You can't stop NBC — at least, not when it comes to its live musicals. In 2013, the network known for Thursday night sitcoms and Saturday Night Live began breaking up its holiday specials with a musical that was performed and aired live. I know — scary. But the network found success with this formula. Just look at the Hairspray Live! tweets and memes from the network's fourth musical event.
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, NBC aired Hairspray Live!, and it was met with much applause (and a few naysayers, but as a Hairspray aficionado, I'm choosing to ignore them.) The movie turned musical turned movie remake follows Trace Turnblad, a self proclaimed "pleasantly plump" teen of the '60s who wants nothing more than to star on the local TV show, The Corny Collins Show. But it's not all big dancing and bigger hair. The musical also explores the racial segregation that took place in Baltimore during the decade; a topic that is, unfortunately, still relevant today.
In an interview with The Today Show, the Hairspray Live! cast discussed how the musical's message is more relevant today than when it was brought to Broadway in 2002 and back to the big screen in 2007. "When I was doing Dreamgirls, I had to go back and look at what was happening in the ‘60s," Jennifer Hudson, who plays Motormouth Maybelle, said in the interview. "I don’t find myself having to do that now. It’s like, turn on the news. It helps us in a way because now we can relate in this day and age. I think it gives the story that much more power and meaning."
Harvey Fierstein, who will be reprising his Tony-winning role as Edna Turnblad, echoed Hudson's sentiments. "Those kids in 2000, we had to educate them about segregation," he said. "This group of kids, very unfortunately knows it’s true, and we don’t have to educate them about it."
But despite the deep and important message of Hairspray Live! — which, to paraphrase "You Can't Stop The Beat", is that world shouldn't separate white from black — the show is lighthearted and filled with laugh out loud moments. From the opening number to the final bow, fans were drawn into the special even before it began.
And when the first scenes of downtown Baltimore appeared on the screen, the praise came rolling in.
Even celebrities were getting in on the excitement.
Of course, there were some critics who are entitled to their opinion.
But despite the small slip ups and missing songs like "New Girl In Town" and "Big Dollhouse," Hairspray Live! was a successful show. At least, from a Twitter standpoint. And, when you think about it, what better way to judge success in this age than 140 characters of praise?