Smash Season 1 Episode 9 recap

I'm calling you out, closet Smash watchers.  I know you are legion.  I get your tweets and emails and they always say the exact same thing: "I hate this show - so WHY can't I stop watching it?"  I feel you.  I understand.  It's a slow-moving car crash.  What will they do next? What kind of paper-doll-people act like this?  And yet there's something like...I don't know... nursery school about it? People do the most obvious things, and it's fun to watch them get from one place to the next without any discernible reason, except in this case, Marc Jacobs sunglasses, and people who are good and wonderful and return them, and people who meanly throw out dollar-store sunglasses because they are mean. Hah!

I promised a game and I have found a game.  Not a drinking game, because there are plenty of those out in the world, and each is not that different from the last.  Instead, we'll figure out which commonly accepted rule of their profession the character is breaking, and how they feel about it, and judging by the previews, which say the words “gay” and “straight” with plenty of over enunciation on either side, it should be a party.

First there's Tom whose boyfriend - you remember, the one he didn't used to like, who now says with a straight face that "I'm a Republican" - spits that he hates Republicans without actually giving a reason, except for “the arts”, then decides his personal convictions don't matter and goes to the event, but only long enough to be called away by the prospect of helping Ivy, which he does not do, instead playing mental footsy with "I can't believe you're gay" Sam.

Career rule broken: Don't get so involved with actors when you know they are crazy, even though they make you feel needed.  Why is she your favourite one anyway? If you used to be roommates when you were in theatre school can we please see that flashback already?  Also, way to toss away your political convictions for a piece of (boring) ass.

Then Julia, who has retreated almost entirely into sulking in any scene to do with her professional life.  While Tom seems to have occasion to visit “Heaven on Earth” once a week, we've never seen her go there, or do any work at all short of that which Tom ties her down and forces her to do.  She does, however, set fire to her personal life all in the service of finding a new title for a show, so who am I to criticize?  So anyway, her husband confronts her infidelity by SINGING, and then she actually does some really credible crying.

Career rule broken:  Remember that, even though as a writer you're dealing every day with the best, worst, and most intriguing of the human condition, it will be the one thing that you've drawn from real life that your husband will find and immediately understand is a word-for-word transcription of your affair.  What's wrong with you?  Obviously don't leave work on your night table, first of all, and second, why didn't you know that he would extrapolate that this was actually your second affair?

Michael, who wants nothing more to do with these people after having been obsessed with Julia two weeks ago, gets decked in the face.

Career rule broken:
Probably none.  I bet going to auditions with a black eye can work well.

Ivy spends the episode doing a pretty bad After-School-Special rendition, but with giggles: the Marilyn Monroe was an airhead type, not the Helen Hunt on acid type (google it and trust me).   She's still playing the perfect, perfect theatre girl “star”, everyone's  conversation has to revolve around her, anything anyone says could be manipulated into an offense, she is special enough to have many prescriptions and wants you to know it, and she craves validation from a man who never actually talks to her.  It's scarily accurate, actually.  She ends the episode singing a duet with “Midwest Moonface” in Times Square, and then kicks Karen out of her apartment.

Career rule broken:
  While I'm tempted to give Ivy a pass for still being the only entertaining person on the show, she should have known way better than to kick Karen out: “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” still rings true, and also no self-respecting Marilyn wannabe would get a sidekick, it's just not her way.  But to be serious for a moment - you mean to tell me half the chorus girls on Broadway don't go out there with a little something in their symptoms?  Ivy's isn't just a career mistake, it's a grade 12 mistake.  Know your limits! Don't mix! If you're loaded, play it off!  Aren't you supposed to be an actress?  Also, please don't talk to yourself out loud.

As for Karen, you wouldn't have noticed if she wasn't in this episode, would you?  That's because she only really has personal relationships with Dev, and tangential ones with people who want to bang her, and this is a problem for the show.  She's also generally intolerable, treating a national commercial like it was beneath her.  But since it's Karen, let's limit our lists to a few:

Career rule broken:
What happened to your dancer “friends”, Karen?  You're so quick to drop them now that you got an orange juice commercial which I bet you weren't that good in anyway?  Everyone knows you need to keep up your contacts so you get more gigs, and also, you should acknowledge that you do or will need friends, since your two-lines-per-episode boyfriend (he MUST not be expensive) is going to dump you sooner rather than later.  Also, don't say "of course" when people ask if you have money.  It's like bragging that you got a national orange juice commercial, even though you think you're above it.  

As if I made up this construct for any reason but to yell at Ellis and Eileen.  Let's get to it.

Eileen actually scored some professional points with me this week by manipulating Derek and the gossip columnist to get what she wanted.  However:

Career rule smashed to smithereens, never to return ever:  Do not ever let your assistant dictate to you what they will and won't do. "I'd really rather not answer phones anymore" is literally grounds for firing.  I'm not saying they can't ask for changes and upgrades in jobs, at appropriate times; I'm saying nobody who speaks to you like that should be allowed to stay in your employ.  Also, put a damn password and a doorman on your computer and office, respectively.  You are too successful and playing with too much cash to allow yourself to be usurped so easily.  Start acting like a bitch to someone besides Ellis, and get some stuff done. Stop letting him think he actually can do what he's going to you.

And finally, Ellis:  You are nefarious and filthy, and everything that you do is dirty and underhanded and also not that skillful.  It's not that hard to buy a drink for an agent.  Agents love drinks. And, ahem, more.  But since it has done nothing but good for you, I'm going to have to restrict my advice to the following:

If you want to be an evil mogul who takes over everyone's lives, please start dressing as such.  our sweater vests still say “assistant”, not “evil diminutive who inexplicably runs the world”.  You might want to get on adjusting that.

Oh, and Derek?  Keep fighting the good fight, man.  This show ain't ready for the stage, and I can't wait for you to snark on the title next week either.  "Bombshell", eh? Sure.

Attached - Debra Messing at The Best Man opening on Sunday.