Glasgow’s “Willy’s Chocolate Experience” Is Not the First Time a Willy Wonka Party Was a Disaster

Perhaps you, too, have devolved into tears of laughter over the massive failure that was “Willy’s Chocolate Experience,” a supposed Willy Wonka-themed event for children in Glasgow, Scotland that was so bad it has parents in an outrage and the whole internet mocking the fiasco. Everything from the decor to the costumes to the treats to the scripts the actors were supposed to read were veritable disasters. Even the promotional website was seemingly drafted by drunk AI. It all looked so bad that it’s tempting to call it performance art. It’s just impossible to describe how dismal the execution of this event for children was. Take a look:

But let us not forget that this is not the first time there has been a Willy Wonka-themed fiasco. Let us journey back to 2009, when a little episode of The L Word called “Lactose Intolerant” debuted on Showtime. In it, Jenny Schecter plans what looks like the worst baby shower ever for Max. Its theme? Inexplicably: Willy Wonka. This was during a particularly dark and transphobic time for the television series. And I count the Willy Wonka-themed baby shower among the many, MANY transgressions of season six.

But for the purposes of this very important piece of journalism, I did rewatch the Willy Wonka baby shower scenes from the episode, and boy were they worse than I remembered!!!!!! Here are some haunting screenshots:

Jenny Schecter setting up a Willy Wonka party with the words OOMPA LOOMPA DOOMPADEE DEE in the subtitles

Bette Porter saying "I mean don't children get killed?"

Jenny Schecter saying "NO THEY GOT PUNISHED BETTE"

Jenny Schecter saying "where are the willy wonka bars that you promised?"

Jenny Schecter saying to Max "okay here's your golden ticket"

Max is dressed like Willy Wonka. Jenny is sighing heavily

Tina sniffing a diaper with chocolate in it

Max with his face in his hands at his Willy Wonka party

I think the real lesson is that like many things in life, lesbians did it first. Another lesson: Willy Wonka is inherently terrifying? Let’s all remember the fate of the children from the original tale. This is a terrible theme for a baby shower. Furthermore, perhaps the Glasgow event planners were just trying to stay true to the source material by creating a nightmarish experience for the children and their parents. Again: performance art!

Jenny Schecter was many things…including the original planner of ill-conceived Willy Wonka-themed events. Pour out half a cup of lemonade for her today.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 810 articles for us.


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