If you couldn’t tell from my raving review of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, I’m a big fan of being honest about the fact that not everything I enjoy is feminist. And I don’t think it needs to be. While I have certainly had moments where sitting through certain movies or TV shows became painful and all I wanted to do was curl up with some bell hooks to make myself feel better, I also don’t hold popular media up to an idealistic code. I know that a lot of pop culture is not going to be feminist, and while that is something that I would love to change, I know that in the meantime I am probably going to be watching TV shows that both make me laugh (or cry) and make me cringe. All of this is to preface the fact that as much as I enjoyed the premiere of ABC’s new musical comedy Galavant…it definitely made me cringe. A lot.
The first thing I thought upon sitting down to watch Galavant was that I felt like I was watching Monty Python or The Princess Bride, but with music and singing. There were plenty of innuendos and silly jokes to keep me laughing, albeit some with better comedic timing than others. There were times, however, when the number of jokes being thrown around felt unnecessary. I couldn’t tell whether it was problem with some of the jokes just not being as funny as others, or just some sort of joke saturation – I imagine it was a combination of both. Humor aside – Galavant was just fun. The vaguely medieval setting, characters that walk the line of being caricatures of themselves, swordplay, John Stamos’ cameo role – they’re all entertaining features in a show. Is there much depth to any of it? Not at all. But I don’t believe everything I watch needs to have great depth (remember I’m the one who only found out there was a Red Tent miniseries because I happened to be watching the Lifetime Grumpy Cat Christmas movie).
In short: if you’re a fan of musicals and campy humor, and the occasional sexist joke doesn’t bother you, go watch Galavant. Don’t expect it to be spectacular, or life-changing. But if you want some music and laughs, give it a shot. You (probably) won’t be disappointed. One thing I did appreciate was that there were a couple characters of color, and they weren’t presented as being from some strange exotic land in order to explain their skin color. They were just there, and that was pleasantly surprising.
Of course, watching Galavant and thinking about all of the things that it is not also led me down another train of thought: what would a feminist musical comedy look like, if it were to stay in this kind of genre? Or how about a QUEER feminist musical comedy? Fierce lady knights and sassy queens running their kingdoms? A variety of masculinities all accepted as equally valid without having to make jokes about some of them being more like “real” men? Ah. It’s nice to dream, at least. If you have your own dreams for a feminist musical comedy you would love to see, share them in the comments! Maybe we can make them a reality someday.