Why ABC’s The Little Mermaid Live! didn’t live up to the public’s expectations

Hailey Le Roy, Entertainment Editor

On Nov. 5, The Little Mermaid Live!―a television special based on the original “The Little Mermaid” film from 1989―aired to the public, and the feedback was mixed, to put it lightly.
The cast consisted of Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel, Graham Phillips as Prince Eric, Queen Latifah as Ursula, Shaggy as Sebastian and John Stamos as Prince Erik’s chef Louis. Clearly, the cast was filled with many iconic and recognizable actors, so why all the bad feedback?
One of the main issues critiques had was that they thought to advertise the show as “live” was misleading. However, the show was actually split into two parts: the original movie and the live show. First, a scene would play from the movie; then the actors would perform the same scene live on stage.
There was also an issue regarding Shaggy, who played the supporting character Sebastian, and his costume. Many viewers were wondering why his costume was not as elaborate as the other performers. Every other actor had an intricate costume that did the movie justice except him.
Finally, Flounder was merely a puppet, which was upsetting to people because the character has the crucial role of being Ariel’s best friend. It also didn’t help that many viewers found the puppet to be disturbing.
One twitter user said, “the flounder puppet was [definitely] won out of a claw machine five mins before the start of this performance.”
When most people think of a live musical special on television, they think of the productions that NBC has done in the past. For example, NBC’s Grease: Live! or The Sound of Music Live! produced some live musical specials that have gotten significantly higher ratings and more overall positive feedback from the general public.
Kary Burke, the ABC Entertainment President, advertised that the performance would be both “spectacular” and “unlike anything ever done in this space and on television.” Well, this statement definitely lived up to the latter.
There were a few well-done parts of the show that left fans pleased, though. Some highlights of the night that were given positive feedback include Latifah’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and Cravalho’s “Part of Your World.”