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Drama

WARNING: SPOILERS WILL BE LEFT UNMARKED.

  • 8.8: Has the lowest score of any Telgemeier book on Goodreads.
  • Applicability: College librarian Eli Berland compares Matt's desire to appear manly in front of Callie and Jesse's struggle on his role in the play to hegemonic masculinity. Matt is more obvious, as he claims that he's too old for cute things now and telling Callie to focus less on the actors. Jesse is more subtle, as he angsts over whether or not he should sing and perform. Both, however, realize that this form of masculinity is harmful and reject it: Matt stops trying to achieve masculine authority over Callie and Jesse dresses as a woman without shame and sings on stage.
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  • Awesome Art: Without a doubt, this is the most vibrantly colored Raina Telgemeier book yet: the scene in the fancy bookstore is the best example of this. Much like in Bambi, Gurihiru (the color artist for Drama) uses heavy, colored shadows to highlight characters and bring even greater emotion into the work. It's a bit of a shame that Gurihiru only colored one Telgemeier book. Character designs also veer far less often than in Smile. And many reviewers have praised Telgemeier for the little detail of Callie's eyebrows: they're yellowish brown, as that's her natural hair color, while her hair is dyed purple and pink.
  • Iron Woobie: Callie. Will. Get. This. Play. Out. And. Work. The. Cannon.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Bonnie is a bit of a bitch, but it can be pretty sad to watch her cry after being dumped and having the entire theatre troupe - including a teacher - yell at her for being upset.
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    • Matt can be pompous and isn't always the best friend he can be to Callie ... but he legitimately likes Callie and all his friends, and is in the shadow of his cooler, more athletic older brother, who he also competition for Callie's attention.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Many readers are only interested in the gay characters, even though they make up a fraction of the actual novel.
  • Les Yay: Liz is surprisingly affectionate with Callie, cuddling with her more than once. She even whoops at the opportunity to go to her house, despite generally being fairly quiet compared to the other theatre kids.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Mr. Mendocino, Justin's and Jesse's father, only shows up for one scene and never appears again, despite being part of the reason that Justin and Jesse are uncomfortable about coming out to people outside of their close circle of friends.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: A few:
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    • While there are many POC and a few openly LGBT characters, at least one reviewer has lamented that the story is still from the perspective of a straight, white cisgender middle class girl (although these reviewers generally do praise Callie for being a three-dimensional, well-written female character).
    • Justin worries that his father would be angry if he came out as gay. Yet, after the bookstore scene, we never see Mr. Mendocino again. Wouldn't it have been great to see his reaction to Jesse kissing West on stage - especially since Jesse also dressed in drag and sang a girl's role?
  • Unfortunate Implications: While the book is mostly progressive, there are a few blindspots and missed opportunities:
    • The characters never question that the play they are putting on (which appears to be a riff on Gone With the Wind) technically romanticizes Reconstruction-era South. Considering Telgemeier's attempts to create an inclusive cast and story, this would've been a great discussion of racism, even if some of it would go over the heads of the target audience.
  • Values Resonance: While there are definitely a few missteps, Drama has been rightly praised for its sympathetic portrayal of gay, bisexual and questioning teenagers. No character feels like a token minority: everyone is a nuanced, fully fleshed out person with their one flaws and virtues. And it doesn't hide from showing a gay kiss, years before other mainstream children's media.
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