What TV and movies think school plays are like

From "Romeo and Juliet" performances to X-mas recitals, there's no better place for adults to embarrass themselves

By Prachi Gupta
August 3, 2014 1:30AM (UTC)
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In real life, you might say that a school play is a charming educational milestone, a chance for kids to feel like rock stars, and for parents to marvel at how talented said kids are. But if you've ever seen a movie about high school or a TV show about a dysfunctional family, the sentiment is the exact opposite: School plays are mind-numbing affairs where adults can creatively embarrass themselves. Don’t go to a school play, you'd think: Your kid will disappoint you, your wife will leave you, and the world will see you for the sham that you are. Here are six clips that drive that point home:



Just look at what happens when Gil Buckman (Steve Martin), a neurotic workaholic, makes time for his family:

“Love Actually”

Or, in "Love Actually," where the real-life dysfunction of adults overshadows a Christmas recital in the movie's most dramatic sequence. Karen (Emma Thompson) confronts Harry (Alan Rickman) about cheating on her, while the prime minister (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) steal the show with a kiss.


“Mean Girls”

Amy Poehler as Regina's mom is the real star of this show:

"Arrested Development"

The high school production of "Romeo & Juliet" served as the backdrop for some of the most awkward familial interactions in season 1 of "Arrested Development." It's where Tobias Funke (David Cross) jumpstarted his career as an ac-TOR, where George Michael (Michael Cera) first acted upon his romantic love for Maeby (Alia Shawkat) and drove the first of many wedges betwen Maeby and Tobias. Admittedly not the best clip to illustrate, but it was an embarrassing, drawn-out affair for all involved.


“Hamlet 2”

"Hamlet 2" runs with the idea that the school play is embarrassing and turns into a full-length feature, leading to one musical disaster after another. Here is "Rock Me Sexy Jesus":

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”

"Always Sunny" character Charlie Kelly isn't a kid, but he might as well be. His hilariously disastrous musical, "The Nightman Cometh," is proof. The lesson here is that putting on a play for the woman you are stalking isn't going to win her over.


Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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