It’s hard not to get reflective during Homecoming week. After all... it’s homecoming.
Even for me, someone who admittedly doesn’t get into the sentimentality and theatrics of the Homecoming traditions, HoCo week at Missouri always did have a different sort of feeling to it. I can’t really discern what made it special, but I can say it left a distinct impression, one that carries over post-graduation.
It sort of reminds me of the way my dad always used to talk about Christmas and why it was his favorite holiday: “Everyone’s just a little nicer this time of year.” Maybe “nicer” isn’t the descriptor I’d use here, but it’s something in that vein. Hospitable? Energized? Whatever it is, it carries over.
Additionally, in years like the one Missouri is having on the football field, Homecoming can prove to be a special sort of boon. The festivities of the week and the response of the fan base adapts to the circumstances surrounding the program, delivering the pitch perfect attitude (or as close as sports fans can get) to whatever happens on the football field. In 2013, the feeling was devastation, and understandably so. In 2021, it was relief — relief that Mizzou didn’t blow an easily winnable game and actually walked away pretty handily in the end.
It sort of makes me sad, though, because 2021 could use a lot more Homecoming type weeks, where the fans are energized and content with a win, even if the final score doesn’t shake out to every person’s liking. That’s not to say fans shouldn’t expect the best from their Tigers or accept mediocrity especially when it comes to effort. But we’re now 50 percent of the way through a season that all reasonable people have realized is going to end somewhere between 5 and 7 wins, the latter now proving to be an exceedingly optimistic proposition.
Honestly, it’s not that surprising in hindsight. Hell, I read all of Nate’s previews, saw his tweets and looked at the numbers. Still, I wanted to think the canary in the coal mine was just singing a benign tune and not warning about the coming, “disaster.” I wanted to believe that 8 wins were on the table and a bowl game was all but assured. Now six weeks in, I’ve come to fully embrace the rebuild stage we currently find ourselves in — teased with enough glimpses of future glory to feel somewhat cheated while miring about in the muck that years of mediocrity (in recruiting and results) wrought.
That’s why I feel like we could use another Homecoming or two this year. Not because I particularly miss the party or because I want fans to be more content. I just wish the pressure was relieved ever so slightly week-to-week. And hell, I’d take a few more 48-35 victories while we’re at it.
The (Actual) Revue
Dir. Eli Drinkwitz
After two consecutive flops, Eli Drinkwitz needed to earn back a little goodwill with audiences who were starting to seem restless. It makes sense then that the director would throw what he knows and deliver a fun, inoffensive romp in the form of Homecoming.
His sixth feature of his second contract year with Mizzou Studios, Homecoming finds Drinkwitz playing the hits to an adoring crowd, primed and ready for a show that the cast and crew is happy to deliver. Sure, a few deep cuts get played here and there (it’s not often that Drinkwitz dusts off the Dawson-Downing-explosive-play number), but it’s pretty easy to tell when the movie works best. It’s when Tyler Badie shows up and rips a 40+ yarder. It’s when Connor Bazelak slings a deep ball to JJ Hester. It’s when Kris Abrams-Draine comes up with a pretty pick. These are the things the fans came to see, and they’re what keeps Homecoming rolling through its runtime.
Is the movie without its flaws? Of course not — if this year has taught us anything, it’s that Drinkwitz is learning to operate with his flaws bubbling to the surface. After a few hours, Homecoming starts to wear on you a little bit, a raucous show simmering into slight discontent when the hits run out too quick and all you’re left with is the memory of a show you’’re still attending. It’s a strange combination of, “is it over yet,” and, “isn’t there more,” that’s not particularly satisfying, even if the end result gets the job done. In the coming weeks, Drinkwitz will have to find a way to work around these weaknesses or address them fully... though it’s doubtful he has the personnel on-hand to accomplish that task at this point in his time as the studio’s top director.
Fortunately, Homecoming is enough of a crowd-pleaser that the flaws are pretty easily forgiven, If not forgotten. The stakes are certainly higher than they appear, but you’d never know it with the latest from Drinkwitz and Co., who turn in a production that is breezy, light and gratifying, even if it leaves you expecting and wanting just a little bit more.
And the M-y Goes To...
Honorary Lifetime A-Tweet-ment Award
The Toyota Camry. Full-sized and only available in automatic— Represent Mizzou (@RepresentMizzou) October 9, 2021
Props to Represent Mizzou here, I legitimately gasped when this popped up on the mentions. What a stunner.
Best Original Play
It was hard to leave out my boy Mekhi Wingo here, but this run from Tyler Badie was something else.
The man started into the abyss, said, “Not today Satan,” and cast him off like bad sin at the confession booth. Praise the lord!
Best Original Actor, Supporting Role
Lots of good candidates here, but Kris Abrams-Draine continues to dominate the Supporting Actor categories here by making the most out of his opportunities. He’s like Mark Wahlberg in the Departed or Bob Odenkirk in anything. Shows up for small periods of time and just lights the house on fire.