It’s been a minute since we checked in on The Drew Barrymore Show, which—even after having taken clear steps to minimize the sheer, beautiful strangeness of its first few weeks on the air—remains one of the most authentically odd things going in day time talk. Case in point: Barrymore’s decision to interview the cast of Dear Evan Hansen recently, not as herself, but as her character Josie Geller from 1999's Never Been Kissed. Prom dress and fake braces and everything. Swear to god.
Credit where it’s due: This particular choice—i.e., reprising the role of a character who semi-convincingly infiltrates a high school as an adult—does not appear, as one might assume, to be an elaborate troll-job on Ben Platt, whose current bearded look on the DEH promotional circuit can only be viewed as an effort to distance himself from all those “How do you do, fellow kids”/“Reminds me of the girl from Orphan” jokes people have been making since the film premiered. As with all things Barrymore, her enjoyment of the original Broadway play, of Platt, and of the film, feels almost blindingly sincere, even as she cheerfully snort-laughs her way through questions to Platt, Julianne Moore, and a clearly very bemused Amandla Stenberg.
(Brief math interlude, just because it blew our minds: Platt, who turns 29 today, is five years older than Barrymore was when she filmed Never Been Kissed, despite the fact that she was playing a 25-year-old, and he’s supposed to be playing an actual high school student. )
And, you know what? Like a lot of Barrymore Show content, once you crack through the initial cringe layers of the performance, the underlying sub-strata is actually pretty sweet. (Also, Platt’s prom photo with high school friend Beanie Feldstein is actually fun!) It’s clear that the genesis of the bit comes first and foremost from the parallels Barrymore sees between Hansen and her own film, both of which tackle the dehumanizing effects of trying to forge a high school identity when you are also an obvious adult infiltrating those stratified social groups. (Whoops, started thinking about it again.) God bless this talk show, really. It’s just the weirdest damn thing.