When it comes to musicals, TV audiences used to be mostly limited to live renditions of big screen releases, with full-scale original productions being delivered to the masses only on the rarest occasions. Now, however, a slightly more vast array of tune-driven projects exists, with Apple TV+'s Schmigadoon! the latest (and possibly greatest) in the recent line-up of small-screen musicals that also includes the now-defunct Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, Central Park and others. And it cements another big comedy win for Apple TV+ just as Jason Sudeikis' mainstream success Ted Lasso is getting into Season 2.
For anyone who's a bit confused or wary of a show with an enigmatic title like Schmigadoon! - based on 1947's Brigadoon - let's go over some of the biggest reasons why Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong's new six-episode musical comedy should be the next breakthrough hit for Apple TV+.
The Town Of Schmigadoon! And Its Story Are Rich And Familiar
At its core, Schmigadoon! has as much in common with fairy tales as it does stage musicals. The town exists outside of measurable time and space, and basically serves as a moral, emotional and physical challenge to Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily's Strong's Josh and Melissa, the modern-day New York City couple that needs to genuinely discover "true love" before they are allowed to leave the endlessly quaint setting, whether it's together or apart. The episodes' structure juxtaposes Josh and Melissa's time in Schmigadoon with flashbacks depicting different and noteworthy points in their increasingly strained relationship, which adds to the whimsical nature despite being more firmly grounded in reality.
Schmigadoon! Is Made For People Who Love Musicals
From top to bottom, Schmigadoon! is a lovingly crafted parody that embraces the many musicals that inspired it, both in its full scope and in specific characters. For instance, Broadway star and recent American Horror Stories vet Aaron Tveit plays Danny, a womanizing carnival barker modeled after Carousel's Billy Bigelow. Meanwhile, Kristen Chenowith plays the magnificently stern preacher's wife Mildred Layton, who is based largely on The Music Man's Mrs. Shinn. And part of the fun of the show is watching how tropes and expectations get both bucked and fed into in equal amounts.
Schmigadoon! Is Also Made For People Who Don't Love Musicals
Just because Schmigadoon! creators Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio filled their new show with musical references, that doesn't mean viewers need to understand those references in order to enjoy the episodes, in the same way that you don't need to know that the Airport films exist in order to enjoy the classic spoof Airplane! Even if this was someone's very first experience with musical fiction, or if it was viewed by someone who absolutely abhors musicals, it would still be extremely effective, and is perhaps most similar to Galavant in that respect. The songs are that catchy, the lyrics are that clever, and the wordplay is that top-notch. To say nothing of the cast and their performances. Oh wait, let's not say nothing about those.
Schmigadoon!'s Cast Is A+, And Viewers Will Care About The Characters
Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key are stellar leads throughout Schmigadoon!, remaining likable even when their characters are being awful, while Alan Cumming's Mayor Aloysius Menlove may very well be the most amicable authoritative figure in all of fiction. Dove Cameron's farmer's daughter role could easily be a sexed-up stereotype, but she takes the role just enough beyond surface-level smarm. But arguably the standout character in the bunch is schoolteacher Emma Tate, as portrayed by Hamilton's Ariana DeBose, who really makes it feel possible that Schmigadoon could actually exist somewhere in the real world.
Kristen Chenowith's Big Moment
I'm not going to spoil anything here, since that would be a sin like few others on God's green Earth. Suffice to say, Kristen Chenowith delivers one of the most gloriously fabulous scenes of her career so far, and you won't know it's coming until you're already being wowed by it. And then you'll just want to rewind and go through it all again.
It's wild to me that, as someone who can appreciate musicals without ever truly being a fan of the genre, I am so wholly invested in not just one Apple TV+ musical comedy, but TWO of them. And while the animated Central Park scratches the itch for modernized approaches to the genre, Schmigadoon! is a reminder of why the genre's timeliness will always stay intact.
Along with Ted Lasso Season 2, Schmigadoon! is available to stream on Apple TV+, with new episodes releasing on Thursdays.