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.
It's finally here. The season finale of SMASH. We’ve stuck by this show for 15 episodes, and this episode, “Bombshell,” is our reward. Or punishment, depending on how you look at it.
We’re still in Boston for previews, just shy of opening night. Our star Marilyn, Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman) has just quit the show, and now everyone is scrambling. Tom (Christian Borle) and Julia (Debra Messing) are writing one last song for the finale. Eileen (Anjelica Huston) is trying her best to be heard amongst a sea of disorganized creatives. And Derek (Jack Davenport) is spending an odd amount of time yelling for a wig. Oh, and we still need a Marilyn. Ahhh yes. The quest for the perfect Marilyn; something we thought we knew in episode 2 but apparently had to wait 13 more episodes to really find out. Would it be Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty), the girl with the experience and the pill problem, or Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee), the girl with the heart and the cheating fiancé?
SPOILER ALERT – it’s Karen Cartwright. Lame ass Karen Cartwright. The wrong choice, clearly. It’s not that Karen Cartwright isn’t talented. It’s not that she isn’t working hard. It’s just that… Ivy Lynn’s better. Ivy Lynn completely encompasses Marilyn (believe us – we saw Megan Hilty in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes this weekend – she was outstanding). Ivy Lynn deserved that role. Heck, if we saw Bombshell, we’d probably spend the whole time saying, “Why isn’t that girl in the chorus playing Marilyn? She looks perfect!” It looks like even in the make-believe theater world, an American Idol player gets top billing over a Broadway superstar. Just like when Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo came into Hair.
For what it’s worth, “Bombshell” was one of the best episodes of the season. That could be because we were treated to an episode free of any painful pop songs. As if the producers were like, “you’ve stuck with us this long – you theater people might as well pipe down have your showtunes.” We did get plenty of showtunes. A slew of returning hits (What up “Mr. and Mrs. Smith!), favorites we hadn’t seen staged yet, (“I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl”), and even a new ballad - “Don’t Forget Me.” Which is kind of strange considering the show already has 16 different ballads (“Let Me Be Your Star,” “Never Give All The Heart,” “Second Hand Baby Grand,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “History is Made at Night,” and “On Lexington and 52nd Street,” plus reprises of “Let Me Be Your Star,” “Second Hand Baby Grand,” and “Mr. And Mrs. Smith.”). Could Bombshell be the most ballad-heavy show ever?
While you’re answering that, here’s another question for you: Is Sam (Leslie Odom, Jr) actually in Bombshell? We’ve seen him rehearsing numbers with the ensemble before –but only in the rehearsal room. Has he ever put on a costume and performed with the rest of the ensemble? Is he playing someone special who doesn’t have to do that?
And is Ivy Lynn in any numbers besides the opening? Because she certainly had a ton of time on her hands to sit up in her dressing room and overdose on pills, now didn’t she? We guess we’ll have to wait and find out when SMASH returns for it’s second season in January. By then, Karen will probably be out as Marilyn, and Ivy will be back in the running, and we’ll be rolling our eyes out of our heads. Before we go, some housekeeping. Remember on Friday when Dave and I posted THE ULTIMATE SMASH BINGO GAME? Well guess what? Vulture picked it up. Totally crazy, right? A complete and utter honor – especially since the Reality Index was very much inspired from our friends over at Vulture. Bananas, we tell you.
Then a bunch of people were tuned into our stuff who haven’t been yet (Hi, by the way). Oh, and then we got to meet SMASH composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and SMASH star Megan Hilty, and give them copies of THE ULTIMATE SMASH BINGO GAME. And they totally loved it and OMFG.
But as cool as that’s been, it’s been the support we’ve received from you guys out there that’s really mattered. We just want to thank all of you for reading. We’ve had so much fun writing these this season and we really appreciate your feedback and support and healthy debates on Twitter. You guys floor us with your love, and we couldn’t be more grateful.
So yeah, we’re writing this week’s Index from beyond the grave because we’re dead.
Now let’s get to it: