Are jokes and small glances of rants from Tumblr enough for me to understand what Hamilton is all about?
The year is 2015. Early autumn, to be more precise. My Tumblr dashboard had been the usual pop culture mess of jokes, memes, rants, and discussions. But mixed in with all that, I started to notice the word ‘Hamilton’ appearing as often as words like ‘Murdoch,’ ‘Rick,’ and ‘doctor.’ I figured it had to do with some meme I’d never witnessed the start of, some video I’d never come across, or some song I’d never heard. No matter the answer, I didn’t really care, I just continued with my ignorant scrolling, assuming the joke would pass as most other Tumblr things do.
Then ‘Hamilton’ became as frequent as ‘Stiles,’ ‘thrones,’ and ‘Bucky,’ and it was impossible to ignore. Some smiley man’s face kept popping up, often but not exclusively dressed in ye olde garb, usually accompanied by some other men I’d never seen before. Photoset upon gifset continued to circulate until I started putting the pieces together. But it wasn’t until I saw Jonathan Groff in all of it did I finally figure it out. “Oh this is a musical, isn’t it?” I muttered in my mind.
Posts’ context finally started making sense, even if the content didn’t. I’d vowed to one day look into it and months later, I still haven’t and am still not entirely sure what it’s all about.
It doesn’t help that, as a Canadian, my education on American history is weak. I can’t fill in the blanks in Hamilton based on actual history since I know more of the musical than fact. Which isn’t saying much.
The rules are as followed: I’m to remember everything I can about Hamilton from the various posts I’ve seen on Tumblr, without fact checking. Easy enough, right? Only you, dear reader, can truly be the judge of that.
Hamilton is based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, who was some big deal in American politics. I think he ends up being president. Or he ran for president.
The first act is a lot of fun and people are happy. The second act is not fun and people are dead.
Apparently there’s no white people in the cast, but I’m pretty sure the real people were white, and that makes this musical a big deal because of diversity. There’s also a couple of women in this musical, but more on them later.
Hamilton is a musical but not the glitzy kind of musical you may think. There’s a lot of rapping and rap battles, like Drake and Meek Mill of the 18th century, if they argued about stuff like politics instead of who wrote whose declarations.
There’s a song called “Guns and Ships” that’s super crazy and if you can rap it you’re basically a prodigy. There’s also a counting song, which is probably about Hamilton’s son growing up and there’s a part where he’s learning to count. The counting never goes past nine though, so maybe Hamilton’s son is nine years old. Then there’s a song called “Room Where it Happened” and I’m guessing that’s about Hamilton cheating on his wife (you know, the room where ‘it’ happened).
If I saw a picture of the cast, I would be able to point out which guy is Alexander Hamilton. I don’t know anyone else without a Google search. Hamilton is played by a guy called Lin Manuel, and everyone loves Lin. He’s sunshine and rainbows and puppies, and his smile makes you smile.
Hamilton is similarly adorable. I don’t know whether that’s because the real Hamilton is that adorable or it’s just because he’s played by Lin. I want to think it’s just because of Lin but like Hamilton, I too have come back from a war and seen things I wish I hadn’t. Never in my life did I ever expect to see people have a kink for the man on the five dollar bill and be so open about it. Lin is adored like the household puppy who can pee on the rug and get a treat for it; Hamilton is adored like a
gay latino fighter pilot from space.
Hamilton hates the government and Burr, and loves writing and sassing. Apparently he doesn’t love his wife though, he cheated on her. But he loves his wife’s sister.
Hamilton is a total ladies’ man too, though how he has time for that between all the writing is anyone’s guess. But he’s also into Laurens, so not only does this musical have people of color, it also has bisexuals (or at least one bisexual).
Hamilton has an inflated ego. He’s constantly giving his opinion, whether in writing or in words, because not only does Hamilton write a lot, he also doesn’t shut up. He’s often angry too. He’s told to “talk less, smile more,” so he’s the Grumpy Cat of the Founding Fathers. I think he should also write less, sleep more, because everyone keeps nagging him to take a break and he won’t. Basically, if Leslie Knope was angry and confrontational you would have Hamilton.
Somewhere along the way, Hamilton loses his son, but he never finds him because he spends too much time with his nose in parchment instead of his ear to the ground. Perhaps his son ran away because his dad never gave him attention. Or taught him to count past nine.
If Cady Heron and Regina George were actually men in waistcoats instead of women in skirts, fighting for the power of the country instead of the power of a school, then you’d have Hamilton and Burr, government frenemies.
Burr is the stereotypical politician, talking while saying nothing, all with a smile on his face. He also shot Greedo first, so he’s your problematic fave. By that comparison, Burr must also be really snarky and full of himself, with a disappointing, nitwit of a son who probably can’t count past eight.
I know Jon Groff is in this musical and I love Jon Groff (my Spring Awakening obsessed friend didn’t shut up about him in high school, so I became obsessed by association), but I have no idea what character he plays.
As far as I can tell, he’s the only white person in the cast, and he wears a really big, gaudy hat, like a party store regal hat. Groff’s character pops up in the play once in a while to impart some advice like Gandalf, so maybe it’s a wizard’s hat. It’s a shame he couldn’t use that wisdom to teach Hamilton’s son how to count in the double digits.
Too beautiful to be funny. Has sex with horses. No, didn’t have sex with horses? The jury is still out on that one. Secret lover of Hamilton? Jury is still out on that one too.
There’s two women in the cast. One is Hamilton’s wife, the other is his wife’s sister, who he had an affair with. These sister’s were really close until Hamilton’s affair is discovered.
Because Hamilton takes place in the 18th century, women don’t have liberties, thus their role in the play is small, right? Wrong. It turns out Hamilton’s wife is actually the star of the musical. Even though Hamilton’s wife is mad that he cheated, she still does what she can to make him famous.
Also, can you tell I don’t know their names?
(After image searching, I have discovered there are in fact three women. Whoops.)
Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and some French guy named Lafayette appear at some point. One of these three guys dresses in shiny bright pink and has an ego to rival Hamilton’s. I’m going to guess it’s the French one because ‘Lafayette’ just sounds frilly like the costume.