Tag Archives: Alanis Morissette

Thoughts on The Jagged Little Pill Controversy

Art has a way of changing the world as few things can. But that does not mean that the final product is approved of by everyone in the audience.

When the musical Jagged Little Pill (based on the Alanis Morissette album of the same name) hit Broadway opened at the end of 2019, it was met with rave reviews. The story of the Healy family and their struggles spoke to the shit we all go through everyday. With the show re-opening at the end of the month, there has been some issues with the character of Jo, played by Lauren Patten.

If what has been said is true, Jo was supposed to be non binary, but was written as a lesbian. In the statement released by the producers, they will be reworking the role to reflect the criticism.

One of the topics that has come up with this controversy is representation. I completely agree that representation these days is super important. Though there has been a vast improvement in both the image and numbers of non cis-gender heterosexual Caucasian men in the media, the truth is that we have a long way to go in truly reflecting the audience.

Speaking as a writer, one of the aspects of this conversation that is missing is how Jo evolved from the first draft until the premiere. In the process of writing, both characters and narrative change over the course of the creation of the work. What also may have happened is tryouts and previews, she was tweaked by both the actor, the writer(s), and the director until everyone was satisfied with the final product.

I have two concerns with everything that is whirling around Jagged Little Pill. The first concern is that it will ultimately force the show to close. When a scandal erupts over an IP, one of two things happen. The first is that it arouses interest and brings in audiences who otherwise would have passed it by. The second is that the scandal become so overconsuming that the executive team has no choice but to call it quits.

The second concern is that producers will look the scandal and if they see a script that is similar to JLP, it will go into the “no pile”. Not because of the quality of the work, but because of the possibility of negative press.

Only time will tell if JLP survives or closes. My hope and my prayer is that it survives because it proves that there is room for creativity and new concepts on Broadway.

P.S. Lauren won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical last weekend. It is an honor that is well deserved.

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Filed under Broadway Musical Review, Music, Thoughts On...., Writing

Best Books of 2020

  1. Hearts, Strings, and other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins: This modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1814 novel Mansfield Park is one of the best professionally published fanfictions I’ve read in a long time.
  2. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary Trump: You Know Who’s only niece, Mary Trump tells her uncle’s story as only a close family member can.
  3. Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, by Evan Osnos: This biography tells the President-elect’s story from a human perspective, giving the reader an insight that the news headlines cannot.
  4. Bronte’s Mistress, by Finola Austin: Austin delves into the myth of the affair between Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson, his older and married employer. Giving voice to Branwell, his youngest sister Anne and Mrs. Robinson specifically, she introduces the reader to the woman behind the rumor.
  5. Rage, by Bob Woodward: Legendary journalist Bob Woodward takes the reader into the current Presidential administration and the chaos created by you know who.
  6. The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron: Cameron’s book follows the story of Stefania Podgorska, a Polish-Catholic teenage girl who saved thirteen Jews during World War II.
  7. Jagged Little Pill: The reader is taken into the world of the hit musical, Jagged Little Pill: The Musical.
  8. Pretending: A Novel, by Holly Bourne: April believes that she is damaged goods, romantically speaking. When she creates an alter ego named Gretel, the results are surprising.
  9. A Star is Bored: A Novel, by Byron Lane: Lane, a former assistant to the late actress and writer Carrie Fisher, spins his time working for her into a hilarious and entertaining novel.
  10. Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda, by Jean Guerrero: This insightful and frankly scary book tells the story of Presidential aide Stephen Miller.

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Filed under Anne Bronte, Book Review, Books, Broadway Musical Review, Fanfiction, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Mental Health, Movies, Music, National News, Politics, Star Wars, Writing

Jagged Little Pill Book Review

In every generation, there are handful of musicians who bust open the door musically and emotionally. They speak their truth and in doing so, allow their fans to do the same.

In 1995, Alanis Morissette burst onto the scene with her third album, Jagged Little Pill. It became an instant classic, speaking for and to a generation of young people who were confused, angry, and disappointed. Last year, the musical adaptation of JLP opened on Broadway. Combining Morissette’s music with a narrative that is firmly entrenched in our era, it became a hit and has been nominated for 15 Tony Awards.

In November, the official book from the musical was released. Taking readers behind the scenes, the book contains interviews with the cast and crew, discussions of the real world issues that are weaved into the narrative, and incredible photography.

I loved this book. It is a must read for fans of both the musical and the original album. I loved how deep readers are taken in, for me it is a reminder why this show is so dam good. It is also the perfect companion to keep us happy until next spring, when Broadway (hopefully) re-opens.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Thoughts On the 25th Anniversary of Jagged Little Pill

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I was a teenager, I felt a little lost. I wanted and needed someone who spoke to me and for me. I found that someone in Alanis Morissette and her breakthrough album, Jagged Little Pill. Produced by and co-written with Glen Ballard, it became an instant classic the moment it was released.

Yesterday was Jagged Little Pill‘s 25th anniversary.

As an artist, Alanis gave her listeners the permission and room to feel. Some of the lyrics are not pretty or easy to hear. They are difficult, challenging, and speak of the hard truths in life that we all have to face at some point. As a woman in the music business, she faced the same prejudices that female artists still face today. In writing how she saw the world, she became a trailblazer, an icon, and a hero for women.

I have loved this album for the last 25 years and I hope to love it for another 25 years.

Happy Anniversary, Jagged Little Pill.

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Depression & Perfectionism: Failure is not an Option

Human beings make mistakes. It is a part of life, as much as we may hate it.

One of the harder aspects of depression (at least from my perspective) is perfectionism. In a nutshell, it is the ultimate desire to be perfect and the toll it takes to reach a goal that is forever unreachable. In my case (and I suspect in many others who suffer from mental illness), the unrealistic expectations create a negative emotional spiral, regardless of whether a mistake has actually happened.

It feels like failure is not an option and will never be an option. The only way to be is perfect, knowing full well that perfection is impossible. When a mistake is imagined, it could easily trigger an anxiety attack. When a mistake is real, it feels nothing short of life shattering. It’s as if we are unworthy of all the good things that life offers, unless we are perfect.

Perfect is one of the songs on Alanis Morissette’s ground breaking 1995 album, Jagged Little Pill. I can’t think of a better way to sum up the disease that is perfectionism.

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Jagged Little Pill Broadway Musical Review

Family is complicated. Life is complicated. Bring those together and you have a complicated reality.

The new musical, Jagged Little Pill (based on the groundbreaking 1995 album by Alanis Morissette) takes place in suburban Connecticut. The Healy family appears to be picture perfect. Steve Healy (Sean Allan Krill) works long hours in the city, creating an emotional rift between himself and his family. His wife, Mary Jane (Elizabeth Stanley) does everything she can to be the perfect wife and mother. But an off stage car accident and a prescription for post surgery pain killers has led Mary Jane down the road to addiction.

Their son, Nick (Derek Klena) is everything a parent would wish for in a teenage son. His collegiate path seems to be headed straight to the Ivy Leagues, but Derek is not sure if this is the best option for him. Adopted daughter Frankie (Celia Rose Gooding) is unsure about her place in her mostly White community. Focused on social justice and getting into a relationship with her best friend Jo (Lauren Patten) is only the beginning of her struggles.

With a book written by Diablo Cody, Jagged Little Pill is more than the standard jukebox musical. The narrative includes thorny issues such as addiction, sexual assault, finding your sexuality, growing up, etc. But instead of being written as if standing on a soapbox, Cody naturally integrated the issues into a story of a family going through a rough patch.

Though the impression is that one needs to be a fan of Morissette and her music to enjoy the show, that is not necessarily true. It helps to know the songs, but not knowing them is not a deterrent for seeing and enjoying the show. I don’t see Broadway musicals very often, but this (for me at least) is one for the books.

I will warn that some long time Morissette fans might be a little put off by change of some lyrics. The changes were only made to match the narrative and are still the same songs that we have known and loved for 25 years.

I absolutely reccomend it.

Jagged Little Pill is playing at the Broadhurst Theater in New York City. Check the website for showtimes and ticket prices.

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Blue Ivy, Brock Turner And The Unquestioning Need For Feminism

It’s no secret that the world has changed. Especially for women. Generations of hard work and perseverance have opened doors and created cracks in the glass ceiling that will only grow larger.

But for every accomplishment that is mind-blowing, we are reminded that we still have not achieved true equality.

Last week was the MTV VMAs. Joining Beyonce and Jay Z was their four-year old daughter, Blue Ivy.

Some women felt compelled to use social media to bash this child for not being “pretty enough”.

Are they kidding? This child is adorable. What is sad is that these comments reveal not only the dark side of the internet, but also the fact that women still feel the need to judge their fellow female and verbally mock her for her physical appearance. To attack another adult is one thing, but to attack a child? That is beyond low.

In her 2002 song, Sister Blister, singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette called out women who feel compelled to act like these women did.

And then we get to Brock Turner. He should have spent the next six years in jail as was recommended by the prosecutor during his trial. He served a paltry three months. His early release sends two very scary messages: class and race privileges still exist in this country and women are still considered to be property to be used among other things for the sexual pleasure of men. While Brock Turner may be able to return to his life as if the rape never happened, the woman he raped will never be able to escape her past.

And that is why we still need feminism.

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