Another day, another cultural event about how shit it is to be a woman. Funnily enough, this one also takes place in a rural community in small town America.
This musical should definitely have a trigger warning. I can say that as someone who experienced a trigger last week and had a breakdown in a doctor’s office because of it.
It’s powerful, and a story that needs to be listened to. But it’s fucking intense. Like rape, addiction, suicide, and domestic abuse intense. Jenna is a waitress with her two best friends Dawn and Becky at Joe’s Diner in Somewhere-Unimportant-in-America where they make 27 different kinds of pie. Jenna is the baker and her true gift is for creating delicious and original pies – Blueberry Bacon Pie! She dreams of opening her own shop. Jenna got married way too young to a musician Earl that was actually in love with the way he looked in Jenna’s eyes, and not actually Jenna. When his music career never happens and he’s stuck working at a car factory, he becomes depressed and turns to alcohol. He eventually loses his job, and with his manhood threatened, he uses the only power he has left, his physical force, on the only person he can – Jenna.
Funny how one night can ruin your whole life.The Negative, Waitress
And then she finds out she’s pregnant. Jenna meets the neurotic-funny-kind-from-Connecticut gynecologist Dr. Jim Pomatter and they begin a passionate affair despite both of them are married, and if Earl found out. . . Jenna needs to leave her husband, but how?! Her boss Joe tells her about a pie competition where she could win $20,000! Will she win?!
To comfort this intense plot line, Becky and Dawn are funny, happy stories of true love. They truly make up for just how bland, depressing, and terrible the male characters are. Becky is a strong, honest, and caring woman who changes her husband’s diaper three times a day while having an exciting affair, while Dawn is an awkward, intelligent, and enthusiastic woman who through online dating finds the love of her life.
Oh, I loved this musical. So many strong and empowered women. The way they support each other, and stand up and fight to take ownership if their one life. It was inspiring.
Until the end. Despite Jenna standing up to her husband and asking for a divorce, despite Jim truly saying he cares about her and loves her, Jenna doesn’t open her own shop but is gifted the diner in the inheritance from Joe (thanks Joe!) and it is not spoken verbally about whether she wins the $20,000 pie competition. As for her romance life, Jenna never moves on from Jim putting all her love and energy into her daughter, and even naming her the diner after her daughter (Lulu’s Pies!), while Jim continues being married to his young wife (she was doing her residency while he was a practicing doctor) who blissfully trusts him and lives happily ever after.
So even though there are a bunch of strong female characters, it is still by the good graciousness of men that Jenna, Becky, and Dawn are able to be happy. That’s not very empowering.
And as for Lulu. Can you imagine the kind of person she grows up to be? The kind of person who thinks her name should be lit up on buildings, that the world was born just for her. I can name a few child stars that had a similar story – Justin Bieber, Shirley Temple, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez to name a few. All single mother stories…
I went to school with kids like Lulu, and trust me, they become just like their fathers. Self-absorbed, narcissistic assholes with low self-esteem.
Oh I could see the cycle happening again as I left the theatre. I felt there should have been a therapist waiting outside to meet us as we left, or at least a pamphlet on how to know if you’re in an abusive relationship and a hotline to call if you felt in danger or a hotline for male suicide.
Just the scent of apple pie and a solo tube ride home. Thankfully. I coulda had an Earl waiting for me. Instead, I wrote this review and went softly to dreams.
As much as I have been critical of Waitress, I do urge you to go and see this musical. The acting was phenomenal, the music was sensational (I love you Sara!), and the apple pie was probably delicious.
More info our buying a ticket. It’s about £20 a ticket for the upper circle!
A few charities that the profits from this musical should be going to:
Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children.
Refuge provides specialist support for women and children experiencing domestic violence.
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international mutual aid fellowship with the stated purpose of enabling its members to “stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.”
Campaign Against Living Miserably is leading a movement against male suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK.