Please Help Me Understand
Smash Season 1 Episode 7
I need help. All of you are smart, and have big brains. Can you help me to figure this out?
Nobody who writes music professionally is stupid. I mean, I'm sure there are some, but there are too many people trying hard to make it, so I have to believe most of the people at the top are doing the kind of work most can only dream of. Music is intense and cuts right to the core of the truth and makes you feel things you'll never find words for, that you didn't know a chord progression could make you feel. I love music, and I think the people who make it - who write songs and compose and score - have a particular type of brilliance.
Nobody who writes fiction professionally is stupid. I mean, I know there are some. But I think it's more about writing to an audience, knowing what your market is. If you write a pulp novel a month, I bet you know how to do that more than anyone else. Writing is a terribly inexact science but at its best it can put you in the situations you know but could never find on your own.
So if nobody's stupid in either of these incredible disciplines, why is it that when they're combined it is SO TERRIBLE?
I didn't like Glee because it made its characters stupid fake cardboard people, the better to wedge them into storylines of the week with no memory of what came before. I caught flack for not liking it, but I know I wasn't wrong.
I really hoped Smash would be different or better, prove that there's not something about this format that makes it unworkable. But Smash is terrible; not because some characters are kind of off or there's a storyline that's not going somewhere, it's terrible because it thinks you are unintelligent.
Here are a few - just a few - things that the show asks you to swallow, in this episode alone:
- That nobody knows Ivy's mother was and is a famous Broadway actress. Nobody knows this? At all. Nobody. That hasn't been her calling card for years?
- That Julia is hunky dory in her affair for approximately 12 hours, until such time as she remembers the other half of her affair has a family. Then she runs home the day before SHOW DAY, when she only then has a confrontation with her son about her affair and realizes maybe it's going to cause problems.
- The show's composer, a gay man who is worried at the prospect of dating someone who has only recently come out, doesn't know that sometimes gay people do not appear gay in the way that he remembers.
- That producer Eileen allows Tom's (?) assistant to gossip to her as though he's doing her a favour, then reprimands him for being an asshole gossip, and then goes drinking with him, thereby negating any type of professional behaviour she tried to instill in him...?
- That upon tumbling off the riser in the middle of the show, due to her overwhelming adoration of Ivy's Marilyn, Karen is not immediately fired OR that she didn't try to do that so she could go meet her producer who inexplicably wants to see her and about whom we hear nothing for the rest of the episode.
Do any of these people resemble anyone you've ever met in your life? Do they make decisions that are in any way familiar to you? Do they talk like anyone you've ever known? "He is gay gay gay gay GAY!" Why can't we have a show about theatre people where they talk the way they really would? Bitch about how the songs are lame, that the creators don't know what they're doing? Debra Messing nervoused "actors" to get out of an awkward spot with her husband but I bet they've actually tried to analyze what makes actors so weird, over the course of their marriage - why can't we hear that? I know that in any given episode we are losing about 8 or 9 minutes to song but it shouldn't mean the complexities of being actual humans who have to balance jobs and love lives and you know, living, has to be sacrificed.
Yesterday I told Sasha she could watch 2 hours of Celebrity Apprentice in about 20 minutes with the amount of recapping a show like that does. This is the equivalent, I guess. Watch all the songs, which are entertaining, and that's about 10 minutes. Assume everyone in everything but the last three scenes is speaking dialogue that would never be spoken by anyone, and then watch them sum it up at the end of each episode, even though it will be undone next week. I bet I could get through it in 19 minutes.
And yet - there's something compelling. They're doing the “musical” part right, I feel like I'm watching a huge show even when everyone's in Lululemon (although it's disconcerting that despite wearing the same outfit as one of the dancers in the show, I don't look the same). I just don't care about the masquerade they're calling “Story” in between.
Two final thoughts: who knew casting women who are 33 years apart as mother and daughter was going to be a stretch? What kind of vampire blood is Bernadette Peters drinking?
Also, I hope that as a series regular Raza Jeffrey is being paid per episode and not per day because that is the easiest money he ever made, rolling over in bed AND THAT'S IT for the rest of the episode.
Are you in? Are you out? Does this get to take up precious DVR space? And if so, tell me why.
Attached - Katharine McPhee on set yesterday.