Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: ‘Building a prom for everyone:’ Netflix’s ‘The Prom’ is a tale of LGBTQ+ acceptance

Editor’s Note: This column does contain spoilers from Netflix’s “The Prom.”

It’s time to dance– full of self-mockery, wicked cool songs, dance numbers and Indiana references, Netflix’s “The Prom” had me wanting to find my “zazz.” 

A musical buff at heart, this musical has me singing the lyrics around my house. The bedazzled tale of a high school lesbian is a nod to both the world of theater and LGBTQ+ acceptance. 

“The Prom” was released in December 2020, right in the heart of the Broadway shutdown. Featuring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and James Corden it arrived wrapped in a sparkly bow for those missing the theater. 

The movie follows the journey of four broadway stars trying to find redemption in the eyes of the press after their failed broadway premiere of “Eleanor.” In order to do this they travel to a small town in Indiana to help a high school girl named Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) get to go to prom with her girlfriend. 

Emma’s situation gained attention on Twitter after her school’s Parent Teacher Association voted to cancel their prom because Emma wanted to bring a girl to prom. Therefore breaking one of the PTA’s three rules– ladies must wear non-revealing dresses, men must wear suits or tuxes and if a student decided to bring a date they must be of the opposite sex.

After several messages from the Indiana State Attorney General Mrs. Green (Kerry Washington), the school's PTA president, votes to put the prom back on. In reality, she holds an “inclusive” prom just for Emma and then moves the prom for everyone else to a different location without Emma or the school principal (Keegan-Michael Key) finding out. 

Emma publishes a song online and, with the funding of her new New York City friends, holds an inclusive prom for everyone in Indiana– where Emma and her date Alyssa Greene (Ariana DeBose) are able to go together. 

This musical challenges many societal beliefs, something which I am a big fan of. In the song “Love Thy Neighbor”, Trent Oliver (Andrew Rannells) showcases perceived “flaws”  society would frown upon within all of the schoolmates who bullied Emma for being a lesbian. He points out how one girl has a tattoo, one had lost her virginity and another had divorced parents– all things that would be considered wrong or taboo in the Bible. By making these observations he explains the most important lesson we should learn from the Bible is to accept one another and love thy neighbor. This scene leads the students to apologize to Emma.  

It is a tale of acceptance, the importance of standing up for what you believe in and the power of song– the perfect movie to watch as Pride Month comes to an end.

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