An ad released today for Minnesota’s Great River Shakespeare Festival parodies Bravo’s plethora of “Real Housewives” with their summer lineup of Shakespearean leading ladies. On the surface, it’s just good fun – Lady M tearing up that there is more to her than just being “evil,” Goneril throwing a hissy fit about being the favorite, Titania threatening to call up storms on Denmark when Gertrude insists she is the better Queen, and little Juliet spouting romantic inanities.
However, the tagline is the best part for me: “Big Drama. Better Writing.”
Shakespeare’s audiences loved the same drama we do – forbidden romance, competition, ambition, family troubles – we watch them all the time, whether we admit to watching Real Housewives or tune in to Glee or Mad Men instead. We love drama. Shakespeare wrote dramas, and he wrote better than anyone on staff at Bravo (though let’s just forgive him for Henry VIII, ok?).
Yes – this is an ad. But it’s a good point to take back to your classrooms next fall when your new crop of students moans their first anti-Shakespearean tones. If they watch TV at all, they’ll get what’s going on with Shakespeare’s plays – they’re just going to see it done better.