This is not a critical review into the quality of performances, or anything else, of RENT on Fox; this is about the memories it brought up and the feelings I feel watching it. This is about me, not the show; not a surprise to anyone who’s read anything on here before.
When Rent hit Broadway I was starting high school, about to be swept up in stage crew and discovering new friends who loved musicals as much as I did.
Growing up in my life of privilege I had been to NYC many times, but to see broadway shows and to go to the Met and MoMA. Here on stage was a new gritty world full of these amazing artists. I don’t remember hearing the soundtrack for the first time, but I do know I listened to it over and over again. I can’t tell pitch or tone or notes, but in my head I was hitting them all perfectly. This world was nothing like my sheltered suburban high school life (when the traveling show came through and I went to it with a few friends, one asked at intermission “what’s sodomy? Is it a religious thing?” Thanks to the line “sodomy, it’s between god and me.”) Rent showed a group of artists who were never going to be able to pay their bills, but were going to have a hell of a lot of fun and artistic fulfillment while they could.
A life devoted to art, could there be anything more worthwhile!?
That’s what the wide eyed 15 year old me thought, and truly, it’s still what I think. Well, I’m torn… I have an annoyingly practical risk averse mind. While part of me would love to be a starving artist squatting in alphabet city, a larger part of me sees being able to stand on my own two feet as the highest success. I have a steady full time day job, a mortgage linked to my bank account with auto pay three weeks before it’s due, and gave up on art at ten when it caused me too immense panic attacks for not being perfect.
At 37 years old, watching Rent on Fox is bringing up all the thoughts and feelings that in becoming this responsible grownup, I’ve really let down 15 year old me. She’d be so disappointed, and not at all surprised.