It has arrived: After much hand-wringing, anticipation, mockery and sharpening of critical knives before it even premieres, “Peter Pan Live!” starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken airs Thursday night on NBC.
The network’s new commitment to airing live reenactments of classic musicals has become synonymous with the term “hate-watching.” But before you hate-watch something, shouldn’t you know a little more about it? Like, um, maybe why you’re supposed to hate it? Here you go:
Why is “Peter Pan Live!” a thing?
Last year, someone at NBC had the brilliant idea to stage a three-hour, live version of “The Sound of Music” around the holidays starring Carrie Underwood as Maria, along with Audra McDonald and Stephen Moyer. It drew truckloads of snark in the weeks leading up to the show, and Underwood was eviscerated on Twitter for her lack of acting skills. But all those haters who crowded around the TV to snicker — not to mention the more sincere musical-theater fans — added up to about 18 million, or approximately 22 million with DVR viewing factored in. So NBC execs immediately started brainstorming about another musical for 2014. “Many of you were rolling your eyes up until. . . the ratings came in,” NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told reporters.
Anyway, it didn’t take the network long to settle on “Peter Pan.” A production based on the 1954 Broadway version of the J.M. Barrie book was announced mere weeks after “Sound of Music.”
When will it air? Really, three hours?
Oh yes! “Peter Pan Live!” airs Thursday at 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. With the exclamation mark!
How can people plan to “hate-watch” something when they haven’t seen it yet and have no idea what it will be like?
That’s just how the Internet rolls these days. Arguably, the main reason people already anticipate they will loathe the special is because of its star, Allison Williams as Peter Pan. (They seem cool with Christopher Walken as Captain Hook, though.)
What’s the deal with hating Allison Williams? She seems okay.
Williams, 26, has the distinction of starring on HBO’s controversy-magnet dramedy “Girls,” which inspires a shocking amount of vitriol among the Internet/viewing public thanks to its purposefully unlikable millennial characters. Williams’ insufferable Marnie — a princess type who wants to be a pop star despite her questionable singing chops –draws particular bile, and some viewers seem to have a hard time separating the actress from her character. Already, “Peter Pan” fans are fretting she won’t be able to live up to the theatrical expectations they require, though she is a (YouTube) singer.
Plus, some simply can’t get over the fact that nepotism could have possibly come into play: Williams is the daughter of NBC News anchor Brian Williams. A fact that he has adorably acknowledged.
Doesn’t that make watching the show less fun?
It really does, but it’s also an unusual thing these days to see everybody watching the same thing at the same time — and admittedly, some of the live Twitter commentary during “Sound of Music” was quite entertaining. Allison Williams has addressed this herself and asks people not to watch with hate in their hearts: “‘Peter Pan,’ you cannot watch cynically,” she told the Daily Beast. “If you do, you’re going to hate it, no question. It falls apart instantly.” (Though she also said she bets people will get wrapped up in the nostalgia and forget to hate-tweet.)
Yeah, people are still going to watch cynically — it’s already started with the preview:
The brains behind the Washington Post Twitter account asked followers why they’re already opposed to the musical, and got a handful of differing responses:
@washingtonpost because of all their spammy sponsored Tweets
— Nancy Kricorian (@nancykric) December 4, 2014
@washingtonpost Because the Sound of Music was so bad it made people cringe and cry and they are now NBC-Live-Show-SHY
— John (@john_swails) December 4, 2014
— K. Lynn Trice (@KLynnTrice) December 4, 2014
— Denise C (@DuhTroof) December 4, 2014
@washingtonpost At some point, adults should stop watching Peter Pan.
— Mark Phillips (@phillips4hand) December 4, 2014
@washingtonpost I don’t get it. Peter Pan as originally staged is as creaky as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
— John Schuh (@JohnSchuh4) December 4, 2014
@washingtonpost Because it's "Peter Pan" and it's "Live". Welcome to 2014.
— mark (@timegoat) December 4, 2014