Smash Season 1 Episode 6

So. About Derek.  I’m supposed to think he’s a jerk, right?  That he’s mean and terrible and maybe someday he’ll be fired?  That was the goal of the writers?

Because mostly I agree with him. I think he’s right about everything, which makes for a very weird lens through which to view the show.  Because nobody on this show, except for him, seems to notice the panic of having to put a show on in a week.  (Will that be an actual week?  Are we seeing the workshop in seven days?)

It took me a minute to see what bothered me most about this show, but it’s this – I can’t handle all these people screwing up in both their personal and professional lives. Utterly with-it onstage, and then making a mess of it before next call?  I totally get that. But  they don’t even bother to make it through 9-to-6 at a functional level.  I started having palpitations when the writer – the writer!  - was trying to make a new narrative on the spot, reordering her scenes.  It made me anxious, but it apparently did not make her anxious, as she spent most of the rest of the show trying to keep a stalkerish man intent on destroying them both from at least destroying her in front of her families.

Let me just step on Sasha’s tip for a minute, with the full knowledge that she’d agree with me: if a guy doesn’t respect your wishes and manipulates you into doing what he wants even though you’ve said you’re uncomfortable, he’s not a good person for you, for a number of reasons.  And I don’t care how many times you’ve been with him before or how pretty he finds your red hair (ps – your red hair is pretty), this is a negative, abusive relationship that is going to end badly.

We all clear on that? Okay.  Anyway, my point remains. If she wants to ruin her bland, lovely family life having an affair, that’s one thing. Although, let’s face it, they really are bland. And where was he anyway?  A science conference…?  But why can’t she get her work done in the off hours?  What was she writing when she had the affair the first time around, and how’d that turn out?  It’s true that angst is better for creativity than happiness is… so…what’s her problem? Other than she’s cheating on her husband? I’m one of the ones who doesn’t actually understand cheating – why don’t you just leave? – but at least if you’re doing it, make the anxiety into something real!

I mean, of course, her problem might be that “Marilyn” remains sleepy and boring, and the first time I felt a spark of interest was when they were singing “History is made at night” and spinning on the couch of impending doom.  Megan Hilty is playing Ivy exactly as I remember every lead-actress diva in theatre: tough as nails and eminently capable, but neeeeedy and whiny if there was the least sign of anyone nearby being able to comfort her. It’s not something that’s easy to get used to, but it is authentic. Ivy would have taken prednisone half a dozen times before this,  for whatever was the most important gig at the time. She knows what she’s in for (except the creepy bargain-basement McPhee-in-bad-wig-as-Marilyn would be startling to anyone).

As for telling Derek off in the middle of rehearsal….eh.  He was kind of being a dick, but most directors do in these situations, and you roll your eyes and giggle with the others and that’s how you bond as a cast.  You generally don’t call him out in front of everyone.  Of course, that’s all being blamed on the PREDNISONE – which, by the way this show was zooming in on the bottle and dramatically cueing music, might as well have been heroin.

Meanwhile, Tom, whose job seems essentially to be finished, is suffering from a boring job (right now), a desperately boring boyfriend, and an assistant who has decided to subcontract himself to Anjelica Huston who, again, unconcerned with her SHOW that’s going up in a week, is all “What is the world?! Downtown?  No kidding!  Cheap drinks?  I love it here in New York! What do you mean I’ve been here all this time?”

Even though she’s committing fewer sins than the Julia character or the eyeroll that is Karen, what is wrong with Eileen? She’s not making an impact either, not least because she seems to have no plan to combat her ex-husband’s dickery other than…shaking her fist and yelling “Jerry!”  It’s an easy joke to go for, but why is she the Newman of this show?

So we have Derek, and kind of Ivy, who do seem to care about the show, and Julia and Eileen and Ellis (evidently) and probably Tom and Michael who don’t.   

And then there’s Karen.

I am done, writers. I don’t care where she came from, she doesn’t give a sh*t about her career if she doesn’t know A) that Jewish culture and songs often come up in the world of show business, or B) the names of producers who give her coworkers orgasms, or C) that learning the name of your honoree is considered to be an essential part of being a professional performer.  She’s unsympathetic, she’s willfully ignorant, and she can’t even feign shock at her credit card statement since we can SEE that it’s unfolded on her chest before she looked at it.  Everything about her feels…fake.  FAKE!

I said before that when this show went on hiatus there would be a major retooling.  The question is will they know what to fix? I have a feeling we’re supposed to feel all scandalized by the gay guy climbing in bed with the straight girl to tuck her in,  which would be fine if this were, in fact, 40 years ago.  But without anything else, everything feels out of touch.

Oh, and gay guys like sports.  Shocking.

Attached - Megan Hilty, Katharine McPhee, and Jenny Laroche in NYC yesterday.