Since I want to start getting into reviewing entertainment, this experience gives me the opportunity to get into a corner of entertainment that is often left un-reviewed in Christian circles: Broadway musicals. I was quite surprised by this, because there is so much depth to these musicals that we as Christian should be seeking to find. But I guess that many conservatives can also see much that is inappropriate on Broadway and the lifestyles often associated with working in that environment.
In doing reviews, I don’t want to tell you “this is good” or “this is bad and you shouldn’t like if you’re a Christian.” I want to bring to light positive elements and negative elements from the plot in hopes that it will help you discern what is right or wrong. That’s what we should be doing anyway. These are the messages that this play teaches:
Female Friendship is Valuable for Women
These women were tight friends. Anyone could see that right from the beginning. They were the best of friends in college, so much so that on their graduation day, they made a promise to always be there for each other. Unfortunately, their lives and marriages drifted them apart. When one of these four friends, Cynthia, finds out that her husband is leaving her, he jumps to her death off the balcony of her penthouse. Her death brings the other three friends back together, and in some ways, it was like they were never apart. But you quickly discover that they are different people that they used to be in college, and that things haven’t been too much better for these women than they were for Cynthia. By the end of Act I, all of their husbands have divorced them or want to divorce them for younger women and their husbands are also trying to cheat them out of their share in their companies and/or their money. But Brenda, Elise, and Annie come to realize that Cynthia’s death brought them together at the time they needed each other most.
We are also reminded of the consequences of not keeping up with these kind of friendships in the death of Cynthia. On one hand, since this play was set in the early 90’s, they didn’t have many of the technological advancements that make it easier than ever to keep up friendships over long distances. But I can’t help but wonder if Cynthia would not have ended her life if the girls had been there to help her through her darkest hour. Although good came out of it in the end, I think the girls get the sense that maybe they should have been there for Cynthia before it was too late. Don’t take any relationship for granted, because it’s quite true that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something
After the last of three marriages falls apart, the girls come together and at first are all upset and depressed, trying to drown their sorrows in drinks and ice cream. But then they all realize that they each have a letter Cynthia mailed to them before she died. They read it together and sense Cynthia’s last wish was a call to action. Before this point, everything in their lives was falling away and they didn't know what to do. But they realize that they shouldn't take it like sitting ducks, but that they should do something about it. That’s when they found “The First Wives Club.” Although I don’t agree with everything they do as a result, I think this call to action is a good point to be made.
A Wife Getting Ditched for a Younger Woman is Normal
I was very sad to see the reality of what so many women face in their marriages in this play. I knew that a lot of men become dissatisfied with their sexual lives, but I didn't really think about how many women are faced with a husband that is no longer satisfied with them and chooses instead to find a younger women to fulfill those needs. Whether these men ever realize it or not, they basically tell their wives, “You’re not good enough for me anymore.” Unfortunately, there are many other ways that husbands communicate the same time, even if they don’t know it, and it hurts the women they love more deeply than they ever know. It grieved me to see this played out in this way, and to see the consequences a selfish husband’s actions has on his dejected wife.
But there is no way that I can accept that. We need to remember that God has an incredible design for our sexuality, and a huge part of God’s design is fidelity. Even if a husband is dissatisfied sexually, it is wrong to seek out any other source of sexual fulfillment. That’s the way that God sees it, and it’s the way that Christians should see it too
Revenge Is Acceptable When You Have Been Cheated
Since their husbands all tried to cheat them out of their companies and money, they take matters into their own hands. They spend most of Act II trying to get revenge on their husbands and their mistresses. In the end, they rip the rug out from under their ex-husbands, taking their companies and sending their mistresses away. The play concludes with the founding of the organization “First Wives Club” in memory of Cynthia.
Although summaries I read of the film plot say they realized revenge made them no better than their husbands, I don’t really think they learned that lesson. I think they felt it was their right to have those companies because they had built them up and made their husbands look good in the process. And the fact that their husbands hurt them only gave them a better excuse. They also encouraged and helped each other to this end.
Other Things I Noticed in First Wives Club
- Brenda was able to reconcile with her husband. I was honestly shocked when this happened, but I was glad that some good came out of these women taking their husbands’ companies. After Morty signs the company away to Brenda, he acknowledges that Brenda was the brains behind the company and what he did was wrong. He forgives and asks him to come home. It was very sweet moment.
- The music and the production itself was great! The sets were clean and slick, and the music lives up to the quality of Broadway. It was very well done!
Several others things stood out negatively:
- Sexual content – In a play that is centered on divorce and affairs, it would be a natural to assume there is a lot of sexual content. At least three sex scenes inferred by discussion, wardrobe, or body positions. Some of the clothing is inappropriate and sexually explicit. You even see one of the husbands in a thong under an open robe (YUCK!!!). You also find out that one of the mistresses is a minor. Some of the songs have sexual implications. There was so much sexual content, it made me extremely uncomfortable at certain points.
- Language – There was a good amount of language used in this play. I didn't count everything, but I did count four usages of the F-bomb (mostly by Elise when she’s drunk or mad). One of the songs in the program is titled “Payback’s a B****”
- Mocking God's Moral Standards - In the picture shown above is a sculpture of Adam and Eve. Aside from the fact they are in an awkward pose, they are under a tree that has the serpent at the top with an apple in its mouth. What does that mean? I think it was meant to symbolize forbidden love, and it shows that at least the writers where aware that the affairs portrayed in this story were forbidden love. One of the other mistresses (the one who's a minor) is talked about having taking some sort of purity pledge and is made fun of as being "Jesus' girlfriend." She mentions how she didn't plan to fall in love and had ask God to forgive her, but still continued to sleep with Bill.
- Homosexual Agenda – There are two gay characters in the play that are in-your-face with their sexual preferences. One is Brenda’s interior designer Duane, who makes a statement early that his boyfriend dumped him because he was “too gay.” He is instrumental in parts of the girls’ plot to get their husbands back. The other is Annie’s lesbian daughter Alex, who is instrumental in helping her mom buy out her dad’s business partners. When he gets upset after he finds out, Alex makes the comment, “I’m a lesbian, Dad. A big one.” Her mom gives her a check to participate in a gay pride parade. Early in the play, Annie makes a comment about the world being so much more accepting of lesbians than they used to be.
(DISCLAIMER: I disagree with homosexuality, but I do not hate or condone hating those who are gay. However, I get frustrated when they try to shove their lifestyle and agenda in our faces, which is what I felt like they tried to do subtly in this play)