This past Wednesday, ABC decided it wanted to join the ranks of NBC and FOX and produced a remake of Dirty Dancing. It was supposed to be the musical version of the 1980's cult classic, which would explain the weird fake singing and fake piano playing the father did towards the end of the film. I am slightly ashamed to say that I did not see the original until after watching the remake. You don't have to judge me, I judged myself enough for it. While I didn't think that the remake was superior to the original, there were highlights. I appreciated the fact that the mom and dad character had more of a storyline, instead of just bits and pieces of a plot allotted to them whenever Baby wasn't dancing or trying to help someone. They had real moments between them, and I thought it was beautiful.
As I said, I never saw the original all the way through before watching the remake so I thought that everything I saw was exactly how it happened in the original. I was disappointed to see that the real mom and dad barely said anything. Especially the mom played by Kelly Bishop, some of her lines were so sad I think they added them in so she could believe she was cast for a reason. Debra Messing, on the other hand, had plenty of lines. The writers flushed out the mom and dad characters to the point of them having actual personalities, that was a great thing. Another positive was that Baby's sister was actually nice and talented. I get that it was a comedic thing in the original for her to not be able to sing, but I liked Sarah Hyland as the sister much more than the original sister. There were other minor changes but the rest of it was pretty much true to the story.
The only change that I absolutely hated and did not need was the new ending. Instead of letting the audience be happy that Baby did the lift and Johnny came back (reason still unknown), they decided to go back to grown up Francis (Baby) in the theater after watching Dirty Dancing the Musical. She is walking away, when who else but Johnny, comes up to talk to her. His hair was horrible and he looked like he had been through some things, but he was there. The romantic in me thought "Oh how cute, they decided to show us that their love lasted all these years." That, however, was not the case. In the back of my mind, I heard a romantic melody playing while the two awkwardly spoke to each other. The music came to a screeching halt when a child ran up behind Baby (Francis) and Johnny was staring at the child like "Is she mine?" I was sitting on the floor of my living room thinking "Is she his..." She was not, because Baby's husband, some random guy named Charlie I think, came up and kissed her.
Listen writers of the remake, if I wanted to watch La La Land, which I don't, I would have. I did not need to know that they were both successful if they did not end up together. It has bothered me ever since I watched it. I felt robbed of three hours of my life. After revealing she has a family, Baby kisses Johnny on the cheek and walks away and he stands there watching her go. I sat there, on my floor, mad. I couldn't believe it ended this way. This could have been an alternate ending that you only saw if you bought the DVD... But alas, it was not and anyone who ships Baby and Johnny should be very upset with what was done.
All that being said, I will tell you my absolute favorite thing about the remake. And her name is Abigail Breslin. It wasn't her acting, or her dance moves, or even her singing. Nothing about her performance particularly stood out to me. What I liked about her being cast was that she looked like an average 16 year-old girl. She wasn't very thin or too curvy. She had a sort of plain Jane look and I believe that is what Baby is supposed to be. Baby became someone I could identify with because of her average-ness. I'm not saying that Abigail Breslin isn't a beautiful woman because she is, but casting her as a lead when she doesn't fit the "type" was a beautiful thing to see. In the theater world as well as Hollywood, people are told to know their types. That's why you see some actors playing the same roles all the time. There are several types but not nearly enough for the many diverse actors there are in the world. Some actors I believe can defy types, but because they don't "look" the part, they aren't given the chance.
A leading lady is usually small, dainty, thin, and very beautiful. In the remake, Baby did not exactly fit the normal look, but it was still her story. Johnny still thought she was beautiful and sexy and I think that was something that we needed to see. You don't have to look a certain way to be with a certain person. That's not realistic. If you really pay attention to couples around the world, some of them will surprise you. You'll find your media-consumed, Hollywood-brainwashed mind going "Why is he with her" or "What does she see in him" but the beauty of it is, it's not about what other people think or see it's about the individuals in the relationship. I personally loved seeing Abigail Breslin because although our bodies are not the same, I too am not the typical leading lady type. It was refreshing. And although it's great when actresses write parts for themselves like Mindy Kaling and Amy Schumer, it's nice when casting directors break the rules. If anything should be learned from ABC's attempt, it's that casting should be inclusive. It should probably also be correct, but that's another article.