Get ready for NBC's star-studded, live musical holiday event, starring Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Shanice Williams, David Alan Grier, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley and many, many more.

My favorite moments from The Wiz Live

Black Twitter collapsed into a collective puddle of nostalgic tears Thursday night with NBC’s The Wiz Live. The live broadcast play offered a star-studded, modern take on the 1978 classic. The Wiz of 27 years ago was the film adaptation of a Broadway musical that sought to put a Black spin on The Wizard of Oz. Similar to Thursday night’s production, The Wiz featured performances from big Black names like Lena Horne (Glinda the Good Witch), Richard Pryor (The Wiz), Michael Jackson (The Scarecrow), and Diana Ross (Dorothy). The collaboration between Motown Records and Universal Pictures became a Black cult classic -a true test of the validity of one’s “Black card”- and caused Black 20 and 30-somethings (i.e. me) to cancel other plans in order to catch this televised event.

Perhaps it’s a result of this newfound adulthood, but Thursday’s production wasn’t nearly as magical. (This is also partly due to the fact that I misinterpreted what “Live” meant and didn’t think it would be a play.) While David Alan Grier NAILED the role of the cowardly Lion, and Mary J. Blige was exceptionally good as Evillene, there was much to be desired from some of the other characters, and they rushed through the plot. But it still meant something that we were able to sing along to the favorite musical numbers of our childhood. And this was some of the best live tweeting I’ve ever experienced. I think that in the midst of the collective emotional turmoil that Black people are experiencing at the hands of anti-Black terrorism, we honestly needed this 3-hour window of joy more than anything.

And where The Wiz Live lacked in living up to my 27 year old expectations, they SERVED in popular culture references, progressiveness, and inclusivity. Here are a few of my favorite moments:

Mary J. Blige as Auntie Wicked Witch

Not only did Mary J. Blige surprise me with a really good acting performance, hit the Quan, and sing for her life, she provided a necessary service for female villains everywhere. She was sexy! So often, women villains are cast, or made up to be ugly (the original Wicked Witch of the West), fat (The Little Mermaid’s Ursula), or otherwise “unattractive.” And in cases where a villain is beautiful, her means of achieving that beauty are often at the root of her evilness (think Snow White’s Evil Queen or The Countess in American Horror Story). Mary switched the style up and served me every bit of “your mom’s sister that only comes around every once in a while and always has a new husband, but she fine tho” realness.


Ballroom Realness at the Emerald City

In the 1978 film version of The Wiz, Emerald City was a sight to behold. A massive parade of men and women in elaborate, glistening costumes from the future that would make Panem capitol residents jealous. The choreographed dance and song routines were so elaborate that they would put some Broadway productions to shame. Needless to say, there was a lot of pressure to capture the magic of the Emerald City in The Wiz Live, even with the limitations of an on-stage production. But Director Kenny Leon had a plan. What better way to capture the regal flamboyance of the Emerald City than by bringing in elements of Ballroom vogueing?! This was the realest of nods to LGBTQ inclusivity and a necessary acknowledgement of the performance practices of those communities…  FIIIIEEEEERRRCCCEE!

KING Latifah as Androgynous Bae

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In a welcome twist, the gender of the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz was changed… kind of. Queen Latifah played this central role, making her the first woman to do so. The Wiz was referenced by male pronouns in Thursday’s play to accompany an androgynous look that Latifah dreamily slayed! After the reveal that the Wiz was a fraud, Latifah transformed into another flawless, female version of herself, hair straightened and flowing, effortless transgressing gender boundaries all over national TV. But let’s be honest: as the Wiz, King Latifah was bae AF.

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Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

is Feministing's resident sexpert and cynic.

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