FUN FACT: Ivy wasn’t in this scene in the actual episode, so you’re kind of seeing a deleted scene. Ooooooooh
By NineDaves and Linda Buchwald
If you can, SMASH fans, set your mind back to last season. We know – the memory can be painful, thinking about those bowling alley/karaoke bar/Times Square musical numbers that came out of nowhere. But don’t think about those. Don’t think about Ellis either. Or Dev. Ignore the pill-popping Ivy Lynn, too. And Rebecca Duvall. Cut through all of that and really think about the central conflict in the show. “Let Me Be Your Star.” Team Ivy vs. Team Karen. It was all about one thing:
“Who should play Marilyn Monroe in the Marilyn Monroe musical?”
That’s it. That’s your central arc. The experienced Ivy Lynn or the novice Karen Cartwright? That’s the question SMASH spent an entire season asking. And, by the last episode, finally answered. Karen was picked to play Marilyn. Game, set, match.
Well, somewhere between the end of season 1 and the beginning of season 2, new showrunner Josh Safran realized Karen was the total wrong decision (duh). And to change that, he and his writing staff spent the past seven episodes erasing all of season 1’s work. The back and forth debates between the creative team? All of Karen’s lamesauce whining and Ivy’s “I just wish I could play Marilyn” pining? Gone. Donezo. No more.
“I’m not your Marilyn,” Karen told Tom. “[Ivy] is.” And then she quit Bombshell. And Tom cast Ivy as Marilyn. And Eileen and Julia celebrated with champagne. And Derek, who fought for Bombshell with Karen as the lead, signed away his work on Bombshell and explained he was “never going back.”
Hope you weren’t too attached!
Don’t get it twisted – it’s not that we don’t like change. We love that SMASH cut back on some of the ridiculousness of season 1. But to totally pretend that the main conflict from season 1 wasn’t even a conflict? Not cool, SMASH. Not cool.
Oh, and if you have a television show that’s a musical drama about the staging of a Broadway musical drama, try putting more than two musical performances in your goddamn episode. And put one in earlier than 40 minutes into the episode, dammit!
Those annoyances, and more, are all here in this week’s SMASH Reality Index.
- Because Karen can’t be in Hit List anymore, she’s replaced by Ana. Plus 20 because they should have replaced Katherine McPhee with Krysta Rodriguez at the start of season 2.
- “We sorta get our own coffee around here,” Blake the lighting designer tells Derek over at Hit List rehearsals. IT’S SO TOUGH DOWNTOWN!
- Kyle hits on Blake, saying, “I will gladly get you coffee any time.” We don’t really blame him. Blake is cute.
- Meanwhile, over at the Bombshell rehearsals, Tom is ordering up a grande mocha chai something or other from his assistant with ease. Plus 50 because we’d serve Christian Borle anything he wanted.
- And over at Liaisons rehearsals, the director is finally giving the actors notes. It’s about time!
- “You’re like the Terry whisperer,” Veanne Cox’s character tells Ivy at rehearsal. Plus 20. Maybe we should start a new feature: the Veanne Cox line of the week?
- Back at Bombshell, annoying Karen is being annoying Karen and arguing with Tom over every one of his directing choices. Plus 10 because she suuuuuuuuucks.
- Bobby and Jessica are gossiping about Tom’s directing mistakes. They’re like a modern day Thomas and O’Brien! #DowntonAbbey
- IT’S TIME FOR THE ANN HARADA LINE OF THE WEEK: “Tom, the new choreographer has a question. Let’s set up for ‘National Pastime’” WE LOVE YOU ANN!
- Bombshell’s had to hire a new choreographer because Derek choreographed the show the first time around and they fear he won’t sign a contract letting them use his original work. Plus 20 because finally a real problem!
- Jerry hates the new choreography. We do too. What is happening, SMASH? We’re agreeing with the villain of the piece? Help!
- Julia thinks the show is fantastic, even though they’re not using the book she likes. Normally we’d balk at how quickly she sold out, but we think this storyline isn’t over. Also, we like that the only reason she seems happy about the show now is because Tom’s the director. That’s sooooooo Julia.
- “Let me be you.” Tom says, jumping up and showing Karen how to be sexy. Plus 100 because even though it’s bad directing, Karen needs the help.
- Plus 100 for the Rent poster in Tom Collins’s Jesse L. Martin’s Scott’s office.
- Scott tells Derek, Kyle, and Jimmy that Hit List is “fresh, young and vibrant but it doesn’t have more of a theme.” Looks like he’s been reading The SMASH Reality Index! We’ve been complaining about that for weeks!
- “If our older members can’t relate to the subject matter, we have a hard time getting them to renew,” Scott tells Kyle, Jimmy, and Derek. “As a non-profit, we need our subscribers around.” This is, unfortunately, true, and the reason Roundabout does so many boring revivals.
- Derek and Jimmy agree on something. It’s technically disagreeing with Kyle, but hey – we’ll take it.
- Derek, Kyle, and Jimmy walk out of the fictional Manhattan Theatre Workshop, which is apparently on the same block as the New York Theatre Workshop. Plus 100 because at least they’re being consistent!
- “Rent had a narrator after it’s workshop and it got to Broadway,” Derek says. We didn’t know that, but we’ll believe Derek because we’re too lazy to look it up.
- “I’ve got comps for the opening night of Liaisons,” Derek tells Kyle and Jimmy. “And since that’s a small chamber piece that apparently completely reinvented itself as a big musical without changing a word, I would say it’s mandatory viewing, wouldn’t you?” Plus 100 because we’d totally be there.
- OH HEY WELCOME BACK GRACE GUMMER!
- Sean Hayes is back performing at the Broadway Theatre. Sure, it’s really Terrence Falls in Liaisons, but dammit that’s good enough for us. Who knows – maybe if we watch long enough, he’ll strap on a guitar and start singing “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” from Promises, Promises. Paging Kristin Chenoweth!
- Karen tells Derek she’s “confused” working on Bombshell now. Plus 10 because we’re confused why she was ever working on Bombshell too.
- “Did you really think you weren’t going to have to rewrite anything?” Karen asks Jimmy, actually making sense. Oh man, first we’re agreeing with Jerry, and now this? Help again!
- “Sometimes the work gets better…” Karen tells Jimmy, referring to rewrites. “And sometimes it doesn’t,” Jimmy responds, referring to SMASH season 2.
- Julia runs into Scott and the sexual chemistry is palpable. Plus 50 because between Scott and Peter, Julia is definitely down with the swirl. We never thought she had it in her!
- “You were never going to leave Broadway for some East Village basement,” Ana tells Karen. Duh Ana. Though… perhaps you can explain why this is a plot point then?
- “I’m sure you were better in it,” Karen tells Ana, of Hit List. “Well that’s true,” Ana responds. Plus 100.
- “Ivy, I’ve been on the boards all day long. BroadwayWorld. All That Chat. TheaterMania,” Terry tells Ivy. We won’t deduct points for the fact that TheaterMania doesn’t have message boards because we love this line so much. And we know actors read the boards even though they say they don’t.
- Terrence then says, “Did you know our show is ‘meh?’ The only thing they seem to like it you!” That’s soooo All That Chat. Plus 50.
- “I wish I could get out of this show,” Ivy confesses to Terrence. “I really hate it. There’s just something better for me out there!” Do you think this is how Norbert Leo Butz felt about Dead Accounts?
- “If we’re going to go down, let’s go down in a blaze of glory,” Ivy tells Terrence. Was this another Rent reference? Or another SMASH reference? Either way, we totally have “One Song Glory” in our heads now.
- Terrence was apparently planning a version of Liaisons “with mirrors” and “sheep” and “full-frontal nudity.” We. Feel. Robbed.
- Heeey Seth Rudetsky! He was also in Bunheads this season too, so if his career as a musician/radio host/writer doesn’t work out, he has a bright future in television.
- Kyle says John Cameron Mitchell is at the Liaisons opening. Plus 100 because Kyle would totally spot Jon Cameron Mitchell out in a crowd. Plus 200 because John Cameron Mitchell would totally be at the Liaisons opening. Plus 300 because we saw John Cameron Mitchell and Andy Mientus IRL at the Ragtime concert a few weeks back. And Plus 400 because we just love John Cameron Mitchell and damn we want a Hedwig revival.
- Jerry kept press clippings from Carousel, the first show he and Eileen, which is actually sweet. We like that they’ve been giving Jerry multiple dimensions this season. They should try that with more of their characters.
- We’re pretty sure this is really the lobby of The Broadway Theatre. Plus 50 for authenticity.
- “Ce N’Est Pas Ma Faute (It’s Not My Fault)” feels like a cut number from Nice Work If You Can Get It. It’s not our favorite Shaiman and Wittman number from SMASH, but we’ve definitely seen worse than this on Broadway. And at least it’s entertaining.
- Tom and Ivy make references to Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth because they are both SO GAY.
- Karen gets jealous of Ivy and Tom, and quits Bombshell. That sound you hear are the angels singing.
- Derek says that they are putting on Hit List in a space not much larger than his bathroom. Remember how huge his apartment is? That’s probably true.
- Grace Gummer is acting her face off. “I’m her daughter,” she tells Jerry. “You hurt us both for the last time.” THAT’S STREEP REALNESS.
- Terry’s understudy will finish the week and Liaisons is closing on Sunday. Kind of reminds of when Christian Hoff had to leave Pal Joey due to a “foot injury” and was replaced by his understudy. That show didn’t close in less than a week, but it should have. Also, another SMASH Reality Index prediction comes true! Check!
- Aaand Tom agrees to put Marilyn’s mother back in the show. Check again!
- And Ivy’s playing Marilyn. Check again, again!
- Now that Karen is back in Hit List, Ana won’t be playing the lead. “Oh great. The sister. Again,” she gripes. Plus 100 because this is really Krysta Rodriguez complaining about The Addams Family.
Oh Hell No!
- At the beginning of the episode, we hear the end of another Hit List song and it sounds laaaame.
- Seconds into Derek’s break at Hit List rehearsals, the theater is filled with young kids, ready for some children’s theater performance. We get the joke, showing angry Derek surrounded by annoying kids, but there’s no way the rehearsal space would turn over that quickly.
- At Bombshell rehearsals, Tom gives Karen a line reading which YOU NEVER DO as a director. Are you new here?
- In an effort to change Derek’s choreography, the new unnamed choreographer stages “The National Pastime” as a tap number. Apparently the new choreographer is Kathleen Marshall. Minus 50.
- Also, remember how much better Ivy was in this number? Minus another 50.
- “Maybe you’d see it more if I wasn’t jumping up and down the whole time,” Karen says about why she can’t get the come hither look. The choreography does suck, but don’t blame the choreography for the fact that you’re not sexy, Karen.
- Scott is talking about an upstairs and a downstairs at the Manhattan Theatre Workshop, but it’s based on New York Theatre Workshop, which just has one theater space. Minus 10.
- “Ana is good,” Jimmy tells Derek, “but she doesn’t have what Karen has.” Is it gonorrhea? It has to be gonorrhea, right? (Minus 100)
- “I’m a director so I think this is exactly how it should go,” Derek barks at Jimmy and Kyle. We get that he’s a boss, arrogant prick of a director but seriously – give the guy some plausible fucking dialogue here.
- There is a performance of Liaisons, but we don’t understand what is happening here. Derek said earlier that he was going to opening night that night at 7pm. But this can’t be that performance because Derek isn’t there. Is this an invited dress? Or a rehearsal? If so, why are there people with Playbills? It could be a preview performance. But weren’t they just in tech the other day? And if this a preview, is it a matinee? On the same day as opening? That doesn’t seem right…
- The audience hates Liaisons and the cast seems totally surprised. Maybe if they had some fucking preview performances, they wouldn’t be so shocked here…
- “It’s not bad,” Karen tells Derek, of the new direction Bombshell is going in. “It’s just not you.” Minus 50 because BARF.
- “It wouldn’t be confusing if you left with me,” Derek tells Karen when she talks to him about Bombshell. “Gwen would have bailed if Fosse quit.” After Derek worked so hard to get her there, why would he be trying to convince her to leave? We get that she’s his muse or whatever, but it is totally unprofessional of him to try and get her to break her contract on her first Broadway show.
- Eileen wants Julia and Tom to threaten to leave Bombshell, saying that’s the only way they can gain control of the show back from Jerry. And apparently Jerry didn’t sign the new choreographer contract because he wants Derek back. Could these plots be more ridiculous.
- “The song about fame and what people do to get it doesn’t do that?” Jimmy asks Kyle when he asks for a song about fame. Kind of funny, but wouldn’t Kyle know they already have a song about that?
- Karen shows up in Greenpoint again, uninvited with a new boring hairdo. She’s like Vanessa from Gossip Girl all over again.
- Karen tells Jimmy the theme of Hit List is “changing who you are” and “reinvention.” “That’s not universal,” Jimmy snarkily replies, “because people don’t really do that.” He’s referring to the fact that Karen hasn’t changed her mind yet. But STFU Jimmy – STOP MAKING US HATE YOU.
- “If I fail it’s right back to regional theater. The last artistic director only lasted a year,” Scott tells Derek. There may be some truth in this, but some artistic directors stick around for longer than they should.
- Julia shows up at the restaurant where Derek is meeting with Scott to get Derek to sign the contract, releasing his choreography. She complains that he wasn’t answering his phone, so she had to see him in person. TV shows do this all the time and it’s soooo fucking annoying. Think about it. How did Julia know where Derek was? He doesn’t have an assistant. And she was apparently surprised to see Scott, so she couldn’t have gone through him to find them. Did Derek check in on Foursquare? Did he Instagram his lunch with locations enabled? NONE OF IT MAKES SENSE.
- Derek sniffs out that Julia is unhappy that Tom’s cut the bit about Marilyn’s mother. But we all know Marilyn’s mother is coming back into the story because there are two songs by Bernadette Peters on the Bombshell “Original Cast Recording” NBC released two months ago. Minus 100 because SPOILER ALERT.
- Julia acts surprised that Derek knows what’s going on in Bombshell rehearsals. “I have my spies,” he tells her. OBVIOUSLY IT’S KAREN, JULIA. ARE YOU REALLY THAT DENSE?
- “I’ve never done this before. I’m still learning,” Tom says, bringing Karen flowers to apologize. Obviously. Would a director really go to an actress’s apartment to personally deliver flowers to her?
- Tom wants to bring Karen to the Liaisons opening and tells her that Ivy will be ok with it. While Tom needs to play nice with Karen, we think he cares too much about Ivy to risk ruining her opening night like that.
- “I don’t know what this show is anymore,” Ivy says, of Liaisons. “I guess we didn’t have enough time to fix it.” NO SHIT IVY – IT’S BEEN THREE EPISODES AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN SEEM TO HAVE A PREVIEW PERIOD.
- Seth Rudetsky has a tape recorder and he’s interviewing Karen and Tom about Bombshell. Although Seth does some writing for Playbill now and again, it’s not like he’s an investigative reporter. Was Michael Riedel busy?
- And even if Seth were an investigative reporter, he wouldn’t be doing that shit in the lobby. That’s what press lines are for.
- How did Derek get enough comps for him and Jimmy and Kyle? It’s called a plus one and Jimmy and Kyle don’t count as one person.
- Julia finds out that Eileen got the rights to material from Marilyn’s early life, such as journals, which Julia used. This is going to be the loophole that gets her back the show, but we’re having trouble caring.
- Derek tells Jimmy and Kyle that Karen fits into the opening night scene because “she’s a star” and BARF.
- “I’m not going to lie,” Jerry tells Derek and Karen. “Seeing the two of you together makes my heart beat faster.” BARF AGAIN.
- Derek calls Karen “One of the brightest young actresses around.” BARF FOR THE THIRD TIME.
- YOU ARE MAKING US BULIMIC, SMASH.
- Derek and Tom fight about… oh god, we don’t even care anymore. Minus everything.
- The usher tells the gang they need to take their seats for the show. And then the lights flicker for the first time. Come on, SMASH. Are you even trying here?
- 40 minutes into this episode of SMASH, and we finally have our first musical number. Minus 500 because this show is supposed to be a musical, right?
- Are we supposed to believe Terrence Falls and the cast of Liaisons are improvising this number? No.
- SMASH has definitely done “disastrous musical numbers” better before. Give us “The Higher You Get The Farther You Fall” over this anyday!
- Seriously, could they have at least put Sean Hayes and Debra Messing in the same scene at the Liaisons opening? Everyone else found an excuse to be there.
- “Call my psychiatrist,” Terrence Falls says at the end of his number. More like, “call my agent,” Sean Hayes.
- That’s not the Broadway Theatre stage door. Minus 10 because they were doing soooo well up until that part!
- “Is the show going to close?” Karen asks Tom as soon as the show ends, not even waiting until the reviews come out. She’s worse than the vultures on the boards.
- “We tried,” Karen tells Tom before she quits Bombshell. They tried for like 5 minutes. You’re going to give up a starring role on Broadway that easily, Iowa?
- Nice subtle billboard for The Voice, NBC.
- “Ever since you left and ever since I left you,” Karen tells Derek, Jimmy, and Kyle, “I haven’t felt right.” IT WAS LAST EPISODE, KAREN.
- “Did you really just give up a Broadway show for us?” Kyle asks Karen. “I guess I did,” Karen optimistically says. AND THE WHOLE WORLD PUNCHES THEMSELVES IN THE FACE.
- Eileen, her daughter, and Julia tell Jerry to sign show over to Eileen because blah blah blah we stopped listening.
- Eileen leaves without throwing a drink in Jerry’s face. She had a martini right in front of her. Minus 100.
- We love Pasek and Paul, but it’s kind of hard to judge the song “Rewrite This Story” that Jimmy and Karen are performing for Scott because we can’t really put it in context. Kyle tells us the show is about transformation, but what exactly is happening in this scene? Other than bad direction.
- And we brought this up last week, but it’s worth repeating. We’ve been told of Derek’s brilliance, but everything they’ve shown us just proves to us that he’s an awful director. Those projections? So cheesy. Like 2009 Guys and Dolls revival cheesy.
- And minus everything for this whole Jimmy and Derek fighting over Karen thing. We’d even take the “Who will be Marilyn?” drama over this. Derek, why don’t you just let Jimmy have Karen and finally hook up with Tom?
So, did we miss anything? Are you as annoyed by Derek’s direction as we are? Does anyone else miss season 1? Let us know in the comments.