Allison Williams stars as Peter Pan in a live production that will air on NBC tonight (Dec. 4). (Photo: NBC)

Allison Williams stars as Peter Pan in a live production that will air on NBC tonight (Dec. 4). (Photo: NBC)

Allison Williams may be putting her young career on the line with her performance tonight in the NBC special “Peter Pan.” By this time tomorrow, she may be the face that launches countless Internet memes and social media snark.

Williams, 26, has the misfortune to star in the hit HBO show “Girls.” She plays Marnie Marie Michaels the BFF of Lena Dunham’s character Hannah.

Marnie is the sexy, seriously brainy and responsible one in the group, and Williams has received critical acclaim for the role.

But the show is all about jaded twenty-somethings who view the world around them, in this case New York City, with a snarky, cynical eye. Should she expect fans of the show to view “Peter Pan” in any other way?

Part of the problem is the fact that the role is so iconic. The character first appeared on stage in 1904 and they story has been reprised almost every decade since.

Most notably, it was adapted as a Broadway musical in 1950 with music by Leonard Berstein. Mary Martin played Peter and defined the role.

The “Peter Pan” that probably sticks in most peoples’ minds is the 1953 Disney animated film, which became a classic.

Peter Pan was revived on Broadway in 1954 with Martin again in the lead role and Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook. They both won Tony Awards. Sandy Duncan and Cathy Rigby reprised the role on Broadway from from 1979 (Duncan) through four revivals in the 1990s (Rigby).

Then, NBC announced in January that it would film a new version with Williams in the lead. The show is a follow-up to NBC’s successful remake last year of “The Sound of Music.”

More than 18.6 million viewers tuned in, making it the most-watched show of the night. It racked up a 4.6 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic, topped only by “The Big Bang Theory.”

The show, however, popularized a new television blood sport, “hate-watching.”

“I will say this about last year: today’s audiences like to watch things cynically,” she told The Daily Beast, a Hollywood industry Web site.

“Hate-watching is a thing. It’s a whole way of watching something, and it’s not an audience that’s natural to a non-cynical performance. ‘Peter Pan,’ you cannot watch cynically. If you do, you’re going to hate it, no question. It falls apart instantly.”

If that’s the case with the show, then what about her? Williams, who is the daughter of “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams already faces headwind from her celebrity connection.

So, will this role shatter her credibility as an actress? Only time, and Twitter will tell.

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