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.
Before you start reading this week’s SMASH Reality Index, we must issue a warning: This week’s episode was hands down our favorite episode yet. So we may or may not have spent some time pausing. And rewinding. And rewatching things over and over again to make sure we got everything just right.
It’s episode 9, and everything post-workshop is, as the episode title suggests, “Hell on Earth.” Really, we’re not sure what these people know about “hell on earth.” It’s not like they actually have to watch some of these episodes of SMASH. That’s hell on earth.
Still, things could be going better. Despite the fact that Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) has a steady job in a Broadway show, she’s totally addicted to pills now and basically ruining her life. Derek (Jack Davenport) might be replaced by a Roundabout Theater Company director (jeeze). And he’s still stuck sleeping with Ivy. Julia (Debra Messing) may be the worst one of them all. Not only is she a terrible book writer, but also she totally fucked things up with Frank (Brian d’Arcy James). For shame!
But despite all that, the search for the next Marilyn goes on. If we had it our way, we’d cast Norbert Leo Butz as Marilyn. And Joe DiMaggio. And Arthur Miller. We want an I Am My Own Wife version of Marilyn the Musical starring Norbert Leo Butz. Although come to think of it, Norbert Leo Butz as Marilyn and Brian d’Arcy James as Joe DiMaggio could work too. And you thought producing wasn’t all about casting? We seem to be doing pretty well.
Let’s see how SMASH did on the index this week:
• Brian d’Arcy James would probably get us to eat bacon too. And we’re both vegetarian. Plus 50.
• Tom tells John, “I’m excellent arm candy. I can look very dashing.” We will gladly take you up on this offer, Tom. ESPECIALLY BECAUSE YOU LOOK LIKE MICHAEL STOYANOV.
• Tom’s boyfriend is a republican. DEALBREAKER. That’s clearly the worst thing he could be. Now that black straight-acting guy Sam is looking pretty appealing to you, huh Tom?
• Ivy Lynn’s purse is filled with pills, but then tells Sam, “Don’t judge me.” Girls are always concerned with people judging them. Come to think of it, gay men are too.
• Derek is openly mean to Ellis, and we like that about him.
• Julia tells everyone, “I hate chasing movie stars.” We know Julia. You just like chasing Broadway leading men.
• Norbert Leo Butz’s name pops up on the screen as a guest star and we both lose it. As in, pause the DVR so we can catch our breath. Plus 100. (Don’t worry – we’ll add more points later when he actually shows up).
• Eileen tells Derek to basically stop acting like a total baby about this Marilyn thing. “You had a fight with your collaborators and you lost.” We’re pretty sure this sort of thing happens a lot.
• Derek refuses to keep working on Marilyn the Musical until he sees a finished script. He also asks for a year after that to develop the show. “Tom and Julia need the time,” he says. We totally agree they need the time – and he probably shouldn’t have signed off on doing the show in the first place without seeing a finished script. But a year? If we’re in the same place at this time next season, we’re going to lose it.
• Eileen Rand considers replacing Derek with director Doug Hughes. Doug Hughes, meanwhile, hasn’t really had a hit since 2005’s Doubt. Unless you consider a bunch of brief runs and early closings a hit (see: Born Yesterday, Elling, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Oleanna, The Royal Family, A Man for All Seasons, etc., etc.). We like Doug Hughes just fine, but he’s not exactly the best pick. Makes sense Eileen would pick him of course – we wouldn’t say she’s the most forward thinking producer (unless you count banging a bartender on the L.E.S. as “forward thinking”).
• Karen Cartwright’s coworker is being a bitch again. Plus 5 because Karen Cartwright deserves it.
• Karen Cartwright books an orange juice commercial. “SHE’S PERFECT!!!!”
• All of the names Julia has come up with for Marilyn the Musical are about as terrible as the book of Marilyn the Musical. We thinks Julia be the problem…
• Holy shit guys. Heaven on Earth looks fantastic. We thought it was some sappy romance, but it’s clearly a Book of Mormon-style comedy. Consider us surprised.
• HOLY SHIT GUYS IT’S NORBERT LEO BUTZ! PLUS 10,000,000!
• Okay we’re freaking out a bit about “The Higher You Get The Harder You Fall” number we just witnessed from Heaven on Earth. First of all, plus 200 for Norbert Leo Butz’s hair. Second of all, clearly Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman just wrote Norbert a watered-down version of “Don’t Break the Rules” from Catch Me If You Can. Which we love. Third of all, Norbert is playing god. In our world, he’s had that part since The Last Five Years. Fourth of all, we just watched this twice in a row and we plan on watching it a few more times before the night is over.
• Fuck it – we were sick of rewinding. We went online and guess what – WE FOUND THE FULL VERSION OF THE PERFORMANCE! YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS IMMEDIATELY! GIVE NORBERT LEO BUTZ ANOTHER TONY RIGHT NOW!
• We’ve been wondering why Heaven on Earth was such a hit. And now we know: Norbert Leo Butz.
• And don’t think we didn’t notice Memphis’s James Monroe Iglehart backing up Norbert in that number. In a world where Memphis doesn’t exist, it’s good to know Iglehart will always be at the Shubert.
• Brian d’Arcy James is singing and playing the piano and we’re still trying to catch our breath after Norbert Leo Butz’s performance and now we’re going to die.
• Brian d’Arcy James is not playing Guitar Hero. Plus 10.
• “Do not tell me it wasn’t anything. It was a total betrayal of 18 years of marriage.” We kind of feel like Brian d’Arcy James is breaking up with us and it suuuuucks.
• Karen Cartwright is dressed in a green screen suit for an Orange Juice commercial. What, is she playing a straw? “SHE’S PERFECT!!!”
• Come to think of it, those sunglasses DO make Karen Cartwright look like a slut.
• AHHH! The poster for the Off-Broadway production of Once. AHHH!
• AHHH! New York Theater Workshop! AHHH!
• We may have watched the scene where Brian d’Arcy James punches Will Chase three times in a row. One of those times was in slow motion. We’ve wanted to punch him in the face since episode 3, so we’re clearly very happy about this.
• Plus 100 because Brian d’Arcy James actually gets to act in this episode.
• When Eileen’s having dinner with Doug Hughes, Michael Riedel shows up. Hughes tells Riedel, “I don’t want to read about me in your column,” which is something people probably always say to Riedel.
• Plus 100 for using Michael Riedel as a plot point. Power of the press!
• Sam tells Tom, “I’m glad you came.” Mmhmmm…. You’ll be saying that again real soon.
• Tom orders a glass of Sauvignon Barf at the bar. And he’s a total snood about it. See how opposite he is from Sam?
• Plus everything for this bitchfest about Karen Cartwright:
Ivy Lynn: How does she do that? She just walks into this city with a Midwestern moon face and lands everything.
Jessica: She didn’t land Marilyn.
Ivy Lynn: Neither did I. (storms off)
• Ivy Lynn enters her apartment continuing her rant about Karen Cartwright as if Derek had been listening to her since she left the bar. We like to think she went “wee wee wee” all the way home.
• Ivy’s complaints about Karen are so ridiculous, we actually love them. “I’m so sick of that chick. I can’t even have a drink with my friends without her name coming up. To be competing with someone with so little experience…”
• Karen Cartwright keeps Ivy Lynn’s sunglasses, presumably to give back to her. Plus 10, Iowa.
• Ivy Lynn throws out Karen Cartwright’s sunglasses, presumably to fuck with her. Plus 100, New York.
• Ivy Lynn still has all the Marilyn cutouts on her mirror.
• “Let Me Be Your Star” underscores as Ivy Lynn looks in the mirror and throws back a few pills. If there’s a better scene on television right now, we demand to see it.
• Derek calls Ellis a Chihuahua and we want to high five him.
• More Marilyn cutouts on Ivy Lynn’s dressing room. Plus 5 for consistency.
• Ivy Lynn is one episode away from her “I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so scared” moment and we can’t wait.
• Oh hey Sean Dugan from Next Fall. Plus 5!
• Remember back in episode 3 when we said that Ellis being straight was the most unbelievable thing of the episode? WE WERE RIGHT. HE’S TOTALLY BOINKING THAT DUDE!
• Tom looks so cute in his suit. We like to think that Elle Woods dressed him. QUEUE UP “TAKE IT LIKE A MAN” IMMEDIATELY. #LegallyBlondeTheMusicalForever
• John tells Tom, “I’m glad you came.” You and Sam have so much in common!
• Shubert Alley!
• Plus 20 for Norbert Leo Butz sliding down that banister.
• We now know what it’d be like if Norbert Leo Butz replaced Raúl Ezparza in Leap of Faith. And we’re not mad at it.
• Ivy Lynn tells Karen Cartwright that she “didn’t put enough on the line.” And by “enough on the line,” she means popping pills.
• Finally, we found Karen Cartwright’s backbone! Well, kinda anyway. As she tells Ivy Lynn, “Yeah okay. I didn’t sleep with Derek. You’re right. I didn’t do that. But trust me, it wasn’t because he didn’t ask. You weren’t the first choice. Sorry.” Of course she apologizes after, but we’re still happy to see this side of her.
• Ivy Lynn’s retort to Karen’s criticisms are perfect. “Please, my mother said worse things than that regularly at Sunday dinner. School nights too.” It’s always your mother’s fault!
• Tom’s reaction to John’s political speech is exactly how we feel all the time when people talk politics.
• NO BRIAN D’ARCY JAMES! DON’T LEAVE US! WE’LL CHANGE! WE LOVE YOU!
• Tom and Sam both find themselves on Ivy’s stoop and boring.
• We spy a Seminar billboard! Hey Theresa Rebeck! Bet we won’t be seeing any of those next season!
• We also spy a Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman) poster, for a fake movie called Casual Friday 2 that we kinda want to see.
• Ivy Lynn refuses to let Karen win. “Hey. We’re not best friends now, okay?”
• Tom tells Sam, “I haven’t been up all night since I camped out for Rent tickets in 1996.” First of all, it’s only 5 a.m. Calm down Mary. Second of all, plus 100.
• We love Michael Riedel – especially because if he saw his performance in this episode, he would have trashed it in his column.
• Eileen tells Ellis “producing is more than just casting.” This is usually true. Quick – tell the producers behind that Constantine Maroulis / Deborah Cox led Jekyll & Hyde revival…
• Just when we feared Ellis had an upper hand on Eileen Rand, she bitch slapped him and put him in his place. If only she had a cocktail in her hand…
• Tom tells Sam he’s received a message from “someone he’s been seeing.” Because why would you tell the guy you want to hook up with about your boyfriend?
• Julia meets Michael at the Westway Diner! Here for another slice of apple pie? Oh wait no, YOU JUST ATE THE WHIPPED CREAM.
Oh Hell No!
• Karen Cartwright asks Dev’s opinion on how she looks in some sunglasses. First pair, Dev calls her a “girl next door.” Second pair, Dev calls her a “slut.” Karen Cartwright says nothing. First of all, have you ever seen slutty sunglasses? Is that even possible? Second of all, DEV CALLED HIS GIRLFRIEND A SLUT AND SHE HAD NO PROBLEM WITH IT! WTF!
• After calling Karen Cartwright a slut, Dev then tells her she’s a “hard working girl.” THAT’S A DEALBREAKER LADIES.
• We totally believe that Ivy Lynn would still be sleeping with Derek. She has
• No one takes all of their pills out of their bag like that. We’ve watched a ton of TV. Usually, your pill-popping habit is found when you drop your purse and everything comes flying out. OR when Zack Morris comes over and finds you napping in your bedroom before the big concert.
• Ivy Lynn is taking Prednisone, Ambien, Klonopin, Tetrazepam, and “I don’t know, some new stuff.” Get it guys? She IS Marilyn. Minus 10.
• Ellis and Eileen have a list of celebrities they’re going after for Marilyn, and they’re all completely ridiculous: Anna Paquin, Anna Farris, and Kate Winslet. First of all, half of these people would never be Broadway box office draws (Anna Farris? Really?). Second of all, half of these people would never do Marilyn the Musical (Kate Winlset, though we love her, is far too old). On second thought, maybe this should be a “Totally True” item. The list is just as dumb as the people who made it.
• We overhear the casting director say that Karen Cartwright “was perfect” for her audition. What were they casting? A piece of wallpaper? She’s hired!
• Karen Cartwright’s coworker is wearing an “I Love New York” shirt. And she clearly doesn’t work in Times Square. Minus 15.
• We get it. Ivy Lynn hates Heaven on Earth. But no Broadway chorus girl would be that obnoxious. She was basically throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of that number. She would be fired if she acted like that during the show.
• WTF! We didn’t get to see the big ending of Norbert’s number?!? AHHH!
• Boring boring scene with Ellis boring boring
• During their big fight, Frank tells Julia that he doesn’t want to hear all the stupid things that people say at times like this. And then, he goes on to say all the stupid things that people say at times like this.
• Ellis is the worst thing ever and no one cares.
• Why is Derek hanging out in Ivy Lynn’s small apartment when he has a huge beautiful apartment all to himself?
• Ivy Lynn is complaining to Derek about Karen Cartwright. But didn’t Derek hire Karen Cartwright last episode to replace Ivy Lynn? This doesn’t make any sense.
• Derek tells Ivy she could play the “dead hooker” in his new TV pilot. What’s up with all the guys in this episode calling their girlfriends whores?
• Derek finds out about the Riedel article that night. There’s no way Riedel would have that article up that quickly. First of all, he was still at dinner. Second of all, he would save it for the morning traffic.
• They both found their sunglasses at the same time and ugh.
• Eileen tells Derek, “I believe in Marilyn. I believe in this team. I’m not apologizing to anyone.” We kind of wish Theresa Rebeck would apologize to us for writing that shit.
• Derek screams, “Get me a star!” as he storms out of the room and we roll our eyes so hardcore, they almost fall out of our face.
• We’re pretty sure actors can’t go outside in costume during a show, let alone bring their friends backstage to watch the show from the wings.
• Also, who returns sunglasses as at night? (Don’t go there…)
• We don’t know much about Norbert Leo Butz’s character, but we think he’s too professional to yell, “Get off the freaking stage,” at a fellow cast member halfway through his number.
• You definitely can’t leave the theater in your costume. We don’t care how fucked up you are Ivy Lynn. There would have been a stage manager stopping you before you even had the chance.
• Wasn’t Ivy Lynn so fucked up she couldn’t walk straight like, two seconds ago? How is it now that she’s stone sober and yelling at Karen?
• Aaaand we’re back to Ivy Lynn being totally stoned again, wearing her costume and sunglasses, and buying liquor. Minus 500 for everything we just described – plus the fact that there’s no liquor store anywhere near Times Square.
• Patrons wouldn’t ask for their money back after one chorus girl ensemble member fell in one number. It’s not like she’s the star (ooooooh snap!).
• We love seeing the 2003 Bernadette Peters Gypsy logo in Times Square. We also love seeing the American Idiot billboard. And we’ll deal with The Addams Family and Bonnie & Clyde billboards if we have to. But WTF are they doing there at the same time!?! Is this some bullshit Broadway snow globe that we didn’t see?
• AND WTF IS THAT MEMPHIS BILLBOARD DOING THERE? WHAT THEATER IS IT PLAYING AT?
• OH SHIT THERE ARE TWO MEMPHIS BILLBOARDS! AHHH!
• Also, WTF with this terrible cover? We will not be drinking to this.
• Seeing Karen dance in a hip-hop fashion with a black guy just feels racist. It also makes us want to watch Save the Last Dance.
• And now Karen is taking her clothes off. And she’s wearing a turtleneck. And we can’t.
• You see people singing in Times Square all the fucking time. And no one ever stops and forms a circle around you and claps along and sings along and has a damn good happy time. You understand that, tourists. We don’t want that shit happening in Times Square. So don’t get the wrong idea and think something like that is okay. IT’S NOT OKAY. And if either of us sees that, we are going to push our way through your fucking party so fast, you’re not going to know what hit ya.
• Ivy Lynn and Karen are now besties. See the power of music? Minus 10,000.
• Bombshell? Barfshell.
• Julia stares out of the window, drinking, while “Let Me Be Your Star” underscores again. Is she the next Marilyn?
So how’d we do this week? Hit up the comments section and let us know!