The SMASH Reality Index (S2, EP4)

Jennifer Hudson

By NineDaves and Linda Buchwald

We’ve seen it happen time and time again. After years of struggling, an actor finally realizes his/her dream of making it to the Broadway stage in a breakout role. Fanboys and fangirls line up outside the theater for autographs, flooding the BroadwayWorld Message Boards and their Twitter feeds with endless praise and dreamcasting possibilities. Critics follow. The New York Times does a profile or two. Then there’s the Tony nomination. And eventual win. And then – without warning – said actor turns his/her back on us all and goes out to Hollywood to do a television series.

It happened with Kristin Chenoweth. And Cheyenne Jackson. Patrick Wilson did it to us too. Sutton Foster. Laura Benanti. Aaron Tveit. And then Christian Borle, Megan Hilty, and Jeremy Jordan left us to do SMASH.

For a theater fan, there’s nothing worse. You care so much about them. You’ve woken up early countless times to rush their shows. You’ve gone to their cabaret shows at 54 Below. You’ve waited to see them at Broadway on Broadway. You’ve bought their old shit at the Broadway Flea Market. And now, the closest you’ll come to seeing them on Broadway again is when they attend a Broadway show when they’re in town doing New York press for their TV show. You’ve been abandoned. You’re nothing to them.

It’s not like you don’t want them to succeed. You just want them to stay awhile and appreciate Broadway. You want them to enjoy the audience they’ve worked so hard to build.

It happens time and time again. So it’s no surprise SMASH finally documented this desire of a Broadway star to move past the Great White Way. And they did so through the story of Ms. Veronica Moore (Jennifer Hudson).

Since SMASH has been heavily advertising Jennifer Hudson’s stint on the show, it’s no wonder we would get an episode devoted to her. Here, Veronica hired Derek to direct her one-night-only concert (missed opportunity to have JHud sing “One Night Only”) that could get her noticed by Hollywood producers. She wanted to break away from her good-girl image – and break out of Broadway. In the end, she spent 45 minutes fighting Derek on all his choices, and then sang a damn good song. It was a one-off episode that did nothing to move the bigger SMASH story forward. What a waste of time.

We’ll miss Veronica Moore (this was JHud’s last episode on SMASH). But at least y’all now know what us theater geeks deal with every few seasons or so. They at least got that right.

How’d they do otherwise? Read on.

Totally True

  • Veronica Moore sings “I Got Love” and it’s amazing and perfect and dammit we wish we could marry it.
  • Is that Ryan Watkinson, our favorite ensemble member from recent revivals of Promises, Promises and How To Succeed…? Why yes! Yes it is! Plus 20!
  • Sheryl Lee Ralph plays Cynthia Moore, Veronica Moore’s over-bearing, bossy, Mama Rose-like mother. Plus 100 because we knew the original Deena Jones would grow up to be a total monster.
  • “You could never have enough love,” Cynthia tells Derek. “You of all people should know that after what I’ve read.” Plus 10 because that’s a read, gurl.
  • IT’S TIME FOR OUR FAVORITE FEATURE, ‘THE ANN HARADA LINE OF THE WEEK!’ This week, upon meeting Veronica’s mother, “Linda” asks: “Isn’t she a little old to have a mom-ager?” CONGRATULATIONS ANN!
  • Cynthia goes toe-to-toe with Derek, which makes us love her even more.
  • Derek thinks Veronica sold out her concert in six hours because his name was above the title. Man, if Derek keeps up this egotistical behavior, we’re going to start calling him Tyra Banks.
  • Derek refers to himself as “The Big Bad Wills.” Plus 50.
  • Derek complains that the songs Veronica wants to sing too safe and therefore aren’t edgy enough to shake up her image. “Get me something raw,” he screams to Tom. Karen then immediately gets in touch with Jimmy and Kyle because she thinks she knows everything.
  • Julia hates acting classes. Why Julia? ‘Cause they could actually help you become a better writer? Oh yes… precisely.
  • Jimmy Collins is throwing coins into what we assume is a douchebag jar. Plus 10.
  • Another Joe’s pub shout-out! Woohoo!
  • Derek’s advice to Jimmy and Kyle while they finish their musical: “Try out material somewhere that counts, build buzz, get noticed.” We’ve been to enough up-and-coming composer concerts at Joe’s Pub to know that this is what people do. And spoiler alert – half of them are writing for SMASH now.
  • “How fast can you get into Manhattan?” Karen Cartwright asks Jimmy. He lives in Greenpoint, Karen. Off the G? Don’t hold your breath…
  • Ivy Lynn and Veronica Moore are old friends. Probably because they both have controlling mothers!
  • Veronica Moore played Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. Man, that “Somewhere That’s Green” must have been LOUD.
  • “We’re big fans,” Kyle tells Tom, upon meeting him. “I haven’t seen any of his stuff,” Jimmy tells Kyle. Plus 20.
  • “An audience of a thousand just turned into a few million,” Derek tells the cast, announcing the show will be filmed for Bravo. A few million? Doubt they’d get those ratings.
  • Plus 500 for SMASH showing live-singing. Take note, Les Miserables. This is how it should have been done.
  • Sorry, Jimmy and Kyle, as much as we like you and your songs, we have to agree with Tom here. None of the songs you played were at all in Veronica’s voice.
  • Kyle mentions that Sondheim wrote “Send in the Clowns” in one day. Then Karen shares that Julia and Tom wrote “Don’t Forget Me” in less than that. And that, our friends, is the problem with Karen Cartwright. She thinks Julia and Tom and Stephen Sondheim are on equal playing field. Heck, she thinks they’re better! Three on a Match = Sweeney Todd.
  • Peter has his acting class read Julia’s Bombshell book out loud. Only he changes all the character names. And guess what? Everyone can tell how horrible it is! ‘This is supposed to be a play about a strong woman, right?” says one student. “But she’s not strong at all. She’s far more defined by the men around her.” DING DING DING. We could have told you that and we haven’t even read 2 pages of the damn book!
  • Julia loses her shit in acting class because she’s a child and can’t take criticism. Plus 10 because this is consistent with the Julia we’ve seen for the past two seasons, but minus 10 because SERIOUSLY STFU JULIA.
  • Also, Plus 100 for that girl in acting class grabbing the arm of her friend while Julia acted like a total nightmare. Genius.
  • Of course acting students would think that Hedda Gabler was amazing, even with the names changed.
  • Jimmy lists “scotch, weed, and coke” as things that would help him write. It’s like he knows the key ingredients to The SMASH Reality Index.
  • “Come to the theater,” Tom tells Julia, joking. “We have nothing but well-adjusted happy people here.” Plus 50 because they’re all crazy.
  • OH HEY TOWN HALL!
  • “Why did you date Derek anyway?” Veronica asks Ivy. “Was it the accent, or the hair?” Plus 80 because it was clearly both.
  • Cynthia suggests Tom direct Veronica’s concert. Once again, another mention of Tom’s directing ability. You guys see that foreshadowing, right?
  • Ivy tells Derek to let Veronica sing what she wants to sing. Plus 15 because it’s nice to see Ivy standing up to Derek and taking his ego down a few pegs.
  • Jimmy gets frustrated when Derek won’t look at his song, prompting a lecture from Derek to Jimmy about patience and hard work. “No one deserves anything in this business,” Derek barks. “You wait your turn and you earn it. You are not there yet.” If only he would have told that to Karen Cartwright last season.
  • Derek calls Karen “darling” for the first time in a long time. Plus 60 because we missed that misogynistic pet-name.
  • According to Kyle, Jimmy “has a trigger and when it gets pulled, he’s gone for days.” We wouldn’t mind pulling his trigger from time to time.
  •  “I suggest things and you start bantering which is your way of really not listening,” Peter tells Julia, also summing up eight seasons of Will & Grace.
  • “The good girl is what the people want to see,” Cynthia tells Veronica. “And you darling, need to play to your strengths.” PAGING LAURA OSNES.
  • Derek lists off Veronica’s set list. “A Sleeping Bee” (from House of Flowers), “If I Loved You” (from Carousel), “Ease on Down the Road” (from The Wiz), and “I Could Have Danced All Night” (from My Fair Lady). Hey we’d go to this concert! But only if Norm Lewis duets on “If I Loved You,” obviously.
  • Tom tells Derek that when he caves, Tom likes him even less. Us too!
  • Tom refers to Jimmy as “the real thing” and we can only assume that it’s really Christian Borle talking about Jeremy Jordan.
  • Kyle Bishop walks down the street, singing Billy Joel songs. Just like we do sometimes. Plus 50.
  • And plus another 50 for choosing a Billy Joel song that’s not on one of his Greatest Hits albums. “Everybody Loves You Now” is a fantastic song.
  • Yay! A ghostlight! Plus 10!
  • Jimmy’s a lot nicer when he’s on drugs. Plus 30 because we are too.
  • We assume the only way Jimmy was into kissing Karen Cartwright was because he was on drugs.
  • “So this is your fix?” Julia asks Peter, while pouring a glass of wine. “Getting drunk at noon on a weekday?” Sounds good to us!
  • Julia finally has a breakthrough, realizing that the show is not about Marilyn, but more about how men saw her. “Every scene should be from a man’s point of view,” she says. “She didn’t have a voice. They all spoke for her.” Damn this show sounds good now!
  • Nick turns himself in and Eileen confesses that she knew where the money came from and no one cares.
  • Veronica decides to do the edgy version of her show as if none of us didn’t see that coming from a mile away.
  • Oh hey Joe’s Pub reference #2!
  • WE’LL GO TO YOUR HOME IN THE BERKSHIRES WITH YOU, PETER!
  • Eileen gathers Derek, Tom, and Julia together to tell them that Bombshell is going to Broadway… with Jerry as producer. “He’s the world’s worst human being, but he’s a very good producer,” she says, stepping down from the production. We’re sure that’s true of a lot of producers.
  • Turns out Ellis is the one who tipped off Jerry to Eileen’s legal problems. BECAUSE OF COURSE ELLIS IS STILL AROUND.
  • “Don’t ever, ever contact me again” Jerry tells Ellis, cutting him a $50,000 check. 10 bucks says the producers told Jaime Cepero the same thing – but paid him way less.

Oh Hell No!

  • Another week, another montage. We’re going to keep deducting points for this, SMASH, until you get your shit together and change up your format!
  • Derek is directing Veronica Moore’s solo concert, and he hires Tom to be musical director? They hate one another! This makes no sense.
  • And it’s not just Tom. Linda’s here. Karen. Doesn’t Derek know anyone else in the industry? Or is it just people he worked with on Bombshell?
  • Derek wonders where ensemble member “Beth” is, despite the fact that none of the other ensemble members are performing with Veronica during “I’ve Got Love” at the moment. Focus Wills!
  • As much as we like Sheryl Lee Ralph as a bitchy stage mom, we kind of had that character last season. Only she was played by Bernadette Peters. Meh.
  • Veronica apparently sold out her one-night-only concert in six hours. And her mother thinks she could have done it in one hour! Both of these are completely implausible for a Broadway star. Even Alan Cumming and Liza Minnelli didn’t sell out their concert that fast!
  • Beth’s boyfriend won’t let her work with Derek because of his sexual harassment issues. Sorry Beth, but you’re a fucking idiot for letting your boyfriend dictate what ensemble parts you’re going to take.
  • “Musicals take years to develop,” says Kyle. “There’s no shortcuts.” Obviously he didn’t watch SMASH last season, when Bombshell was produced in 15 episodes.
  • Karen Cartwright criticizes Jimmy for not dressing up to meet Derek. Derek is wearing a dirty v-neck t-shirt. Minus 10.
  • Can we talk about how ridiculous it is that this concert is even happening this quickly? Jimmy and Kyle couldn’t get Joe’s Pub because it was booked six months in advance. You think Town Hall is just free? Last week, Veronica mentioned she wanted to do this concert. And now we’re here, two days before, with tickets already sold, and a TV crew on the way? Minus 100.
  • The only way Bravo would be filming a Veronica Moore concert is if Kathy Griffin were hosting and Kim Zolciak was headling. Minus 200.
  • Are we the only ones who think Jimmy should have song all his demos? His voice is amazing – far better than Karen Cartwright’s!
  • We get that they’re going for this “Jimmy is a total asshole” thing. But even a bad-boy Broadway composer is still a fucking BROADWAY COMPOSER. He would know better than to mouth off to Tom when given a huge opportunity like composing a song for Veronica Moore to sing in a nationally televised concert.
  • Sorry. We don’t buy that Karen Cartwright knows shit about writing songs.
  • Also, why is Karen everyone’s fucking muse?
  • Karen gives Jimmy terrible advice, saying he should write the song for him, not for Veronica Moore. Was she not there just two scenes ago when all his other songs that he wrote for himself were totally rejected because they didn’t fit Veronica Moore’s voice?
  • Kyle eavesdrops on Karen and Jimmy. Because apparently, the writers think we miss Ellis. Ugh.
  • Minus 100 for everything about this songwriting scene. EVERYTHING.
  • Nick’s back and we still don’t care.
  • Veronica Moore doesn’t have a life at all because she works too hard. Minus 500 because if SMASH thinks they’re going to get us to care about their characters by presenting a storyline about a famous star who works too hard and doesn’t have a personal life, they’re wrong. Give us something we can relate to for fuck’s sake. #RichPeopleProblems
  • Veronica is complaining about working with Derek. She doesn’t like how he pushes her so hard outside her comfort zone. Yet she was the one who hired him to direct her concert SO SHE COULD BREAK OUT OF HER GOOD GIRL IMAGE. AND SHE’S THE ONE WHO WANTED HIM TO DIRECT HER IN THE WIZ BECAUSE HE WAS THE ONLY ONE NO AFRAID TO MAKE AN EDGY VERSION OF THE SHOW. GODDAMMIT WHAT IS THE PROBLEM HERE.
  • Karen Cartwright tries to stand up for Veronica when Derek is yelling at her. Girl, STFU THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU.
  • Eileen Rand has a tearful conversation with Nick, convincing him to stay. The Eileen Rand we know would have thrown a drink in his face for totally disappearing on her. Minus 10.
  • Karen Cartwright refers to Jimmy and Kyle’s song as “simple, pure,” and “Broadway – with a fresh take.” Minus 400 because we get the feeling Karen hasn’t seen a Broadway show in years.
  • Jimmy once again mouths off to Derek, and then get’s pissed at Karen because she doesn’t leave with him. Again – we get it. Jimmy’s an asshole. But this is a little much.
  • Derek claims Jimmy’s bad behavior is an attempt to show off in front of Karen. As if Derek isn’t always doing the same thing.
  • “Look Karen, you’re a really nice person…” Kyle says, in the lie of a lifetime.
  • The Singing Bird, Peter’s play, is actually about a bird who sings. Peter might be a bad playwright, but no one would publish that shit under that title.
  • “I want Bombshell to be great,” Julia says. “I just wish I knew what was wrong.” Um… Julia? EVERYONE HAS BEEN TELLING YOU WHAT IS WRONG FOR FOUR EPISODES NOW. STFU AND LISTEN!
  • “If my mother loved me half as much as I loved you,” Cynthia tells Veronica, “Maybe my singing wouldn’t have stopped in church.” Okay Mama Rose. We get it.  You were born too soon and you started too late. What you have in you? You could have been better than any of us. What you’ve got in you? What you’ve been holding down inside of you… oh if you ever let it out. There wouldn’t be signs BIG ENOUGH. THERE WOULDN’T BE LIGHTS BRIGHT ENOUGH!
  • “Sometimes I don’t remember what I wanted,” says Veronica. Go back and watch last week’s episode, gurl.
  • As much as we don’t believe Jimmy’s bad boy attitude, we also don’t believe his “I’m so sick of letting everyone down” excuses.
  • Karen advises Jimmy to go back into the theater so everyone can see he can handle rejection. “That’s what I did when I didn’t get Marilyn,” Karen says. Actually Karen, that’s not what you did. You bitched and moaned and pouted until you got your way.
  • Also, why would Jimmy go back into the theater if they’re not using his song? He’s not involved anymore! Time to go home and sober up!
  • Jimmy and Karen kiss and MINUS EVERYTHING.
  • Veronica sings “I Got Love” as a slow, sultry number, accompanied by bad Fosse-esque choreography. Congratulations Derek! You’ve helped break Veronica out of her good girl image. She’s now terrible! Like, truly truly awful.
  • Also, Ivy Lynn is not a dancer.
  • Jimmy and Kyle are inexplicably backstage, watching Veronica’s performance. They had no reason to be there given that they thought their song wasn’t chosen.
  • Fun fact! “I Can’t Let Go” – the show-stopping number Veronica sings at the end of her concert that’s supposed to be written by Jimmy and Kyle? It was actually composed by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman. The same guys who wrote all the songs Julia and Tom wrote for Bombshell. We love the song (and Veronica’s performance). But if Jimmy and Kyle are supposed to be the anti-Tom and Julia, perhaps pick a different song.
  • And that was clearly not Karen and Ivy signing backup. Unless they magically can sing like black women.
  • Veronica brings Jimmy and Kyle on stage to bow at the end of her concert. First of all, they weren’t even supposed to be there as her singing their song was a totally surprise (and last minute decision). Second of all, it’s not like they’re established composers or even first-timers after the performance of their first full show. And third of all, Kyle didn’t do anything to write this song.
  • Tom and Derek are pulled from the after-party of Veronica’s show to talk to Eileen. Tom is wearing a tux. Derek, that same dirty black t-shirt from rehearsals. Minus 50.
  • “I just hope I’m not making the wrong decision,” Eileen says, as the camera pans in on the awful Bombshell artwork. Too late for that!
  • Jerry gives some speech about how Bombshell will be “the biggest hit Broadway’s had in years” (LOL The Book of Mormon LOL) and how “everyone will know Eileen Rand couldn’t do it on her own” (eye roll).

So what do you think? Were you as annoyed with this week’s episode as we were? Let us know!

For more SMASH goodness, follow NineDaves and Linda on Twitter.

NineDaves About NineDaves

NineDaves is a part-time blogger, full-time tweeter, and all-around television-addict who spends way too much time thinking about what his Real Housewives’ opening quote will be. He’s so obsessed with TV, he’s basically like that kid from Willy Wonka. Only gayer.

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