You know, sometimes things are more clever than they have any right to be. Like last night’s episode of the medieval musical comedy Galavant, featuring a chorus of enfranchised peasants declaring “A New Tomorrow for Today.”
This time last year, I wrote about my unashamed love for the critically-acclaimed, if popularly ignored, wackiness that is the ABC series Galavant. My point then, as it is now, that we all need a little silliness from time to time, especially with cable TV’s obsession with moral ambiguities and complicated anti-heroes. Maybe it’s ok just to enjoy some unapologetic wackiness.
But then, who’s to say that unapologetic wackiness can never open itself up to deeper meanings? Just because a show might be a bizarre cross between The Princess Bride and Monty Python with a dose of Disney — does that necessarily dictate it can offer no commentary on the world? As one staunch defender of the value of silliness, I say of course whimsy need not be at odds with social commentary.
Let us return to the aforementioned “Build a New Tomorrow for Today.” Our hero Galavant and his erstwhile nemesis/BFF King Richard to the later’s Kingdom, where they discover his subjects have embraced democracy in the absence of their monarch. This being a music, the peasants naturally break out into a delightful production number about their newfound egalitarian mode of governance. Well … egalitarian for some people. The song includes great lines such as:
Peasants: So we all would march together towards the future
Peasant John: Well not all per se
Just the ones who look like me
Peasants: It’s called democracy!
Peasant #8: The landed!
Peasant #3: …and the wealthy!
Peasant #5: …and the pious!
Peasant #7: …and the healthy!
Peasant #1: …and the straight ones!
Peasant #2: …and the pale ones!
Peasant #1: …and we only mean the male ones!
Peasant John: If you’re all of the above, then you’re ok!
Peasant John + Peasants: As we build a new tomorrow here today!
It is, without question, a silly little song. And it naturally pokes fun at how those great individuals who were able to envision a democratic mode of government were, shall we say, fairly limited in scope regarding just who might benefit from their endeavors. It is easy to laugh at a TV show. And it is easy to laugh at those people in generations before us who were trapped in quite a limited way of thinking about who qualified as fully a person for the purposes of the law. As Galavant notes to Richard, the peasants’ way of thinking is “quite progressive for the middle ages.”
Whether intended on the part of the writers or not (and I rather imagine the answer is “not”), there is a bit more of an edge to this song about “building a new tomorrow” while being trapped in the same inequalities and prejudices that define our world today. How many times do even those of us who would love to embrace new attitudes or new ideas still find ourselves trapped in conventional ways of thinking (perhaps without even being aware of it)? It seems to me the only way our world ever truly changes — the only way we are able to make real steps toward a more egalitarian and just world — is thanks to those people who are able to see beyond what we take as inevitable facts about the way the world simply is to what the world could potentially be. People who truly do look to a new tomorrow and not just at the way things have to be today.
For my part, I’m just happy someone somewhere had enough of a creative vision to give a silly show like Galavant one more season. Sometimes, it’s just the little things you need in life.