Inspired by NYMag.com’s brilliant Reality Index recaps, Dave (@NineDaves, www.NineDaves.com) and I have teamed up to bring you our take on what’s keepin’ it real and what’s faking it each week on SMASH.
We’re six episodes into SMASH, and we’re still not really sure who we’re supposed to be rooting for.
Is it Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee), the naïve girl from Iowa who doesn’t know the words to “Hava Nagila” but can sing Florence + the Machine like a pro?
Is it Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty), the seasoned professional who can’t stop talking when she’s on vocal rest, and thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to sleep with the director?
Is it Julia (Debra Messing), the book writer and lyricist who’s essentially sleeping with Brian d’Arcy James AND Will Chase at the same time (bitch)?
Or is it Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston), the producer who’s only really producing sassy one-liners?
We’re not sure. But we certainly know who we’re rooting against. And it’s not just Ellis (Jamie Cepero) anymore. Michael (Will Chase) has turned into a total cheeseball scumbag. We really want to love him, but when he’s doing shit like calling Julia from his kid’s bedroom, we just can’t get behind it. Also, his relationship with Julia seems based on lust. Why can’t he go back to playing trains with his son?
Although, we’re not mad at that shirtless scene…
We’re also rooting against Tom (Christian Borle) and Sam (Leslie Odom Jr.), who are totally getting together, right? They’ll be a terrible couple and poor pretty John (Neal Bledsoe) will have nothing to do but go back to his rich life with his perfect apartment and his supportive mother. Seriously – do guys like that even exist?
Apparently in SMASH they do. And if that inaccuracy wasn’t enough, episode 6 (“Chemistry”) was filled with more ridiculousness than usual (see: 90% of the Bar Mitzvah). Here’s what we came up with:
• Ivy Lynn puts on her makeup while Derek’s sleeping in her bed. Because she wouldn’t want him to see her without her face on.
• “$7 million – that’s not enough for a musical these days.” We agree. Julie Taymor couldn’t produce a birthday party for under $7 million.
• “When do they stop changing everything?” “5 minutes before the performance.” Plus 20.
• Derek yells at Julia because she hasn’t finished writing the book and lyrics yet. They get into a huge argument, and for some reason, Tom butts in, yells a bunch, and then storms out like a diva. This all seems totally realistic.
• Ivy Lynn is losing her voice. Maybe because she hasn’t been wearing that scarf?
• Ellis immediately goes to Eileen to tattle on Derek’s big fight with Tom and Julia. Straight or gay, everyone in the theater’s a big gossip.
• The team decides to put Ivy Lynn on vocal rest. This is often used as code for a nervous breakdown, so that kind of works on many levels.
• “A leading lady with vocal problems – no one believes that even when it’s true!” (cough cough Alice Ripley cough cough)
• After being told not to mention anything to Ivy Lynn about the possibility of being replaced, Derek immediately goes to Ivy and breaks the news to her. What a dick. We kind of love him.
• All Derek cares about is Ivy Lynn’s voice. “You can’t have Marilyn without a Marilyn!” Okay, so he didn’t say that, but we kind of imagine he did.
• Julia fantasizes about making out with Michael. We like that idea. We also like the idea of those chocolate chip pancakes.
• Leo is acting like a total dick to his mother. Because even though he’s the one who was arrested for smoking weed in Central Park, it’s still somehow her fault.
• Brian d’Arcy James, FTW! God we missed him!
• Jessica says Ivy’s on prednisone – a “miracle drug.” Though it causes “mood swings, insomnia, hair growth, hallucinations, and weight gain.” We think we saw a commercial about that one. Some people were climbing a mountain or something?
• Ellis is sucking up to Eileen like it’s nobody’s business. And she isn’t buying it for one second. Eileen Rand is like the honey badger of Broadway. She doesn’t give a fuck!
• “Nantucket? This time of year? How dreary.” Eileen is becoming our favorite character for one-liners.
• “Well Nathan Lane is coming. And the Nederlanders.” Plus a million!
• Karen Cartwright’s never been to a Bar Mitzvah. Because there are no Jewish people in Iowa.
• Julia can’t concentrate because she can’t stop thinking about her kiss with Michael. If we made out with Will Chase, we’re pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to either.
• “He sang to me.” Yeah, we can’t resist a man who sings to us either.
• Upon hearing that Michael sang Donny Hathaway’s “A Song for You,” Tom says, “I bet he sounded amazing on that – I probably would have kissed him too.” We have to agree.
• How adorable is Christian Borle in this scene? Plus 100 just for being amazing.
• Eileen Rand goes to a bar named “The Bushwhack” – which may or may not be in Brooklyn. Either way, she plays Big Buck Hunter, which seems like something you’d do at a place called “The Bushwhack.”
• Ivy Lynn has a Heaven on Earth poster in her room.
• Everyone in this show is constantly singing in front of the mirror. We suspect all theater actors out there do this. And sometimes, theater bloggers…
• Ivy Lynn sees Karen Cartwright, dressed as Marilyn, in her mirror. Mood swings and hallucinations! Jessica was right!
• At the Bar Mitzvah, the cake says “Mazel Tov.” What else would it say?
• OMG CARICATURES! Linda’s actually been to Bar Mitzvahs where there were caricatures, so this is totally realistic.
• Karen Cartwright was late because she couldn’t get a cab from the LIRR station. This shit happens way too often.
• At John’s party, Tom meets two of his friends – perfect-looking, J Crew-wearing twinks, void of any personality. “We were in P-Town last summer, just window shopping for fun. A house on the beach. Small. Cottage. $2 million. That’s actually cheap.” Plus 100 because Dave’s been at parties with these types of people 100 times before.
• John’s apartment is super tiny and a loft and perfectly decorated and kill yourself.
• John just came out last year, and Tom is seemingly off-put by this. Dave’s seen this a lot in the gay community. For some reason, gay dudes just don’t like it when other gay dudes take their time coming out. It’s sad and destructive and totally true.
• Ivy Lynn is freaking out, post hallucination. But she’s mainly concerned about getting fat and growing hair. Plus 50 because that would be our main concern too.
• There’s an Into the Woods poster hanging in Karen Cartwright’s apartment. It’s not artwork we’ve seen before, so we’re guessing it’s from some high school or college production Karen was in. Probably as Cinderella. In which case, of course she’s given it prominence in her apartment.
• Karen doesn’t know the words to “Hava Nagila.” Oh Iowa…
• At least they did the traditional dance for “Hava Nagila.” Plus 10!
• Brian d’Arcy James’ character has Periodic Table flashcards. Dave works in Chemistry and he’s having a total breakdown right now.
• Ivy Lynn doesn’t want anyone to call Derek. Again, because she’s terrified of the getting fat and growing hair thing.
• “You’re the straightest chorus boy I ever met.” We believe this because Heaven on Earth looks like a super gay show.
• Tom criticizes John’s apartment. “His furniture is upscale minimalist. BLAH.” Plus 15 because we totally agree.
• They’re taking the centerpieces! Ahhhh!
• And check out those glow necklaces/bracelets! That’s standard Bar Mitzvah flare!
• While everyone else fast dances, we spot one couple slow-dancing. There’s always that one couple that’s ahead of everyone else.
• SHIRTLESS WILL CHASE. SHIRTLESS WILL CHASE. AHHHH!
• THEY’RE DOING IT ON THAT COUCH! THEY’RE DOING IT ON THAT COUCH! AHHHH!
• Debra Messing and Will Chase are doing it in real life. Plus 200.
• Karen Cartwright has no idea who a major music producer is. As Jessica said, “Ugh. You’re from Iowa.”
• Ivy Lynn is a method actress. “Why didn’t I get her fired the first day? Marilyn would have done that.”
• Ivy Lynn is upset that Derek didn’t come over. But she also told Tom she didn’t want him to come over. But clearly she wanted him to want to come over. Girls are so complicated.
• “Don’t you want to know how I am?” Ivy Lynn asks Derek. See above.
• Julia has that after-sex glow. Plus 50.
• Sex with Michael cured Julia’s writing block. Next time we’re stuck on a piece, we’re totally calling Will Chase.
• During the “History is Made at Night” performance, Michael and Ivy Lynn find themselves on the same couch that Michael and Julia smushed on the night before. Of course, Michael and Julia make eye contact. We kinda liked it.
• THIS IS WHY WE LOVE THIS SHOW:
Ivy Lynn: Hey, uh. While we’re stopped, I have a thought. Maybe you can give me notes without publically humiliating me at the same time?
Derek: Oh great…
Ivy Lynn: And maybe… maybe you could remember that artists are not football players who can take endless abuse and still do their jobs.
Derek: OK. Miss Monroe is having a moment.
Ivy Lynn: Oh, well maybe a different Miss Monroe could do it better. Miss Cartwright? Maybe you could take a crack at it?
I don’t need more time with the lyrics. You know what I need? I need to stop sleeping with men who are complete narcissistic pricks. Oh and you’re not that good looking. And you’re not that good in bed either.”
• Tom laughs with Ivy about her meltdown a mere 10 seconds after it’s over. Girls! They’re so unpredictable!
• “Well that was quite a bit of unscripted drama today. I probably shouldn’t say anything but I rather enjoyed it.” Eileen is our hero.
• The Nederlanders! David Stone! Jeffrey Finn!
• We love how Eileen Rand is acting as if she discovered the L.E.S..
• By the end of the night, Eileen Rand is totally fucking that bartender.
Oh Hell No!
• Eileen claims she’s “just looking for a workshop and an out of town tryout.” We doubt that – every producer wants Broadway. Plus, didn’t they say they wanted to take it Broadway in the first episode?
• Julia uses her troubles at home as an excuse for why the shows not done yet. Seems a little immature, even for Julia.
• Also, Julia casually mentions that her husband’s been out of town. Minus 10 for not telling us where Brian d’Arcy James has been.
• Karen Cartwright’s credit card bill is $326.38. Even if you’re not spending a lot of money, that’s super low for New York City. Also, no college loans?
• It would not have taken Karen Cartwright that long to pick up the contents of her bag. Also, did they really have to conveniently all fall behind that piano?
• How did Karen Cartwright get out of that room without being noticed? Did she stay behind that piano until they all left?
• Julia has pancake batter all over her pajamas and her face. “I’m so not the cook around here,” she says after she burns the pancakes. Cause God forbid a woman is good at her job and also good at being a mother.
• Michael tells Julia “don’t walk away,” and the producers of SMASH miss a golden opportunity for a Xanadu number.
• Karen Cartwright is performing at a Bar Mitzvah in Long Island. But Northport? Maybe if it were Roslyn or Jericho we could see this…
• No bartender at a bar named “The Bushwhack” knows how to make a dirty martini. At least not one that Eileen Rand would so joyously drink. And $7? That’s too expensive.
• When Julia tells Tom about her kiss with Michael, he immediately reminds her about her husband and child. Tom would have probably spent more time asking for details.
• Ivy Lynn is on vocal rest. But she has no problem singing Jesse J. We like this song, but the staging of this number totally sucks.
• And doesn’t Ivy Lynn have a roommate? There’s no way she could afford that apartment on her own.
• The decorations at this Bar Mitzvah are all blue and white. Which may seem right, since they’re the colors most associated with Judaism. But, Bar Mitzvah parties usually have themes. Like “Hollywood.” Or “Rock Star.” No self-respecting 13-year-old boy would have put up with this shit.
• Stop talking Ivy Lynn! You’re on vocal rest! Stop talking!!
• Karen is being a total asshole at this Bar Mitzvah. Get off your fucking phone.
• At every single Bar Mitzvah we’ve ever been to, the kids are not dancing. They’re usually outside, goofing around while their parents beg/force them to come back inside and dance. So the fact that all these kids – especially the boys – crowded around to hear Karen Cartwright sing? Ridiculous.
• Plus, are we really to believe that all these kids know Florence + the Machine? And like this song enough to crowd around and dance and sing and shake their hands in the air? This isn’t Rihanna.
• And did Karen just wink at that kid? EWWW!
• Do couples really sit up in bed together, reading/writing? This is something we see on TV all the time. But in real life, it always feels like one person is hanging out somewhere else. The kitchen. The living room. Isn’t that real life?
• The band is eating after the Bar Mitzvah. We’ve never worked a Bar Mitzvah before, but usually the band eats earlier, during a break.
• Julia takes a walk from her apartment in
• Michael Swift continues to be the most ridiculous character on this show. And on a show that includes Ellis, that’s saying a lot. Case and point:
Julia: I can’t think if you touch me.
Michael: I can’t think if we don’t.
Michael: How ‘bout we just look.
Dave and Linda: How ‘bout we just kill ourselves.
• Michael tells Julia, “no one has to know.” Julia, seemingly, buys it. Which is weird because she’s a WRITER. Doesn’t she know how these things turn out? “No one has to know” = “Everyone will find out.” Surely something like this must have happened in Heaven on Earth.
• Speaking of earth, EARTH TO JULIA. YOU’RE ADOPTING A BABY! HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN ABOUT THAT?!
• John and Tom are walking in the Union Square area, eating ice cream. Gay guys don’t eat ice cream this early on in dating.
• Can you have set pieces in rehearsal studios?
• Eileen Rand always walks into the room at the exact time the performance number stars. Don’t get us wrong, we think she walks on water. But surely her timing can’t always be that perfect.
• We like this “History is Made at Night” number. But this staging is some of the worst we’ve seen since Come Fly Away.
• Sorry Ivy Lynn. Derek is that good looking. And he probably is that good in bed.
Okay guys. What did we miss?