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YMMV / Dear Evan Hansen

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • While Evan's initial lie comes from a sympathetic place, just where that place is greatly depends on how Cynthia is acting in that particular performance. If her growing hysteria is directed inwards, then the lie comes from a place of comfort, trying to persuade her that her son wasn't alone in life. If she's directing it towards Evan, especially if she comes towards him, then there are hints that he's just trying to get her to stop and then can't stop himself once he's going, especially since he's often portrayed as being somewhere on the Autism spectrum.
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    • Is Jared gay? It's never explored in-universe, but with all the gay jokes he keeps writing into the letters between Evan and Connor, it's hard not to wonder. It's likely just that—a joke—but some fans interpret this as Jared testing the waters with Evan about his own potential homosexuality since it's shown time and time again that Jared deals with just about everything through humor. Original Jared actor Will Roland has even supported this interpretation.. The 2021 film seems to go with this theory as it mentioned Jared hooked up with a guy at summer camp.
    • Zoe's part in "Requiem." Does she really not miss Connor and truly hate him, or is she going through denial—the first stage of grief? It's true that her relationship with Connor was very troubled and she's absolutely right that his death doesn't erase his actions, but she still sounds upset even while she insists she won't grieve for Connor.
      • Confronted with the idea that Connor was "not the monster that [she] knew" but a complicated person in a lot of pain, she's possibly grappling with a lot of conflicting emotions - guilt for not reaching out to her brother, anger and resentment that he was capable of being vulnerable and kind around Evan but not her - and has no idea anymore how she's supposed to feel about her brother.
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    • Was Imaginary!Connor really just Evan's Imaginary Friend, or was he a legitimate Spirit Advisor? It seems like it could go either way—for what it's worth, in the novel we do get some chapters from the perspective of Connor's spirit, and while he doesn't interact with Evan as much as in the musical, he does get a Not Too Dead to Save the Day moment.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: Several reviews of the movie say that, in a less obvious way, this show is just as ill-suited for a film adaptation as the notorious Cats, as swapping out the artificiality of the staging for a totally naturalistic look means you have nowhere to hide from how inherently uncomfortable the story is, and in the real world someone like Evan would absolutely not be the admirable figure he's portrayed as.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • In the original show, Alana publishing Evan's letter to Connor before disappearing entirely to let the Murphys deal with the backlash killed a lot of her sympathy, as it was hard to support such a massive breach of privacy (especially since, as far as she knows, it's Connor's suicide letter). The film changes this slightly; while she still publishes the letter online, it's revealed that she almost instantly regretted it and took it down as soon as responses started coming in.
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    • The film attempts to give Evan more of a comeuppance as he publicly admits to the entire fabrication, alongside actually trying to get to know who Connor really was while he was alive while helping the Murphys through it. Whether it actually works is hotly debated by the fans.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Evan himself. Specifically, the fanbase is split on whether he deserves sympathy or forgiveness after what he did. Part of the fanbase thinks that while what he did was wrong, he's still sympathetic and redeems himself in the end, citing his anxiety, depression, and mostly good intentions (not to mention in the novel it's made clearer that he tries to tell them in the first place, but doesn't want to break their hearts when they practically plead that Connor wrote the letter). Another part believes that what he did is simply too manipulative and cruel (however unintentionally) to the Murphys to be forgiven. (Of course, this doesn't factor in the mercifully small faction that doesn't think he did anything wrong at all.)
  • Broken Base:
    • Heidi's outbursts before and during "Good for You". Was she completely overreacting towards Evan seeing the Murphys as a Parental Substitute, and is the one at fault due to her little time spent with her son? Or is her anger completely in-character and justified, due to Evan secretly choosing the Murphys instead of actually talking to her about his problems?
    • The novel and its canonicity to the musical. Particularly the backstory and character it gives Connor and the existence of Miguel.
    • "To Break In A Glove" is the show's most divisive song. Detractors believe it's a boring number that isn't up to the overall score's standard, while defenders say that it's a pleasant tune and does a good explores interesting dynamics between parents and children.
  • "Common Knowledge":
    • It became quite common to drag the show on Twitter, especially after the release of the movie's trailer, for Evan supposedly lying about knowing a boy who committed suicide just to get in his sister's pants. Of course, his true motivations are actually much more complicated and that while there's a lot of moral ambiguity regarding the decision, the initial lie comes from a genuinely sympathetic place (regardless of which Alternate Character Interpretation listed above you go with, Evan didn't actually plan the lie and wasn't considering Zoe or his crush on her when he told it).
    • There was also a Twitter phenomenon when the trailer was released where a surprising number of people assumed that Evan is gay and DEH is a coming-out story, à la Love, Simon.
  • Critical Dissonance: The film has a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, less than half the 60% rating required for a Fresh rating, but has an 88% audience approval rating based on over 1,000 ratings.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Connor's not evil, but a lot of fans seem to forget that he was abusive towards Zoe, not to mention a huge jerk to everyone else (though his Heel Realization in the novel allows him to get better). He's deserving of sympathy, sure, and he definitely had some issues, but he was no saint.
    • Somehow, the fact that Evan spends the entire musical manipulating everyone around him (albeit for understandable and sympathetic reasons) for his own gain is usually overlooked, and he's generally characterized as a Pure Cinnamon Roll. Though the contentious discourse related to The Movie (particularly by those unfamiliar with the musical) took this so far in the other direction that it practically reaches Ron the Death Eater levels, with it being not uncommon to see Evan characterized as The Sociopath.
    • Jared, to a downplayed extent. People do acknowledge his Jerkass tendencies, but it's often defended as a front for his loneliness, even though he was still unnecessarily provocative towards Evan and Connor and highly complicit in the manipulation process.
  • Ending Aversion: Some people have ignored the ending where Zoe forgives Evan for lying to her and her family, believing that apology was undeserved, and that Evan got away easily with his manipulations.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Both Jared and Alana are really popular among fans, despite them being secondary characters. Ghost!Connor also has a lot of fans.
  • Fanon:
    • Connor being gay or bisexual is agreed on by at least 80% of the fandom, especially on Tumblr. This is confirmed in the novel, but the canonicity of that adaptation is still hotly debated.
    • It's pretty much unanimously agreed (again, especially on Tumblr) that Jared is gay, which became Ascended Fanon in the movie.
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • How Connor and Evan's friendship might have been. Many pieces of fanart, writing, etc., have Evan palling around with Connor, whether Connor's alive or a ghost.
    • How things might have gone if the play had a more supernatural take, with more of a focus on Connor's ghost bonding with Evan due to Evan being the only one he can interact with?
    • Since Evan's not actually singing In-Universe, we don't really know what he said in that five minute speech that turned him into a national hero. There are multiple fanfics that are literally just personal interpretations on what Evan might have really said.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Connor/Evan. Having Evan hastily clarify that they weren't gay in "Sincerely, Me" only added fuel to the fire. Also: Evan/Jared, Evan/Connor/Jared, and Zoe/Alana. Every possible pairing that is not canon is far more popular among the fandom than the canon Zoe/Evan. However, unlike other examples of this, Die for Our Ship isn't really invoked for the most part; many AU fanfics have Zoe as a supportive sister/friend to the other characters as they form a relationship of their own.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, due to Dear Evan Hansen's Tony sweep snubbing Great Comet in the eyes of many fans, and arguably kicking off the chain of events that led to Great Comet's closure. Granted, Great Comet was truly done in by a later controversy, and it's debatable how much winning the Tony would've made a show that's infamously weird and hard to get into a mainstream hit.
    • Less vitriolic than the above, but many fans of Come From Away are not happy to have lost the Tony to this show—though Come From Away did at least manage to keep running afterwards, so there's less animosity there. A live stage recording of Come From Away premiering on Apple TV+ the same month as the Hansen film's release (just as the latter gained significant attention coming out of its festival debut) revived the rivalry accordingly.
    • Fans of Next to Normal either love the show due to the similarities, or hate it for that very reason.
    • Despite the Friendly Fandoms listed below, some Be More Chill fans clash with Dear Evan Hansen fans due to how both shows tackle similar themes, but Hansen received critical praise and a Tony sweep that's led to a fairly long Broadway run while Chill had negative reviews, only got one Tony nomination and only lasted five months on Broadway. Common points of contention are which show tackles mental health better, which has the better love story, and whether it's better to tackle these heavy subjects with Hansen's heavy realism or Chill's comedic tone.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • With Heathers, due to both being quirky musicals revolving around a suicide. note 
    • With Be More Chill due to both revolving around a blue-clad teen who goes from awkward loser to schoolwide sensation through unusual means, while abandoning their unpopular main friend in the process. (This also goes for why they're friendly with the Heathers fandom.)
  • He Really Can Act: Previously, Ben Platt was best known for Pitch Perfect. There's a reason he became one of the youngest people ever to win the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Dear Evan Hansen—his work in it is heartwrenching. Neil Patrick Harris was one of many to comment on how physically strenuous Platt's performance was, that it's almost technically impossible to sing clearly enough to fill a live theater while actually sobbing and crying the way he does in "Words Fail", and he pulled it off consistently in performance after performance.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: One part of "Sincerely, Me" has Connor and Evan sing that they aren't gay. As it turns out, Ben Platt, who played Evan in the original run, actually is gay. The humor has escalated with the news that four of the actors who've played Evan are dating each other — Ben Platt is dating his successor in the Broadway cast, Noah Galvin, and the third Broadway Evan, Taylor Trensch, is dating the first Evan from the touring cast, Ben Levi Ross.
  • Hype Backlash: The show was a huge hit from the start and garnered a massive and vocal fanbase touting it as one of the best musicals of all time, so naturally, there are people who gave it a look and walked away unimpressed, often citing the characters (particularly Evan) as being Unintentionally Unsympathetic and the plot as being a poor representation of mental illness (though that particular debate has been going on since day one). Not helping matters is the show's win for Best Musical in 2017 over Come From Away and Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, with many audience members feeling the latter two shows were unfairly snubbed, saying the Tony went to the show that was trendy, rather than the show that was the best. (Some people in all three fanbases are still quite touchy about it, so bring this topic up online at your own risk.)
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: Applies to most of the fandom's ships, with a few exceptions—most notably Kleinsen (Evan/Jared).
    • Tree Bros (also spelled Treebros): Evan/Connor
    • Sincerely Three: Evan/Connor/Jared
    • Galaxy Gals: Zoe/Alana
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Connor Murphy. He's shown to be a pretty big jerk, but he obviously had some unchecked emotional issues.
    • Evan Hansen, depending on your interpreation of his actions.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Jared's "kinky" in "Sincerely, Me" has gotten a lot of mileage.
    • After the movie trailer came out, many jokes about Ben Platt not looking like a teenager began to spread. Following the film's mixed-negative reception coming out of TIFF, a faked Hollywood Reporter headline claiming the film would be hastily re-edited to "digitally de-age" Platt spread like wildfire online.
    • As the film's trailer caught on, many people who were aware of the musical but didn't know the plot all came to the collective discovery that the show is not about a gay kid coming out. Both peoples reactions to the discovery as well as just how many people thought the show was a coming out story soon became joke fodder.
    • One meme that circulated on Twitter following the movie trailer's release was to follow the phrase "Dear Evan Hansen" with the text of other popular letters from media, especially other Broadway shows, such as "Dear Evan Hansen, I have sent you several notes of the most amiable nature, detailing how my theatre is to be run. You have not followed my instructions. I shall give you one last chance..." or "Dear Evan Hansen, what to say to you? You have my eyes, you have your mother's name..."
  • Narm: Evan reading Ready Player One due to it being one of Connor's favorite books just reeks of a desperate We're Still Relevant, Dammit! that missed the mark by several years, with many viewers commenting that it fits a little too well with how the book has fallen out of favor with its unquestioning portrayal of nerds obsessed with the '80s as the true heroes of the world.
  • No Yay: "If I Could Tell Her" would be a cute song, except for the fact that it's supposed to be things Connor thought about Zoe, while still often very much sounding like things Evan thinks about Zoe. Or, to break it down another way: Evan is accidentally ventriloquizing his romantic feelings for Zoe through her dead brother and not doing a great job of hiding it, which means some verses kind of make it sound like Connor had a crush on his own sister. The fact the entire song is a lie at least means that's not how Connor how really felt, but on the other hand...the entire song is a lie, which is not a great foundation for a romance. (Admittedly, a lie that's supposed to help Zoe feel better, but still.)
  • The Scrappy: Miguel from the book has a rather gathered a rather tepid reaction from the fanbase for feeling tacked on to the story, since the musical didn't mention him at all and also for getting in the way of the popular Connor/Evan ship, since it's implied that Connor and Miguel were dating.
  • Signature Song: "Waving Through a Window." To a lesser extent, "You Will Be Found."
  • Special Effect Failure: Even if Ben Platt's age wasn't an issue for you, it's likely ruined by the hugely unnatural makeup job that will probably just have you checking for foundation in his hair.
  • Spiritual Successor: Many see it as this to Next to Normal.
  • Stoic Woobie: Zoe. The opening has her dealing with her brother's nasty attitude fairly well, but as "Requiem" shows, she had a lot of issues with Connor.
  • Superfluous Solo: Possibly "To Break In A Glove", which doesn't relate directly to the main plot and exists mainly to give a solo and character development to Larry Murphy, who otherwise would come off as just a side character (since the primary conflict between Evan's and Zoe's family is between Heidi and Cynthia, who are set up as Foils in "Anybody Have A Map?") People who defend this song's importance point out that not only does it give us another window at what may have gone wrong with Connor's childhood and Larry's misfortune that he was very poorly suited to parent a kid like Connor, it also highlights Evan's insecurity about growing up without a father and how this has been a major unstated source of tension with Heidi. It was cut from the movie possibly due to this criticism.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The cut songs from the movie. Most fans agree that it was a mistake to cut "Good For You" in particular, as it was the song that showed how Evan's actions were hurting everyone and getting some form of comeuppance for them. Many feel this would have helped convey the precautions of Evan's actions on top of what was added for the movie, but it lost something without the song's presence.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • At one point in Act One, Alana sings a reprise of "Waving Through a Window", hinting that she may be facing the same scenario as Evan. Sure, it gets acknowledged in Act Two when she questions Evan's fake friendship with Connor and reveals that the only reason she was invested in Connor was because of their mutual "invisibility" in society, but that plot line is dropped after that, just to focus on Evan's oscillating decision whether or not to reveal his lie.
    • The song "Requiem" has a neat idea for Zoe: she doesn't want to grieve for Connor, as he was an irredeemable monster in her eyes. And the next song after that squanders this unique apathy, where she immediately accepts Evan's lies about Connor having so many unsaid, nice things to say about her, though it's understandable that she would want to believe good things about her dead brother.
    • What would have happened if everyone found out that Evan lied about being friends with Connor? How would people react to discovering that the entire Connor project was based on a lie?
    • The novel that came out later essentially gave Connor his own Barred from the Afterlife/Unfinished Business character arc, with him only able to move on after he not only realized how bad he had been but also preventing Evan from meeting the same fate as him. While it can be argued that this angle simply wasn't thought of when the musical came out, one might wonder if the novel's angle or a combination of the two would have made the story better.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: While the film itself was poorly received, Amandla Stenberg was noted to be one of the best things about the movie.
  • Uncanny Valley: One of the main criticisms of the film was that the makeup used to make Ben Platt look younger made him look so much older that it took them out of the story.
  • Unfortunate Implications: Spelled out in this review by Rachel Leishman at The Mary Sue.
    During the crux of Evan’s problems with his mother Heidi (Julianne Moore) and the reveal that he was lying to the Murphys all along, Evan sings the song "Words Fail". The lyric that truly sends me into a fit of rage is when Evan sings that, unlike Connor, he had "No mom who just was there 'cause mom was all that she had to be", since his mother is a busy, working single mom.

    Yeah, that bit starts out as a complaint about his dad not being there but takes a weird turn into crapping on not just his working mom but the concept of mothers working in general. The show is just Evan constantly putting his problems and his worries and his mental health issues at the forefront and disregarding anyone else around him. He doesn't recognize his mother is struggling, he lies to a grieving family, and he manipulates Connor’s sister into liking him under false pretense. Evan Hansen is a villain.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • It may be hard for the viewer look past the part where Evan's plan essentially revolves around plots using Connor's suicide for his own gain, but they're eventually framed in a darker light and the truth behind his broken arm fully explains his desperation. When the movie came out, however, more newcomers and critics were turned off by the premise and found it hard to sympathize with Evan for keeping up with the lie for so long. The main point of contention is that the lie helps him get a relationship with Zoe, and his songs with her are supposed to be cute, but it's instead seen as manipulative of her grief past the point of sympathy.
    • Also, Jared when he lashes out at Evan. Yes, it's implied that he's lonely, too, but he still acts like a massive prick to Evan for the entire show. It's hard to really blame Evan for distancing himself from him and for calling Jared out on how complicit he is in the lie when Jared tries to wriggle out of it.
    • Heidi can come off this way to some, since her comments to Evan in "Anybody Have A Map?" come off as kind of passive-aggressive and backhanded, and her outbursts in "Good For You" seem pretty harsh, especially as Evan points out, she's never home.
    • Alana as well, since her lines in "Good For You" where she says she also knows what it's like to be invisible and forgotten are clearly there to chalk up Woobie points, but she's just as guilty as using Connor's memory to stay relevant as Evan is and Evan isn't wrong when he points out she treats his death like a publicity stunt, yet she deals with none of the fallout that Evan does towards the end of the musical, even after being personally responsible for publishing Connor's suicide letter online and directing a lot of hate and accusations are the Murphys.
  • What an Idiot!: As YouTuber Jenny Nicholson points out, Evan probably shouldn't have written and printed extremely raw, vulnerable, emotional letters to himself in the middle of a crowded library on a school day. It was only a matter of time before someone saw one of the letters, either by seeing it on the printer or happening to glance at Evan's laptop screen.
  • The Woobie: Evan. He has no friends, severe social anxiety, and just wants to be accepted and loved.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • Ben Platt's Role Reprise as Evan in the film adaptation raised eyebrows from the moment it was announced. While it's easier to get away with Dawson Casting on a stage production, fans were less confident that a man in his late twenties could convincingly play a teenager on the big screen. Sure enough, once the trailer dropped, many people commented on how much Evan looked more like an adult in a childish wignote  than a teenager, even moreso than the other high school characters played by young adults (who were at least relatively shorter).
    • When the film was released, many critics cited Platt's performance as one of its weakest points, noting that appearance aside, he did very little to adapt his stage performance for filmnote  with his more theatrical and exaggerated physical gestures coming across as out of place and distracting. Many also noted that since Evan's youth and inexperience with life is the major thing stopping him from coming across as monstrous, having him played by an obvious adult man flies in the face of that, especially when so many of his classmates are actual teens and most of his co-stars (who are also in their twenties) can at least more easily pass for teenagers.
    • Adding to this infamy, although the other casting choices in the film adaptation were generally well-received, many found it hypocritical that Platt was brought back to reprise his role as Evan from the original show note  while the rest of the original actors were not brought back with him, despite their performances (especially Rachel Bay Jones as Heidi, who won a Tony for her performance just as Platt did) being equally acclaimed.


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