“Wicked” – which is a prequel and a sequel to “Oz,” both rarities in the theater despite their ubiquity in Hollywood – remains perfectly pitched to teenagers. For that, much credit goes to the book writer, Winnie Holzman, who created the cult 1990′s television series “My So-Called Life,” an unlikely predecessor for “Wicked” that also tapped into a certain kind of teenage angst that seemed refreshingly authentic at the time.
With “Wicked,” she has once again hit upon themes (makeovers, popularity, boys) that obsess girls.
Gee, if only “Wicked” had included tea parties with dolls or had colored everything pink. Or maybe had included a few songs about makeup and hair. Or had more horses – girls like horses, right? Then it would have been even bigger with teen girls!
There is indeed a makeover scene, and a boy, in “Wicked.” But it’s the grand (and yes, angsty) themes of the star-crossed friendship between two strong female characters, and a tragicly misunderstood, doomed main character, that appeals to so many teen girls. (How many modern musicals make a female friendship the center of the plot? Hell, how many even have two strong female characters? I don’t think it’s a puzzle that “Wicked” is more popular with teen girls than other musicals).
The makeover song, “Popular,” is funny and whimsical, and I don’t doubt that a lot of teen girls liked it (I did). But putting “Wicked’s” popularity down to makeovers and boys is a way of trivializing the interests of teen girls. The implication is that teen girls are too scatterbrained and silly to be attracted to themes like tragedy and friendship, even when those themes are obviously at the center of the musical; they must be going to “Wicked” for the makeover scene. Sheesh!