it’s considered yet another example of an affront to someone’s supposed clean and pristine childhood.
I think the pairing that I just really always loved watching because they are two of my favorite people was Finn (Cory Monteith) and Rachel (Lea Michele). I think it was the character, Rachel — Lea kind of added, like, her crazy personality and her obsession with this popular guy. And the fact that he liked this girl that wasn’t seen as technically popular and kind of stayed true to the underdog story of what the show kind of was.
In May of 2012, I discovered “Matilda The Musical” via a clip on YouTube of the OLC singing the heartwarming, and heart breaking song, “When I Grow Up.”
In May of 2015, I saw “Matilda The Musical” for the 20th time on Broadway.
“Matilda The Musical” has filled my soul in ways I didn’t know possible. Theatrically, it pushed the boundaries of what musicals could be with its funky aesthetic, it’s dark tones, and wildly inventive staging. It creates what I believe to be the perfect show in all aspects. It is challenging yet accessible, funny yet gloomy, and grand yet intimate.
It is a true underdog story; about standing up for the things in life you believe in. Matilda teaches us “If you sit around and let them get on top, you might as well be saying you think that it’s ok, and that’s not right.” This message is so universal, and allows everyone to derive their own meanings from it. I think that’s why I love Matilda – it’s about overcoming the hardships in your life by tackling them head on – and not let anything stop you, no matter how “little” you feel.
So, why have I seen the show 20 times? Well, originally it started just because I loved the show. I saw the 4th preview on March 7th, 2014 with Sophia Gennusa as Matilda. She was spectacular. I sat in the VERY last row of the balcony, and gazed down on this momentous show. I felt so full. I sobbed and was so thankful to be able to witness such an incredible piece of storytelling. I returned a month later and saw Milly Shapiro in the titular role. I enjoyed the show even more, and my love for it continued to grow. I then set out to achieve a goal: see all 4 Original Broadway Cast Matilda’s. It took 5 times, but I did eventually see all four: Sophia Gennusa, Milly Shapiro, Bailey Ryon, (Bailey Ryon again), and then Oona Lawrence. After seeing Milly once more, it was time for the OBC girls to graduate Crunchem, and a new cast – the NEWtilda’s - to step in.
This same tradition followed with the next 2 sets of Broadway Matilda’s. It was a fun game – you never know who is performing for a certain night, until an hour before curtain, when it is posted in the lobby. A twitter handle, @MatildaBwayNYC relies on random Matilda fans to tweet in what actress is performing each night if they happen to see the show, or pass the theater. It took a while, but I did indeed seeing all 4 NewTilda’s – Paige Brady (x2), Gabby Pizzolo (x3), Ripley Sobo, and Ava Ulloa (x2).
By the time the Tinytilda’s (the 3rd rotation of 4 actresses) began, I was able to do something exciting. That was to try and see their first performances in the roles. In the month of August 2014, Matilda had a set of special 6pm Sunday Evening performances. It just so happened that at every one of these performances, a new Tinytilda debuted. I caught Fina Strazza’s marvelous debut, and then two weeks later caught Eliza Holland Madore’s. Ironically, I ended up seeing both Eliza and Fina twice throughout their runs. I managed to see Brooklyn Shuck in mid November of 2014. I am saddened to report that I was never able to see Tori Feinstein in the role, as I could never catch a performance she was on. Luck was certainly not in my favor.
Now, why else do I watch the show so much? Well, I love all the aspects of it. The cast, the technical elements, and the way the show ticks. Every time I see it, I get to catch new things I missed the time before, or figure out a new element that I hadn’t understood yet technically. I’ve seen over 2 dozen understudies perform, and I’ve seen at least 2 different actors play every role. I never tend to get attached to casts, but I really genuinely loved and respected everyone in the OBC. Ben Thompson was especially caring, and my friends and I loved supporting him as Trunch/his “last” show (before he returned for a brief stint.)
Matilda means the world to me. Is it my favorite show of all time? Probably, I’m not sure. I’m 20 years old. I have a lot left to learn and experience. All I know is that Matilda The Musical has influenced my life in the most positive and artistically stirring way possible. I do not see the show to gloat about the number - I rarely have told anyone the actual number. It’s about the experience. It’s about the feeling I get every time Matilda and Miss Honey do the cartwheel at the end. It’s about the feeling I get when Matilda the swings fly over the audience, and when Matilda rises into the air to grasp her own mind. When I lose those feelings, I will stop seeing Matilda. But I will never stop being thankful for what it has given me.