The SMASH Reality Index (S2, EP9)

Megan Hilty and Bernadette Peters

By NineDaves and Linda Buchwald

Well here it is: the last Tuesday episode of SMASH. From now on, NBC is banishing the show to a Saturday night time slot, where Marilyn and company can die a slow, quiet death. It’s sad, really, for a show that had such promise from that first pilot episode all those plot points ago. But if we’re being honest, the true death moment for SMASH wasn’t when NBC banished the show to Saturdays. It wasn’t Ellis either. Or Uma Thurman. SMASH really died the second they hired Josh Safran as the new showrunner.

Safran had a pretty impossible task ahead of him, sure. But from watching the past nine episodes of season two, it’s pretty clear Safran was not up for the job of fixing the major problems with the show. He couldn’t clean up the cheesy dialogue. He couldn’t fix the bad acting. He couldn’t create truly captivating, dramatic events. Instead, he just introduced this odd personality disorder to the show (and we’re not just talking about Jimmy Collins).

Take tonight’s episode, for example: “The Parents.” Has there been a more disjointed episode all season? On one hand, you have the plot about Jimmy Collins’s past as a drug dealer coming back to haunt him, which felt like it came out of some bad cop show. On the other hand, you’ve got a storyline about Karen’s father trying to figure out who he saw sneaking out of her window, which felt like some bad teen drama. And then there’s Ivy and her mother, Leigh Conroy (Bernadette Peters), bringing back season 1 melodrama realness. With Krysta Rodriguez flying around in a circus number somewhere in the midst of all this. What the hell is going on here?

We’re really not sure. But we do our best breaking it down below. So join us on this last Tuesday journey, before The SMASH Reality Index moves to Sundays and we give up our Saturday night social lives for the remainder of the season. Thanks NBC!

Totally True

  • This is the second week in the row SMASH has opened with a shot of shirtless Jeremy Jordan. Of all the changes SMASH  has been giving us this season, this is by far our favorite. Plus 100.
  • Karen’s father shows up at her apartment, unexpected. We’re surprised Karen didn’t just buzz him up without asking who he was!
  • Ivy Lynn ignores her mother’s call. Stars! They’re just like us!
  • Ivy apparently holds a grudge for her mom not coming to the opening of Liaisons. “She didn’t even send a card!” Plus 50 because Ivy would be pissed about that, but immediately minus that 50 because you know Ivy would be more pissed had her mother actually shown up. Sample dialogue: “You’re trying to ruin my Broadway starring role debut!”
  • IT’S TIME FOR OUR FAVORITE FEATURE! THE ANN HARADA LINE OF THE WEEK. “Ivy? Tom and EiLeighn would like to talk to you right away. In private.” CONGRATS ANN!
  • (And because we didn’t have THE ANN HARADA LINE OF THE WEEK last week, here’s another plug to go see Ann in Cinderella on Broadway. She’s going to get a Tony nomination for the role, people. Don’t miss it!)
  • Julia is writing an e-mail to Scott while she’s supposed to be working on scenes. The more things change the more they stay the same.
  • “Let it lie,” Tom tells Julia, about the Scott situation. “I think we both know I don’t do that very well,” Julia replies. Plus 10 because at least she’s finally being self-aware.
  • When Tom, Julia, and EiLeighn tell Ivy they’ve cast Marilyn’s mother, Ivy immediately asks “Patti LuPone?” Plus 50 because that’s exactly what Tom said last week, and plus another 50 because that’s our standard answer to any casting call.
  • Leigh Conroy tells Ivy she wouldn’t take the role of Marilyn’s mother unless Ivy approves of it. “If you don’t want me here, I will completely understand,” she says. “It’s up to you.” That’s called guilt, people. Straight up mother/child guilt. And godammit she’s good at it.
  • The whole cast eavesdrops on EiLeighn, Tom, Julia, Ivy, and Leigh. We call this “The Ellis Effect” and in this case, it’s pretty great.
  • Ivy and Leigh working together is the only reason Bombshell is going to be on the arts cover of the Times. This is totally plausible, but only if Shia LaBeouf is having a slow week.
  • Over at Hit List rehearsal, Karen’s dad claps annoyingly when Karen performs. Oh Iowa…
  • “What’s gotten into you. You sound happy,” Kyle says to Jimmy. Given that Jimmy’s usually throwing temper tantrums, we get why he’s concerned.
  • Tom lies and tells Ivy that it was EiLeighn’s call to cast Leigh as Marilyn’s mother. We love you Tom, but you are such a weenie.
  • It’s the first day of rehearsal and Leigh has already memorized all her lines. Told you she wasn’t spending her time sitting at home, updating her website and writing fan letters…
  • Ann Harada’s face while watching this scene between Marilyn and her mother says it all. Ivy and Leigh are terrible in it.
  • Ivy and Leigh are rehearsing a tense scene between Marilyn and her estranged mother, Gladys. But because Leigh and Ivy have never addressed the problems in their own relationship, they’re playing the scene like Ivy and her mother are best friends. We have denial about plenty of relationships in our family. We’re pretty sure Megan Hilty and Bernadette Peters grabbed inspiration for this scene from our family Thanksgiving.
  • “Why are they being so nice?” Jessica asks, about Leigh and Ivy. “This is boring,” says Bobby. “I want my catfight already.” Plus 10 because we were thinking the same thing.
  • “Why isn’t this working?” Tom asks Julia, about Leigh and Ivy. “They’re being so polite, they’re turning Norma Jean and Gladys into The Gilmore Girls.” Plus 50.
  • Jimmy doesn’t want anyone to know he slept with Karen. We wouldn’t want anyone to know if we were sLeighping with Karen Cartwright either.
  • Every time they show the outside of the New York Theatre Workshop or La Mama, an angel gets its wings.
  • The simple artwork for Hit List is 100x better than the Bombshell artwork.
  • Karne’s dad doesn’t understand why Karen left Bombshell. THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S A DUMB FUCKING DECISION AND IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.
  • Back at Bombshell rehearsal, Leigh chats with Sam, acting like they’re best friends. If we had a dime for every time a Mom pretended her daughter’s gay best friend was her gay best friend, we’d be millionaires.
  • EiLeighn and Julia decide to go to the fundraiser for the Manhattan Theater Workshop to see the show for which Derek and Karen left Bombshell. Sure, we doubt EiLeighn and Julia would do something like this THE WEEK BEFORE TECH WHEN THEY’RE STILL WRITING THE DAMN SHOW, but we know every artist likes to secretly check out the competition.
  • In order to get stronger performances out of Ivy and Leigh, Tom decides to “turn on the drama.” It’s like everything he learned about directing, he learned from watching the Real Housewives.
  • Leigh Conroy won a Tony for Anything Goes. So she basically is Patti LuPone.
  • Leigh tells everyone that Ivy used to be fat, and they almost cast her as Kurt in The Sound of Music. QUICK GET IVY HER PILLS!
  • Ivy tells a story about the time she played Little Red in Into The Woods in summer stock. An Into the Woods mention? Drink!
  • (Ivy Lynn would have made a killer Little Red, p.s.).
  • “At least the best part of my career is still ahead of me,” Ivy tells Leigh. Ooooh that’s a read gurl!
  • EiLeighn and Julia leave after “Broadway Here I Come” and head right to the bar. We need a drink after we hear Karen sing too.
  • Jimmy asks Scott for an advance and Scott wisely points out that there is no money in non-profit theater.
  • Julia thinks she can make things up to Scott by bidding on as many items as she can at the silent auction. If you have the money to throw at a problem, why not?
  • That “Reach for Me” number may not have been very original, but we have to hand it to Krysta Rodriguez for looking flawless.
  • Also, props to songwriter Andrew McMahon.
  • Jimmy tried to steal a watch from the coat of someone at the party. He owes his old drug dealer friend $8,000. Derek catches him and gives him the money. He should give us $8,000 for making us sit through this plot line.
  • Julia and Scott are flirting. And dammit, Julia looks hot. Finally, one of the promises about this year’s new and improved SMASH (that Debra Messing would look better) came true!
  • Karen’s dad is as annoying as she is. Back the hell off. But at least Dylan Baker is a better actor than Katherine McPhee.
  • Leigh Conroy sings “Hang the Moon” and it’s flawless. Even Linda, admittedly not the biggest Bernadette Peters fan, has no complaints. Bravo Bernie!
  • And bravo Shaiman and Wittman, for yet another beautiful, perfect song.
  • Plus 100 for Bernadette Peters wearing her Mama Rose wig from Gypsy.
  • Julia cries and so do we. And if Christian Borle were here, we’d be holding his hand too.
  •  This scene where Karen says goodbye to her dad was shot in the lobby of New York Theatre Workshop. Plus 20 for consistency.
  • Karen’s dad says Hit List looks “interesting.” That’s one way to put it.
  • In her most dramatic move yet, Ivy tells Tom off for all the emotional pain he’s put her through by casting Leigh. “We’re not friends,” she says, as if she’s on a reality show. “I work for you now and that’s it.” Plus 100 because in every other working relationship in the world – including Broadway – that’s how it should be.
  • Jimmy pays off his ex-dealer friend using the money Derek lends him. But he doesn’t leave without taking some cocaine. Because Jimmy Collins is a bad ass.

Oh Hell No!

  • It may look romantic to see Jimmy and Karen all cuddling up in the kitchen. But the Jimmy Collins we know doesn’t cuddle.
  • Can we talk about that ridiculous turquoise-painted wall with the scattering of letters in Karen’s apartment? What is this? Matilda?
  • Because her father is coming up the stairs, Karen tells Jimmy to climb out the window. Sorry, but that shit doesn’t happen in real life. Why couldn’t Karen have just thrown Jimmy in Ana’s room?
  • Also, could Karen be taking any longer with Jimmy? Your father is knocking on the door, Karen. Stop making out!
  • Ivy claims her mom is at home, updating her own website and sending letters to her fans. Sorry, but Leigh Conroy does not know WordPress.
  • Sam’s complaining about being a cover for the Bombshell ensemble. Dude, who’s fault is that? Perhaps you shouldn’t have quit your fucking job starring in the most popular tour out there after a night of drinking.
  • Julia runs her apology email to Scott by Tom one more time. This sort of behavior is what irritates us the most about Julia. It’s like she can’t take a shit without checking to see if everyone’s okay with it first. If she ever thought about killing herself, everyone would know about it because she’d be having them proof her suicide note. Just… minus all the points.
  • Over at Hit List rehearsal, Karen sucks all the mystery and coolness out of “Broadway Here I Come.” Excuse us while we listen to our iTunes version of Jeremy Jordan singing this until this scene ends.
  • We’re still confused about this diva character. Doesn’t Karen’s character become a diva? Then again, why are we questioning this? Nothing about Hit List ever makes sense.
  • The Hit List gang decides to stage a new number for the fundraiser the next day. “Do we even have time to pull this off?” Ana wonders. “Most definitely not,” says Derek. “But that hasn’t stopped me in the past.” NO WONDER ALL YOUR SHIT SUCKS, DEREK!
  • “It might not be Broadway, but it’s right for me,” Karen says, of her decision to leave Bombshell. Yawn.
  • Richard Francis, the fictional Arts Editor of The New York Times, says the only reason he decided to write the piece on Bombshell was to see EiLeighn. Um… wasn’t it because it was a good story? Because the only reason they cast Leigh Conroy at Marilyn’s mother was to get you to write this story in the first place. So like… is this all really Richard’s fault?
  • Karen’s dad thinks she slept with Derek because Derek wears a leather jacket – just like the guy he saw sneaking out of his daughter’s apartment earlier that morning. Mistaken identity? Why are we suddenly in a Shakespeare comedy?
  • And doesn’t Karen’s dad have a conference to get to?
  • Back at Bombshell rehearsal, Leigh tells everyone she was performing in Anything Goes “the whole time I was pregnant with Ivy.” The whole time, Leigh? That’s one fucked up Reno Sweeney.
  • At the big fundraiser, Jimmy Collins drinks white wine. Please, he’d have a beer.
  • Richard Francis shows up at the fundraiser to see EiLeighn. Wasn’t he supposed to be at Bombshell rehearsal the day before, taking pictures and working on the story? Isn’t the deadline for the cover story tomorrow? Get to writing, boo!
  • Ana’s song “Reach for Me” looks like one of Arachne’s cut scenes from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. It does look cool, but how are they going to pull this off at a non-profit theater?
  • Also, Derek Wills basically went to the Pink tour and stole all her choreography.
  • Jimmy sneaks into the coat check room and goes through the jacket pockets of the guests. In one of them, he finds a gold watch, still in the case. Who in their right mind keeps that in his/her jacket pocket… and then CHECKS the fucking jacket at a coat check? Minus 200.
  • Richard Francis introduced himself to Scott. Wouldn’t they know one another? It’s a small community. Artistic directors and editors of The New York Times arts section tend to at least know one another.
  • Do we really need another EiLeighn romance? We want to throw a drink in our faces for even watching this shit.
  • Because Richard tells Scott he likes the diva character, Scott decides to put the diva character in the second act, and Derek seemingly agrees. Look, we wish critics had that much power, but they simply don’t. Creatives make creative decisions for the sake of creativity, not critics.
  • Richard gives the Bombshell cover story to another writer so he can date EiLeighn. “I’ll find something else to write about,” he tells EiLeighn. Obviously he’s talking about Hit List. GREAT JOB EILeighN.
  • “We may need you to open the show,” Ivy tells her mother. “But after that, I’ll never need you again.” Are you sure about that Ivy? She’s your only blood relative. What if you need a kidney or something?
  • Let’s talk about how ridiculous it is that Ivy’s pissed her mother is going to overshadow her in Bombshell. First of all, Marilyn’s mother is in two scenes. Marilyn’s in every scene but one.
  • Plus, didn’t Ivy want Patti LuPone to play the Marilyn’s mother role? Wouldn’t Patti LuPone have overshadowed Ivy more?
  • Leigh sings “Hang the Moon” and it’s beautiful. But it’s supposed to take place in a mental hospital. Yet Tom visualizes it in some weird carnival dance hall. It’s like Derek’s shitty visions all over again.
  • Karen’s dad, who apparently can’t stop butting into Karen’s boring ass love life, asks Jimmy if they’d all like to get dinner together when he’s back in town for Hit List opening. And Jimmy agrees. WHAT THE WHAT?!? THE JIMMY WE KNOW DOESN’T GET DINNER WITH THE PARENTS!
  • Derek hails a cab by whistling and saying “Taxiiiii.” That shit doesn’t happen in real life.
  • Julia is surprised that Scott remembers her drink order from 15 years ago. Um… it’s tea. It’s not that complex.
  • Scott asks Julia to be a dramaturg on Hit List. Um, SMASH, you are fooling no one. SHE NEEDED A DRAMATURG TO FIX BOMBSHELL. How is she going to fix someone else’s show?
  • “You know story,” Scott confidently tells Julia, praising her ability to write. Clearly Scott hasn’t been paying attention to the negative press reports.
  • “Don’t worry,” Jimmy’s drug-dealer friend tells Jimmy. “Your secret’s safe with me!” That’s obviously code for “I’m telling everyone next week!” Barf.

So what do you think, SMASH Reality Index-ers? Did you want to “Hang the Moon” or “Hang Yourself” after this episode?

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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