"You will have to keep your raging to a whisper," I explained to my teenager. The plan was to go see Dear Evan Hansen in the movie theater. My oldest likes the musical; which came first and LOVES the book which came second.

They had no expectation that the movie was good. They wanted to go to hate watch it.

Momma, can we go to the movie theatre and hate watch Dear Evan Handler this weekend?

They texted this request while at school.

Absolutely.

I replied right away.

Audiences criticized the casting of Ben Platt in the titular role of Dear Evan Hansen. Mr. Platt won the Tony for his performance on stage in 2015. Age 23. Cut to 6 years and a pandemic later and audiences' willing suspension of belief did not come as easy.

Turns out movie audiences aren't accepting a 29 year old playing a high schooler. Even though Stockard Channing was 35 when she played Rizzo in Grease. Michael Tucci; one of the T-birds looked 50 if he was a day.

"You have to remember some folks will be there to see the movie with no sense of irony." I explained.

"How's that possible?--"

"There are rules to hate watching--" I began.

"Sound like a blog post," My husband chimed in.

"You're correct!"

Rules for Hate Watching

  • Save loud vocalizations and grand physical gestures for private hate watching. If in public this kind of behavior is unfair to those who might not be there for the same reason.

  • When hate watching in private with others everyone has to be in hate watch mode. It's no fun when one person hate watches while everyone else is trying to watch in earnest. I watched In the Heights (the movie) with a small group. One attendee could not stop complaining that it was different from the stage version. Ruined the whole night.

  • There is to be no hate watching at live performances. #1Performers on stage can hear you. #2 It's rude. #3 It ruins the show for other audience members.

  • Hate watching isn't based in cruelty. Keep comments above the belt. Aim for funny "Haha" not funny "Ouchouch"

  • No spoilers. Social media posts must not contain spoilers. If you can't resist at least write SPOILER ALERT before you go to town.

Hate watching is actually joy watching at it's core. It's an opportunity to lean into the absurd, unfathomable and ridiculous. It's a chance to notice the exaggerated and small details. To giggle and laugh hard.

At Dear Evan Hansen my kids and I could not stop laughing (quietly) at the amount of bread served in a dinner scene. Each character had a oversized roll next to their dinner plate. Then there were two big plates filled with stacked bread rolls in the center of the table.

"Are they serving bread and nothing else?" I whispered. We laughed into our hands like we were kids in church.

Do I recommend Dear Evan Hansen? No.

Do I recommend hate watching? Absolutely.