Talking “Smash”: It’s Not Easy Being Green
If you’re reading this, congratulations! You successfully made it through the entire Super Bowl, another night of The Voice‘s swivel chairs and finally, the long-awaited premiere of Smash. Like any good musical theater nerds, we dutifully tuned in to last night’s premiere, with satin robes and chilled martinis in hand. Kiss the day goodbye and read along as fearless Media Editor John Gara—who once got pushed into traffic by Patti LuPone—and I discuss our thoughts on the show’s first episode.
Emily: Well, it’s finally here: the Monday after the Super Bowl. I never thought we’d see the day.
Emily: For those who haven’t seen the excess promotional campaigns, not only is this a battle between blondes and brunettes, but we have the experienced—yet constantly overlooked—chorus girl versus a doe-eyed Midwestern transplant with a supportive boyfriend and enviable exposed brick walls in her apartment. Who are we supposed to root for? The answer is clear for me: I like Ivy (Megan Hilty) more. Real women have curves, etc. etc.
John: I like Ivy more, too.
Emily: This Karen (Katharine McPhee) story is the one you’re expected to root for. She’s from Iowa! Her parents don’t approve of her lifestyle!
John: It took them a long time to get over the fact that she’s dating an al-Qaeda sleeper cell. Right? Is that what their building up to with his character?
Emily: That 24 spin-off finally sees the light of day.
John: IVY’S THE LEA MICHELE. The obvious choice for a role who is always DENIED.
Emily: Auditioning time and again and repeatedly getting shunned to the ensemble. Broadway performers don’t get enough credit. Eight shows a week That’s the real struggle, not waitressing at 24-years-old and going home to a loving foreigner.
John: Is it a coincidence that both IVY and LEA are three letter names? I bet Ivy has a first name last name, too.
Emily: Ivy Chantal.
John: CHANTAL is a first name and the “CH” of Chantal is like the “CH” of Michelle, so IVY CHANTAL = LEA MICHELLE.
Emily: (I always knew I could count on you to help with my phonics.) I have some good instincts—can’t you see it in lights?
John: YES. Someone on the staff of Smash worked in the production of Spring Awakening.
Emily: Too bad there can’t be an onstage deflowering, unless we’re going way back to Marilyn’s infancy.
John: Ivy ultimately won’t get the role and is forced to take a gig on a TV show with singing and dancing.
Emily: People will doubt it, but it will surprisingly successful.
John: The show will be called A CAPELLA.
Emily: Call us, Ryan Murphy. But wait! We almost forgot to acknowledge that the first 30 minutes of the premiere focus on reintroducing us to
Grace Adler Debra Messing in the role of Julia Houston, an accomplished Broadway auteur.
John: Shit Grace Adler says: “He’s totally straight.”
Emily: Years later she’s found her new Will in the form of her writing partner, Bitchy Tom
John: And a plethora of bad knits and dumpy clothes.
Emily: Scene: The powerful wife who has to juggle a successful and fabulous career and come home to a handsome husband who just wants her around more. Didn’t they already make a movie about this?
John: Devil Wears Prada. There’s also there’s some Showgirls vibes in this.
Emily: And it’s ugly stepsister I Don’t Know How She Does It. And Real Housewives (wig pulling).
John: Their adoption seems really pointless. Who would let them bring a baby into their dark, gray apartment. I HATE ALL APARTMENT SCENES! I want everyone in dance belts and warm-up clothes, and I want dance bars and mirrors and rehearsal space windowssss.
Emily: That’s what bugged me most about this episode. I understand that they’re trying to set up multiple conflicts (work vs. home, particularly) across the cast, but it’s boring and her husband is so naggy. Can’t the cute assistant break out into a tap number already?
John: I want everyone who is not involved in the production of Marilyn to die.
Emily: And everybody is so negative about the idea of an “original” musical. You can only bring Anything Goes back so many times. For the love of Harvey Weinstein, do you really think a Marilyn Monroe musical would do well?
John: I could see it doing well if they did a Grey Gardens-esque thing. Where two actresses played Marilyn/Norma Jean.
Emily: Katy Perry’s available! It seems like what’s done well in the last year or so is the really super inventive, crazy, abnormal stuff (i.e. Book of Mormon) or frontloading a so-so show with big stars (How to Succeed). But not inventive to the point of fatal (Spider-Man).
John: Right. I think if Marilyn served up full frontal or some kind of cabaret thing it would do well. A la Nomi Malone in Goddess. A “baseball number” seems to me like it would be Broadway poison.
Emily: Damn Yankees? But that had at least one cabaret-esque number (Gwen Verdon <3).
John: Everyone has committed Marilyn Monroe’s IMDB to memory.
Emily: That’s what happens when you Internet late into the night while your grouchy husband dreams of adoption papers.
John: I like my Broadway lyricists living alone with only cats. Not all this married with a husband and adoption baby on the way stuff. At least 10 cats.
Emily: If she’s dressing like Liz Lemon, she might as well complete the lifestyle: night cheese.
John: Cats named after famous Broadway composers?
Emily: Aye, you win (even if he was a director/choreographer). [Jazz hands.]
John: Why all the freak-out about their initial clip going viral? To be fair, posting a video on YouLenz virtually guarantees no one will see it.
Emily: Unless it’s a theater-only file sharing service secretly run by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
John: She should be glad the fashion blogs aren’t talking about her.
Emily: Oooh a Spider-Man reference! Maiming people! Smash: Not concerned about making friends in the Broadway community.
John: Take that TAYMOR.
Emily: Cut to the grumpy British director who can’t be bothered to audition for a job. Basically we’re supposed to assume all Brits are “nasty little buggers” (how’s my accent?). He WISHES he discovered Kristin Chenoweth.
John: Somewhere in the Smash writers room there is a large cork board with the names LUPONE, CHENOWITH and MENZEL with lots of strings attached. Then there is a piece of paper in the trash that says “Tyne Daly.”
Emily: And of course Broadway’s biggest star: Nick Jonas.
John: Tom and British dude are gonna hook up.
Emily: I think they have a past. He’s so giving me Peter Gallagher in Center Stage.
John: She’s got candy in her shoes tonight. The set in her dream sequence seems a little sparse, though.
Emily: Even the subconscious is affected in the recession. But is she visiting them on the diamond or are they in da club?
John: They blew the budget on sparkle baseball outfits.
Emily: Which has got to be distracting to pitchers.
John: She also full out said “penis, hot dogs, cracker jacks.” He’s not into your jelly, Ivy.
Emily: She’s just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to
love hire her. Sorry, but I love this performance, if only because it took 30 minutes to get here. But alas, they need to bring in another ringer for auditions—gentleman prefer brunettes?
John: I want more power gays. It’s too conventional with the pervy director.
Emily: Pervy BRITISH director.
John: Yeah ZZZZZ.
Emily: I thought we were cool with England—we all watched the Royal Wedding? Why the hate? He’s really a poor man’s somebody, but I can’t put my finger on the name…
John: Andrew Lloyd Webber, we all know his reputation as a lecherous perv in the biz.
Emily: How did you know I have a thing for fluctuating hair lines? Also: cat fetish.
John: You can’t produce Cats and not be a pervert.
Emily: Is “Beautiful” a good audition song? Perhaps a little overdone? I feel like Broadway nobility would laugh if you brought Xtina into the casting room.
John: No one will ever do this song better than Damien in Mean Girls.
Emily: Oh, John. You’re so beautiful. And know me so well.
John: If someone threw a shoe at her while she sang and she kept singing I’d give her the job.
Emily: Those tourists during Wednesday matinees can be scary!
John: So if Katharine McPhee is transitioning from Norma Jean to Marilyn, is Ivy transitioning from movie star Marilyn to pill-popping dead Marilyn? (And Anjelica Huston is just trying to hide the fact she’s a Hogwarts wizard?)
Emily: There is nowhere near enough Anjelica Huston for my liking. Right now she feels like a rejected Real Housewives of New York City cast member.
John: She’s totally beige. She needs to be the Miranda Priestly bitch queen we all need her to be.
Emily: Give the people what they want. Meanwhile, Debra Messing needs to cut out all the men in her life, save for the new assistant who is obviously going to be a star.
John: And her jazz band son needs to be an at risk gay-teen she neglects until the “It Gets Better” campaign saves his life. TOPICAL.
Emily: Last night a Glee number saved my life. Damn, wrong network. THIS WOULD BE THE PERFECT WAY FOR RACHEL AND KURT TO GET TO NEW YORK.
John: Which is the main goal.
Emily: You know I can’t resist a good diva moment. Did this final dueling diva duet give you chills?
John: No, but I am cold. BROADWAY LOVES a dual diva vocal. HELLO Wicked?
Emily: Broadway basically encourages girl-on-girl hatred. How can we fix this?
John: They need to cast two Marilyns. One is Norma Jean, the other is Marilyn.
Emily: But make sure there’s an even number of solos for each and that they both can get lead actress Tony nominations. Nobody likes a tense backstage area.
John: And duets.
Emily: Preferably on brooms.
John: Basically I am imagining Wicked but less flying.
Emily: And maybe Norma Jean was actually green, both literally and figuratively.
John: She was green at the end. Too soon?
Emily: It is what it is.
Thoughts on Smash? Let us know in the comments below.
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