ABC continued the fine network TV tradition on Monday night of shoving brightly-colored, star-studded live musical adaptations into viewers’ faces. This time, it was Little Mermaid Live!, an onstage re-imagining of Disney’s 1989 animated film starring Auli’i Cravalho (Moana) as Ariel, Queen Latifah as Ursula, Shaggy as the crustacean Sebastian, and John Stamos as the evil Chef Louis.
And as usual with these sort of things, the critical reception was … mixed. The production made the odd choice of flipping back and forth between clips from the film and the live musical performances, which some thought made for a disjointed experience. Poor King Triton wasn’t even represented by a live actor. Perhaps even worse, Flounder was portrayed by a puppet and didn’t even have a voice—wholly ironic, given the subject matter.
A critic for USA Today chalked up the “baffling” Little Mermaid Live! to being the “the most expensive Disney+ ad” when all was said and done.
“The first commercial break featured an ad for Disney+, a good reminder that viewers can, in just one week, watch the original Mermaid film (and soon, this one) mercifully uninterrupted by commercials or awkward song breaks.”
Likewise, to the absolute surprise of no one, viewers had some very strong opinions on social media and reacted with jokes and memes. For starters, people had fun comparing the original Flounder to the sad Little Mermaid Live! version.
‘Little Mermaid Live!’ memes
Others mocked the fact that during the music number between Sebastian and Chef Louis in Little Mermaid Live!, Shaggy wasn’t even wearing a crab costume, even as he was surrounded onstage by costumed dancers.
Even the audience had crab claws!
Others had, uh, thoughts about John Stamos’ performance in Little Mermaid Live!:
And on that note, this is just the absolute perfect usage of the Paul Rudd Hot Ones meme:
Others had jokes about the discrepancies between the animated film and Little Mermaid Live! (which had previously been performed at the Hollywood Bowl).
But in the end, if there’s one positive that everyone seemed to agree about Little Mermaid Live!: