'Schmigadoon!' Leaps a Few Decades into the Musical Future in Its Season 1 Finale

The creator of the Apple TV+ show has some hints for musical theater nerds about where the series could be going next.

schmigadoon season 1 finale, cecily strong, keegan michael key, election day
Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key in the 'Schmigadoon!' Season 1 finale. | Apple TV+
Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key in the 'Schmigadoon!' Season 1 finale. | Apple TV+

Over the course of its six-episode first season, the Apple TV+ comedy Schmigadoon! offered Easter egg after Easter egg for the most obsessive of musical theater nerds. It's right there in the title: Schmigadoon! is a reference to Brigadoon, the show about a magical Scottish town that opened on Broadway in 1947. Co-creator Cinco Paul admits in our interview that there was some "resistance" to titling the series after a production that has long faded in the popular memory, but "ultimately, we couldn't come up with anything else that really encapsulated what this show was."

In the season finale, which dropped Friday, August 13, the central predicament of the plot is solved, but should there be another season, a vast knowledge of musicals will help you determine where more Schmigadoon! could go.

Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key play Melissa and Josh, two doctors in a relationship, who get trapped in the strange town of Schmigadoon on a camping excursion. They quickly learn that they are in a Golden Age musical and the only way out is to cross a bridge with their true love. Unfortunately, Melissa and Josh are on the fritz, and they have to brave a series of romantic adventures before they realize they are perfect for one another. Melissa starts working for the handsome town doctor (Jaime Camil) and has her own The Sound of Music, while Josh falls in with the school marm (Ariana DeBose) and gets a little bit of The Music Man along the way.

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Kristin Chenoweth singing "Tribulation" in 'Schmigadoon!' | Apple TV+

But, of course, they ultimately realize that they are the only ones for each other, and the season ends as they start to step across the bridge out of Schmigadoon. As they start their journey into the unknown, the chorus sings "How We Change," which, if you're deeply invested in the genre, you might realize sounds a little different than the usual tunes on which Paul, who wrote the score, is riffing. It has a bit of "Sunday'' from Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George, and hints of Stephen Schwartz shows like Godspell and Pippin. Whereas most of the Schmigadoon! inspiration came from the earlier eras of Broadway, the 1940s and 1950s, these are all shows from the 1970s and 1980s. Paul didn't want to reveal too much, but he assumes the dorkiest fans—myself included—can guess where this is headed. "I think people who are smart can figure out where the show would go," Paul says. "People who have a knowledge of the history of musical theater."

Paul explains that, for the most part, he wanted the Schmigadoon! music to "suggest" rather than "parrot" famous numbers, though there are exceptions like Kristin Chenoweth's showstopping "Tribulation" in Episode 5, which directly echoes "Trouble" from The Music Man. To prep for composing, Paul played through scores by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Frank Loesser, and Irving Berlin on the piano. He wanted to get a feel for the chord progressions and harmonies of the greats. "It was almost my goal to make this feel like it was an undiscovered Rodgers and Hammerstein musical," he says. "The more authentic you make them, the better the comedy and everything else about the show."

But Paul also didn't want Schmigadoon! to alienate those people aren't as obsessed as he (and some of us) are. "I think of it like the Marvel movies," he says. "You can enjoy these movies if you've never read the comics, but for people who love the comics, there's a whole added level of enjoyment. We're the Rodgers and Hammerstein cinematic universe."

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.