Les Mis v Hamilton

les mis v hamilton final

Two musicals, alike in revolution-ing… Which one is the better? Today I’m joined by the wonderful Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages to present to you the arguments for superiority of two fandoms featuring real historical revolutions: Les Misérables and Hamilton!

team les mis

Hi there! It’s Evi from Adventuring Through Pages! Eve is amazing, and I’m so eager to do this with her. I am covering Les Misérables, as you can see, though it was kinda hard to choose because asldkhflsdk THEY ARE BOTH AMAZING. (Note: this is all, obviously, in good fun. We’re just both massive geeks. 😀 )

1. While Les Mis is set canonically later than Hamilton…we’ve been around a lot longer

Les Misérables was published in 1862, and the musical opened in Paris  in 1980 – its very first performance – and has been around and loved since then. EVERYBODY has heard of Les Mis. It has performed in 44 countries, schools all over the place, and 347 cities. It’s even been made into the 2012 movie! So I think that we technically get authority credit for being so well-loved as compared to these young whippersnappers with their rapping and odd dance moves.

2.The characters are THE BEST

Okay, so maybe it doesn’t say it outright in the book…but Marius is a huge dork, Cosette is the literal cinnamon roll™, Valjean is the best father figure, and the Amis- even though they’re totally epic revolutionaries- all have so many intense personalities. Javert himself is one of the most complex characters on the planet- like, he’s a good guy…but he also wants to get rid of the main character, so that proves a bit difficult. The Thenardiers are an odd bunch as well, because literally everybody hates them but they are also massive comedic relief in the musical & movie. There’s more adorableness and less sass-and-relationship-drama-and-battle-issues-and-people-who-are-literally-the-phrase-“fight-me” as seen in Hamilton.

(Also tiny Cosette is adorable let’s face it she is)

3.The style of music is more classic and appeals to a larger crowd

While there is a lot to be said about Hamilton’s uniqueness in music style, Les Mis has a more classic, traditional style that appeals to a larger crowd than just those who enjoy rap/hip-hop. There are love songs, there are angry stirring fight-y songs, there are saddening but hopeful finale music, and there are dramatic self-reflection songs that may or may not result in you falling into a river. There’s music for everyone in it!

Also, one of my personal favorite things about Les Mis is how much there are common musical melodies that get repeated over and over in different ways. Leitmotifs are a common theme in musicals, I just think it’s really evident in Les Mis and that’s something I love.

4.The fandom is kind of ginormous and also really friendly

Because the Les Mis fandom has literally been around for nearly 200 years…it’s kind of huge. People of all ages and backgrounds love it (in fact, the musical has been translated into 22 different languages)! And because there’s not much to argue about, the fandom as a whole is really nice. There’s amazing fanart and funny textpost compilations and fan-made videos of people singing medleys. There is just so much to explore that Hamilton doesn’t yet have (though personally I hope it gets there).

les mis fandom post
source: imgur

(so maybe it attempts to consume your entire life hahaha it’s alright you’ll be okay)

5. You learn A LOT from the book

I…knew very little about French history and their failed revolutions and basically ANYTHING until I read Les Misérables. So it’s a history lesson AND a book of ginormous emotions and pretty words all in one! I mean, we have a book (Les Mis is separated into volumes, then books, then chapters) on France’s historical sewer systems. I know what every character looks like and how much Bishop Myriel spends on his charities and personal expenses (15,000 livres, if you’re curious). I know that Marius Pontmercy apparently has “well-opened and passionate nostrils” (Chapter One of the sixth book of the third volume). I know that Jean “Jehan” Prouvaire plays the flute. Essentially, if you take away the fact that it is the basis for the musical and all that, Les Misérables is the book every fan wants- an in-depth discussion of EVERYTHING that happened and WHO each character is and WHAT they like to do in their free time and EXACTLY HOW well-opened their nostrils are. It’s a ginormous companion book that isn’t, y’know, actually a companion book. Let it never be said that you don’t come away from Les Mis learning a lot.

team hamilton
This is Eve here! MAN AM I READY FOR THIS FIGHT. *cracks knuckles* Although like Evi said, I absolutely stress that I don’t actually want to physically fight you or anything. I love both fandoms like crazy. (As you all probably know by now!)

1. The music and lyrics are AMAZING

Hamilton is just an exceedingly well-composed musical. And exceedingly well-written. Not only does each character have their own musical motifs; they also have a distinctive style of lyrics. It makes my musical side extremely pleased. *sighs happily* Hamilton just has such a unique style of music and lyrics and sooo many fabulous songs asdfjkl. They’re CRAZY DAMN CATCHY.

JEFFERSON: I’m in the cabinet. I am complicit in
Watching him grabbin’ at power and kissin’ it
If Washington isn’t gon’ listen
To disciplined dissidents, this is the difference:
This kid is out!

Have you seen these lyrics?!??? I CAN’T EVEN IT’S SO GREAT.

2. It appeals to a wide audience

Musical theatre people? History people? Students? Teachers? HAMILTON APPEALS TO ALL THESE PEOPLE. And it’s also brought in a more mainstream audience — I mean, you could hear its songs on the radio. And hopefully you will. It’s so great to see people who wouldn’t normally be interested suddenly LOVE something. (I, at least, have developed a weird interest in US history. *coughs*) I think this fact — the transformation of what is for some an incredibly boring subject into something everyone can enjoy — shows something very special.

3. Lin Manuel-Miranda is super cool

Victor Hugo was…a bit of an egotistical asshole. He thought he was an amazing prodigy. He probably wrote his own memoir under his wife’s name. Obviously I don’t know LMM (the writer/Alex Hamilton) personally, but he just seems like a Genuinely Nice Guy™. He makes nerdy musical references! He responds and joins in which the fandom! He makes stupid vines ! He has also written another great musical called In the Heights! He and the cast give us Ham4Ham shows with cheap tickets and free fabulous music when they really, really don’t have to. It feels a lot better to like something made by wonderful people doing wonderful things.

ladies of hamilton ham4ham
LOOK AT THE AWESOME CAST BEING AWESOME (source)

4. The revolution survives, as do (some of) your faves

i’m not crying there’s just rain on my face Les Mis details the July uprising of 1832, which…well. It failed. Everyone died. Yep. Hamilton is about the War of Independence in the USA, which obviously didn’t fail because it’s still independent. This particular band of revolutionaries actually manages to get its act together and you’re not (immediately) left crying. I mean, everyone has to die in the end because this was 200 years ago and even asshole revolutionaries are not immortal. But within the musical, a decent amount of people survive! Hurrah for less emotional scarring!

5. Actual history = SO MUCH CANON

Les Mis was published in 1865? ALEXANDER HAMILTON WAS BORN IN 1755, SUCKERS. HA. Les Mis is based on a novel? So is Hamilton. (It was inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography.) You can read historical documents; letters from Hamilton to Laurens, Jefferson to Madison, Angelica to Hamilton; the actual Federalist papers; years and years of historical analysis. You might even study him at school! (Alas, not I, but I live in hope.) Hamilton’s legacy is visible in the USA today. He’s on the 10$ bills. I refuse to believe there is more Les Mis fandom to explore, thanks.

thanks so much for writing this with me, evi! now it’s your turn: whose argument was more persuasive? which fandom do YOU choose?

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20 thoughts on “Les Mis v Hamilton

  1. Asdfghjkl I love both of your arguments! (And I love both of you of course.) I have to say, as I read about Les Mis, I got really excited and I kinda want to read the books? A little? And my cousin also starred in a production of Les Mis a couple years ago so that’s cool. But the books are very tempting because I DO want to know the little details about characters.
    However, I am probably going to see Hamilton soon because it’s going to be showing near me. And I’ve listened to some of the songs on Spotify which were great. And I know you love it so much, Eve, so that makes me love it even more tbh.
    Great arguments!

    1. Aah thank you so much! I’m super glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY READ LES MIS YESSS. I mean, like, it is kind of long. But also a lot of feels and asdfjkl I love it a lot.
      Yay about Hamilton. 😀 I’m still, like, crazy jealous because it sounds amazing on stage! I think it’s probably worth getting a vague idea of it before since it’s pretty jam-packed. (But that’s only what I’ve heard.)
      Thanks again! ❤

  2. AHAHAHA THIS IS THE BEST. I think I prefer the Les Mis fandom just because I’ve heard more of their music — I’ve been avoiding the Hamilton bandwagon because it seems like I could be seriously obsessed. Also … I kind of think there are cooler wars than the War of Independence. Sorry.

    PS: tiny Cosette IS very cute.

    1. AAH thank you! I can definitely see why you might not want to get completely obsessed as I have. Ahem. XD Ooh, do you happen to have any of said cool wars to share? I am always eager to learn of more. *nods*

      P.S. YES. Cosette is adorable and a completely treausure.

  3. So I actually have not watched or listened to Les Mis yet – though I hear it is coming to Singapore within the next few months, which I am enormously looking forward to! Nevertheless, I jumped onto the Hamilton bandwagon last week and have been unable to think of anything else since. So yes. I think I know where my vote goes. 😉

    1. (Oh dear, it seems like my comment never sent! I APOLOGISE FOR THE LATENESS OF IT.)
      Woah, that’s wonderful about Les Mis! But I can definitely see why you would choose Hamilton. 😉 It is rather addictive upon first listen — or, um, at least for me. I always seem to be able to find its lyrics in unrelated conversations, which is a very strange skill.

  4. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Hi, y’all! Eve and I did a little fandom battle (in good fun) over two popular musicals: Les Miserables and Hamilton! It was so, so much fun to do and you should definitely head over to Eve’s blog to check it out.

  5. Les Mis wins. It has one of the best plots. Home to incredible character and extremely powerful, emotional songs. Has heart and soul written in it.

    Never seen or listened to Hamilton. Just do not understand the hype around it. Hip-hop/rap just makes me just not interested in seeing it

    1. Another one for the Les Mis side, yay! (Although I wrote for Hamilton here, I’m an extremely avid fan of both. So I can’t really lose here haha.) And I agree with you about the characters — Victor Hugo managed to create so many original and realistic characters, which considering the large size of the cast in Les Mis is pretty awesome.

      I’m not a massive hip-hop fan either, but I think Hamilton is quite accessible! It has a few more ‘traditional’ musical songs too. But I totally appreciate that it’s not for everyone! 🙂

      1. I am also an obsessive Les Mis fan. I know a lot about the musical and book. I know that the musical takes place during the June Rebellion of 1832, not the French Revolution. I was able to read the unabridged book in less then one year

      2. *high fives* That’s wonderful to hear! I read the book last summer after watching the movie of the musical. It took a lot of effort, but it was definitely worth it.Yeah, I used to think Les Mis was set during the French Revolution but now I know otherwise! 🙂

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