Marilyn's a 'Tomato'. Discuss.
Smash Season 1 Episode 10 recap
So the thing is that my PVR brings in the last 90 seconds of Dancing With The Stars. And I can't criticize that show anymore because it's so much better and more professional than, you know, the people on the show about professional singers and actors.
But this week's episode of Smash isn't even really about the ins and outs of being a professional, except inasmuch as you decide how much you like getting yelled at during the course of your job. This week I started thinking about whether or not "Bombshell", the fictional show, is a joke in New York circles. I mean, why wouldn't it be? People don't show up to rehearsals and that's no big deal, the producer has apparently never secured funding before and doesn't know that investors have demands, and the understudy for a famous, highly-paid actress doesn't know what the word DOWNSTAGE means. Why shouldn't it be a joke?
(The Downstage thing is a joke, because everyone who's been onstage ever has learned this via being yelled at, yes. It's just that it's usually your ninth-grade drama teacher who screams at you, Fimo-earrings flying, as she stomps up and down to write in your memory indelibly the difference between upstage and down, stage left and right. There's zero excuse for not knowing this, unless you are an amnesiac, or Karen Cartwright.)
Of course, this episode, and this show, but especially this episode, is all about how women are flighty and can't be relied upon. First there's that damn Julia. Not only does she not focus on her job, really, at all, but she's rude and dismissive to her partner who's carrying all the weight of their partnership right now, but she has to make an incredibly sweet gesture All Dramatic, like he wouldn't have known she was upset if she broke down in the car afterward? It's not the running out of the interview and the theatre that I despise, it's that when Tom goes to see her afterward he enables this behaviour, all “poor baby, it sucks that your cheating netted a result not all that surprising”. Who gets to behave this way? What does this do for their working relationship? Sure, they papered over the embarrassment of “Three On A Match” by saying it's the worst thing they ever wrote, but it's not like I'm seeing glorious lines of dialogue spouting forth in “Bombshell”, right?
But that's okay, because it's Julia, so stealing a phone from her son and waiting for a husband that never comes, because even though he's not ready to talk, she "can't take it anymore", that's all acceptable behaviour. Of course it is.
Then there's Ivy. Who's apparently in a long-term relationship with a director she might not like all that much (but who would know, since they only ever talk about work). Of course she can't appeal to him to help her find a new job, using the vast network of contacts they both have, or ask him to be her emotional support, or God Forbid, talk about why she got so upset onstage that she lost her job in the first place. Those would all be too reasonable. Likewise, she can't actually be nice because she's realized that not being nice can't get her anywhere; she's hoping to undermine Karen who will then undermine Derek - the man she purportedly loves - so that she can get back into the show. I mean look, I liked hearing "Breakaway" as much as the next person, but Ivy is supposed to be a veteran. Who understands that wishing and hoping and thinking and praying and fantasizing about looking good in a Marilyn costume are not enough to get a new job. Why are we making her out to be the girl on the playground who didn't get invited to the birthday party? Why do we remove her strength, just so we can watch her pout?
It's not like we have a role model for her in Eileen, the worlds' most childish producer. Despite showing one early sign of normalcy by telling Ellis to f*ck off with a dossier on her friend the bartender (which later gets obfuscated into a “does he or doesn't he get a finders’ fee”), she decides she needs to not only decline her investors, but embarrass them in front of Billy Idol Lite by sending their contracts up in flames? A show is supposed to have dramatic moments, yes, but they don't come from any particular motivation on this show. We never hear people saying that what the investors are up to is beyond the pale, or that Eileen is jumping through more hoops than she's supposed to. No, she's just petulant, and guarantees that she won't get these investors to work with her on her next show, when “Bombshell” eventually goes belly up.
And then of course there's Karen. That bitch. God, doesn't she know better than to make the best of a work situation? Doesn't she know she should swear up and down that she'll quit her show, where she is inexplicably gaining traction, based on some fantasy job or interview that her boyfriend may or may not have, but won't tell her about because she should automatically want to follow him wherever? How DARE she have a complicated relationship with her director, which maybe, yes, is based on a certain amount of attraction, but is good for her career? I mean sure, Dev does that too, but he's a MAN. With a serious job. It doesn't matter that he's having late night drinks with his co-worker, since that's obviously business. God. What a bitch. Navigating workplace dramas should be easy for her since she doesn't have a real job, not like the big important job that Dev has - wait, doesn't have, but could interview for, maybe, even though he has no connections to Washington, based solely on the word of a girl who wants to sleep with him. Who's probably lying. What a bitch.
It's exhausting. None of the men ever do anything wrong, and when they do, they get to apologize. It's flighty Rebecca Duvall who's holding up the whole production, but when Zanick isn't there, it's just explained away so that Tom can be in the show (which is actually fine, because that number was a hell of a lot of fun). Tom may, of course, be making eyes at another man, but when the guy he's dating spouts cheesy lines like "And you light up like a candle whenever you look at him", can he really be blamed?
In the dubious praise department, the end of the episode was the first time I felt something during "Never Give All The Heart". But that's not good enough since we had to put all the women through stupid choices and decisions so that they'd be able to relate to the song. Yes, the show has a number of leads for women. And that should be a good thing. But when the women in question are paper dolls who flap in the wind of men who rescue them and kiss them so that they don't have to deal with their problems, all the good kind of ebbs away.
Attached - Debra Messing at the opening night of Evita last Friday in New York.