Prior to last night’s Smash, NBC asked us to approach Uma Thurman’s tiny guest appearance with as much unbridled anticipation as those of Nick Jonas and Bernadette Peters. With so much buildup around flashy, non-series regulars, and such little reward, has this show officially transformed into Glee? Samantha Martin joins in to chat on the true meaning of a “diva,” in reference to both musical theater and Beyoncé, as well as the future for Bombshell and every couple’s chances for survival. Plus, we throw in a One Direction comparison. Did you really expect anything less? Read on for our thoughts!
Samantha: OK, I’m gonna start this sesh by saying that I met Tom’s boyfriend at a bar.
Emily: JOHN? You bitch. Am I no longer worthy to discuss things with you? Did he put you under a gag order? The fans of Smash need to know, Samantha.
Samantha: Hey, Neal Bledsoe! He said he’s read our Smash talks. I believed him, but he IS a non-gay, non-Republican actor, who pulls off the part of a gay Republican beautifully.
Emily: This is true. They’re not using him to his full potential. His skills seems to extend beyond ice cream-eating and looking nice in expensive suits.
Samantha: Which is already gives him a leg up on Derek, who rarely gets out of his sweatpants or henleys.
Emily: Style quips aside, I’m glad Derek’s stuck around—both for Bombshell and for a real relationship with Ivy.
Samantha: Me too. He keeps everyone on track by insisting that they don’t waste a day waiting for Uma Thurman (more to come) and gives Ivy some dimension, as well as some other benefits. Also he may have miraculously helped her kick her pill addiction?
Emily: The details of which are not important, especially to those who’ve also suffered with substance abuse. Just call the number on the side of city bus or something. Even at your darkest moments you’ll be able to drop the habit, no problem!
Samantha: Especially if the guy with whom you’re getting it on just had you fired.
Emily: At least they can joke about it? Compared to the other couples, suddenly Derek and Ivy are the poster children for only slightly dysfunctional domesticity. He has a key to her apartment!
Samantha: And an Uncle Vanya poster in his love den, which only works to set the mood right.
Emily: Debating who’s more intelligent gets them both going. See, smart girls finish first after all!
Samantha: Keep those heads in your books, ladies.
Emily: If Ivy didn’t have her very embarrassing “incident” during Heaven on Earth last week, wouldn’t she be working the understudy part while the mysterious Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman) chills in Cuba?
Samantha: I wish. Katherine McPhee is paint drying.
Emily: Derek seems conflicted in his choice—he can also only say “Cartwright” at one volume—but at the pace this project is moving, searching for a more suitable stand-in without a drug problem would set things back two to three years.
Samantha: They should’ve made Derek’s decision to go with Karen more clear. Folks tuning in for the first time will wonder why this girl (Ivy) who is schtupping the director, and who looks like Marilyn isn’t playing Marilyn.
Emily: NBC is strict on blind casting.
Samantha: Weird. And weird that Derek yells at “Cartwright” for not having a pencil but doesn’t yell at the chatty dancers for fondling one another.
Emily: At least they’re getting paid for it…
Samantha: WOAH. Still processing.
Emily: Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” has been used in a makeover-evolution-type montage before, and here Ivy visualizes her return back to Marilyn via one tight dress and perfect blonde bob.
Samantha: Cool but did they pick a ballad from the past five years out of a hat?
Emily: That seems to be the trend. The sad thing is it doesn’t really matter: it was all a dream (and not of the Notorious B.I.G. variety).
Samantha: You can tell because Derek was smiling.
Emily: Why can’t Tom be a performer? He’s a star! He’s definitely the character that’s grown on me the most, plus Julia’s a drag.
Samantha: I’m convinced that Julia does literally no work; all of her time is spent crying.
Emily: That’s work! It can take years to perfect a good fake cry without resorting to tweezers.
Samantha: The “Don’t Say Yet” number is my favorite yet, and the closest to real musical theater.
Emily: It’s totally fun—a little “Mr. Cladwell” from Urinetown?
Samantha: I was JUST about to say that.
Emily: Everybody loves the showpiece number of the slightly maniacal villain.
Samantha: It also has a hint of “Ya Got Trouble.”
Emily: Theater geeks, assemble!
Samantha: I’ll take roll. No, Tom, you can’t sing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” again this week.
Emily: This is the writers throwing us a bone since they know they’re going to change the plot and possibly title of Bombshell at least 16 more times this season.
Samantha: Tom really won this episode for me, minus the whole duping my new BFF
Emily: His reading the sports pages for the first time ever is such a throwback to learning the inane interests of your crush (Jimmy Eat World, anyone?) just in case you ever got a conversation opening in the cafeteria line.
Samantha: You never think a conversation with a guy that starts sports will end with him walking out on you.
Emily: Between this breakup and the potential that Dev could jump on an Acela to D.C. by next week, I may not be able to get out of bed tomorrow. Theater freaks need less obsessed friends to go see The Lion King and Mamma Mia with, free of judgment.
Samantha: Exactly. Everyone has their “Let’s go see Mary Poppins” pal who thinks you’re a celebrity for just knowing how to get tickets.
Emily: But Dev may have to make a move down South, if only to keep paying for Karen’s lavish aspiring performer lifestyle in a market that’s more appreciative of his skillset—or more open to workplace affairs.
Samantha: Or to hide his face after getting a beatdown on a the street by a theater dude. MAN FIGHT!
Emily: TWO BRITS FIGHTING. This scene was eerily reminiscent of the nightmares I have about Harry Styles from One Direction facing off against Max George from The Wanted.
Samantha: Why don’t people ever just talk on the phone? Karen’s “Oops silly me in lingerie” meeting with Derek could have been an e-mail.
Emily: Because seeing her man tussle with the man who likes to degrade her gets her off.
Samantha: “Sod” and “shag” were both used in a 20-second span. The British takeover is real.
Emily: If that’s the consensus, I’m surprised they didn’t bring in someone from the West End, rather than Ms. Duvall, who made a very diva-like (and tardy) entrance during the final moments.
Samantha: Longest cameo buildup in history.
Emily: And not at all worth the 41-minute wait. But what the network wanted us to take note of most was the presence of yet another guest star. Has this show officially entered into Glee territory?
Samantha: Only if she made her two-second entrance in the Pussy Wagon for the final line of the episode, or danced to “Single Ladies” in a football uniform.
Emily: What kind of actress parallel do we think Uma’s character is supposed to have? Who in Hollywood does Theresa Rebeck hate most?
Samantha: Let’s see, she’s described as someone uber-famous, and a friend to Sean Penn who doesn’t have much stage experience…
Emily: Scarlett Johansson? Pre-A View from the Bridge? (Arthur Miller connection!)
Samantha: Good guess. I’m going to use “goodwill mission with Sean Penn” as my next excuse for getting out of something.
Emily: From next week’s previews, we’re led to believe Rebecca’s inadequacies and overall high-maintenance personality will make investors and ticket buyers nervous about Bombshell. Having problems with an unstable leading lady is basically repeating the whole season thus far, right?
Samantha: Yes, but she is “famous-crazy.” There’s a difference between that and “desperate-crazy.”
Emily: That’s true. I keep forgetting Ivy’s always been in the ensemble.
Samantha: On the real, I think that this is the theme of Broadway: it’s impossible to deal with leading ladies.
Emily: Do you think the term “diva” is overused in theater, or appropriate?
Samantha: Overused, but majorly appropriate. Look to Beyoncé for further explanation.
Emily: By using that take, I think Eileen is the definitive example: “divas getting money.” Last night, she did!
Samantha: That was quite a stack of cash from her bartender beau. She also got a kiss. Finally, Angie’s acting like a boss.
Emily: What if Uma is truly a Marilyn replica? They say she doesn’t have any stage experience, so it could be a bit of an allusion to Marilyn working with Sir Laurence Olivier on The Prince and the Showgirl?
Samantha: She’s already traveled, and is in possession of an entourage that’s giving everyone problems.
Emily: Foreshadowing: Rebecca only lasts one episode before bailing for the third installment of a Michael Bay franchise, which leads the creative team to once again consider Ivy or Karen for Marilyn.
Samantha: That’s probably right. But what would be our dream scenario be? Ivy drugs her—with the leftover pills she’s conveniently got lying around—then Karen saves her life right before she keels?
Emily: She sleeps with Derek—he’s basically admitted to viewing this as a director’s right whenever a new actress comes along.
Samantha: Easy chorus girls causing problems for the rest of us.
Emily: And then he strangles her.
Samantha: D-R-A-M-A. DRAMA! Except unlike Mad Men, this is not a dream sequence. Has a show ever opened with ties to an impending murder trial?
Emily: You win, Don Draper. You always do.
We’re you disappointed by Uma Thurman’s quick cameo on last night’s Smash? Why is Ivy suddenly cuddling up to Karen? Let us know what you thought of “The Understudy,” in the comments below.