How did you feel the moment you learned Ariana Grande is dating her Wicked co-star Ethan Slater? Shocked? Confused? Stumped? Not me — I get it. As a former theater girl who has been victimized by “the Showmance Principle” one too many times, I really get it.
“The Showmance Principle” Explained
“The Showmance Principle” is simple: The more talented a guy is and the more isolated you are in your creative process, the hotter said guy becomes and the bigger the infatuation. And I think that’s exactly what is at work here with Ariana Grande and Ethan Slater.
It’s a rite of passage for all theater girlies to experience a showmance (a show romance). And not just a showmance — a showmance with a guy who, in normal circumstances, you probably wouldn’t look twice at, but a guy with talent, in a show? Cue that GIF with the skunk and her heart eyes. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will have you in a chokehold the way an average looking guy with extreme talent and stage presence will.
Let’s look at the facts: Ariana and Ethan are two of the stars of Wicked. They’re spending an inordinate amount of time together. Ethan is extremely talented. He also dates women. Those factors alone skyrocket Ethan’s currency as a viable, attractive option. (Sidenote: Yes, I know they were both married and cheating is vile and disgusting and I don’t condone it, but for the sake of this article, we’re focusing on “the Showmance Principle.”)
Showmances aren’t new. They’re a tale as old as time. It’s a canon event: When you’re isolated in a creative space, working endlessly day and night, it stands to reason that love could blossom. How do you think The Bachelor even works, you know? Throughout history, we’ve seen surprising showmance after surprising showmance with people going, “Really? Them?” Take Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian. Or Pete Davidson and Cazzie David. Or Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande! You want to make it make sense, but sometimes the only way it makes sense is to experience it.
Unless you lived it, “the Showmance Principle” can seem crazy. How is it possible that some average Joe could potentially snag her? It’s economics, baby. Supply and demand. Theater women are traditionally horn dogs – I know this because I am one — and, typically, we outnumber the available men. So when that happens, “the Showmance Principle” emerges: slim pickings + talent = love. It’s clear that what happened between Ariana and Ethan is nothing more than “the Showmance Principle” at work. Long hours, isolated creative experience, open to love (as I said,I know they were both married, but go with me), supremely talented. Put all of that in a blender, and you get a showmance super smoothie.
Do you see? I need you to see. Imagine it’s the fifteenth rehearsal for Dancing Through Life and they’ve finally taken a much needed water break. Ethan leans against the mirror, Ariana comes to stand near him. He compliments her, makes her laugh. She giggles (because it’s always a fucking giggle) and looks at him a second longer. She’s never noticed him, in that way, before. But now they’re running the song again. She notices the way his forearms tense when he stands a certain way. She notices the way he really engages as a scene partner, especially when she calls him Bick instead of Boq; the way his steps are smooth and confident. She notices him.
And that’s all it takes.
One joke. One rehearsal. One moment for your world to be turned upside down.
It’s “the Showmance Principle.” Nothing more. Nothing less. And I get it. I really, really get it.