All you DVRers out there caught up on this week’s Smash yet? You guys… this Show. This is becoming some kind of abusive relationship. It keeps telling me it wants to change, and buys me flowers and chocolates and strokes my hair and tells me I’m pretty, but then it suddenly turns cold and cruel and embarrasses me in front of my friends after I’ve told them that things are looking up. Kinda like Director D-bag and Ivy!
So last week, you know how I was all, “hey, this is how the show should be done!” And the show was focused, and pulled together, and didn’t devote a lot of time to all the stupid crap that we can’t stand about it?
I should have known it would get drunk and call me stupid again.
It’s the aftermath of the workshop, and no one is telling anybody anything. So what IS up with everyone?
1. Julia: Is, as per usual, whining at Frank about what the blogs said and the fact that Eileen won’t return her calls. To jar her out of her funk (something I’m sure Frank has had A LOT of practice doing, because girlfriend is fucking high maintenance), he busts out some Guitar Hero and starts singing in such a way that is embarrassing for absolutely everyone involved, with the possible exception of Leo, who is listening from his bedroom and smiling at this evidence of marital accord betwixt his parents. You know, as teenage boys do.
To help further that marital accord, Julia meets with Michael in a properly public place to give him the news that he is fired, both from the production and from her vagina. In an abrupt about-face from everything we’ve seen of the character so far, Michael agrees that this makes perfect sense, and says he would have quit anyway, that he adores his family (who are there at the playground in front of them) and doesn’t want to do anything to mess that up, all in a completely non-creepily-aggressive way. Hmm. Character inconsistency, or horror akin to that of the viewers’ at the uber-awkward sex scene between the two of them? You be the judge. At any rate, there’s one storyline-that-doesn’t-work hopefully brought to a close.
Also on Julia’s plate: Leo’s “trial,” wherein Boring John has gotten the charges against him dropped to “walking where he shouldn’t have.” Seriously? This is a “going to court” offense in New York? Boring John argues that they don’t want to accept the fine for that because it will be on Leo’s record if he does, so Boring John is asking that the charges be dismissed. The judge pulls some attitude about entitled brats getting away with murder, which causes Julia to go off on him in open court, because fucking of course she does, but Boring John grovels enough in front of the judge to get the charges dismissed. Another storyline-that-doesn’t-work resolved. Hey, a two-fer!
2. Karen: Director D-Bag meets with Karen on the down-low and asks her to help with a project, saying that they want to take the production in a little different direction, but that Tom and Julia can’t know anything about it yet. This “different direction” involves a warehouse studio in Brooklyn that comes complete with Ryan Tedder, a revolving bed, and a bunch of creepy bemasked dancers. Karen is a bit reticent about going behind Tom and Julia’s backs, saying she can’t figure these people and their politics out.
Funny she should mention politics, because Dev has his own issues on that front. Remember that dude that was in the running for the job Dev wants? Well, despite some intel from hottie RJ — in whom Dev is not AT ALL interested, according to him — about the competition pulling a full-on Anthony Weiner on a 17 year-old, it looks like Dev is outclassed, because the evidence of said misdemeanor disappears when handed over to the Mayor’s Chief of Staff. I am completely overcome with the inability to give even the tiniest shit about this storyline. Karen does learn to make passable curry though, so… yay?
3. CW: Remember how Eileen was getting a new apartment downtown? Well, she’s moved in, but she does not have any furniture other than a card table and a couple of folding chairs. When CW shows up there to drop off some more work from Tom and Julia, he overhears her talking with Director D-bag about Karen. He tattles to Tom about this, who instructs him to deliver something to her the next day as well to try and garner some more information.
Because everything he has done hitherto does not make him quite repulsive enough, CW tells his girlfriend (I know, right?) that Tom — who let him keep his job even AFTER the Youtube fiasco — is a loser, and so is Ivy and Julia and mostly everyone who isn’t him or Eileen. He announces that he wants to be a producer.
Still not content with his level of skeeviness, he tells Ivy about the thing Director D-bag and Eileen have been up to with Karen, and sneaks her in there to watch. Once everything inevitably goes to shit, HE’S the one who tells everyone they’ll schedule a meeting tomorrow so everyone can cool off, and he gets into Eileen’s car and leaves with her, where she apparently offers him a job as her assistant, because when Tom and Julia leave their meeting with Eileen the next day, there he is, working his new job without so much as having let Tom know. WHAT A COCK-WEASEL!!!!!!!!
4. Eileen: She and her furniture-less apartment get a surprise visit from her daughter, “Mahatma” Katie, so-dubbed because she is all saintly and shit about not spending money and helping those less fortunate and doing good in the world and making sure fish can safely spawn. Apparently Jerry has hidden a bunch of assets, to the tune of $3 million, in Katie’s trust fund, which immediately leads her to the correct assumption that Jerry is just fucking with Eileen. Katie tries to broker some civil discourse between Jerry and Eileen, but there is no martini at hand to throw at him, so the accords break down. So Katie — after delivering a lecture to Eileen about not becoming like Jerry (who is her father, and she loves him, but he’s an arsehole), totally furnishes and decorates her mother’s apartment with the money Jerry pumped into her trust fund before running off to Alaska to count wild salmon. Because evidently that’s an actual thing. I sure hope Eileen likes the decor.
5. The (Failed) Experiment: So Eileen and Director D-bag have Tom and Julia come to see the “possible new direction” for the production that they’ve been working on with a different songwriter, because they (correctly) assumed that T & J wouldn’t be open to it “in the abstract.” This new direction calls for Karen to sing “Touch Me” while looking alternately turned on and creeped out by the masked dancers that are making grabs for her, all while writhing around on a bed and tossing her hair a lot as the bed becomes a cage before she collapses onto it.
Tom and Julia are understandably unimpressed. Karen knew this was being done without their sanction, but is still for some reason surprised when they are upset with her. Ryan Tedder is more understandably confused, as he didn’t realize that Director D-bag had him pissing in someone else’s sandbox. Ivy is secretly delighted as she leaves, but not before condescending to Karen about how it’s a tough business, and of course she understands why Karen would “stab T & J in the back.”
Tom stays behind after everyone else leaves to have a knock-down drag-out argument with Director D-bag. During the course of the discussion, we learn that they were friends and worked on another production together some 11 years earlier that was panned by critics. Tom accuses Director D-bag of badmouthing him all over town, trying to ruin his career, and of having a critic (whose only praise for the failed production was Derek’s directing) in his pocket. Oh, wait — not so much “in his pocket” as “in Derek’s father’s bed.” I was gonna say “Rimshot!”, but given the context, that seems a little… um, on the nose.
Director D-bag takes a few shots of his own, about how “the gays” have a stranglehold on musical theater, but kind of has a point when he lays it out about Marilyn: she was a drug-addicted sex icon, not some innocent little gay male fantasy.
In the end, Eileen decides that they were wrong to try and hijack the production, and she thinks T & J should stay as the writers, but she tells them that they need to be realistic: if they are going to bring this to Broadway, they need to have a star in the role of Marilyn.
6. Ivy: Ivy tries to stay positive on the face of it, but it’s obvious at dance class and as she works her ass off at the gym and avoids calls that not hearing anything is eating at her. To cheer her up, her dance/chorus friends take her out bowling, where they have an impromptu song and dance number. Man, this shit never happens when I go bowling. The most entertainment I can hope for is a leaguer who gets too drunk and passes out across the ball return.
Ivy is initially worried because while Director D-bag and she are “taking a break,” he is working with Karen on this project instead of her. Ivy is mollified when Karen’s big production number goes over like a turd in the punch bowl, but Tom has to break the news to her that they’ll be replacing her in “Marilyn” with someone who is a star. Tom tearily tells her that she is welcome back to “Heaven On Earth” whenever she is ready, which I would expect will be post-haste considering she was only making $200 a week on the workshop.
On the heels of that news, Director D-bag comes over to comfort Ivy. Which he does by feeding her a few lines of bullshit about how she was “better than good.” And also, his penis.
So, that’s where we’re at. I’d like to be optimistic and say that the showrunners are recognizing which plot lines are superfluous and/or not working, and are resolving them. I’d also like to be optimistic and give the show a pass on the more scattered storytelling of this week’s episode after the nice, tight narrative we got last week, because it makes a certain amount of sense that everyone is scattered after the workshop kind of bombed.
But I’ve been burned before. Is this really going to be any different than all the other times it’s promised me it wants to change and be a better
It better hope so. Because if it doesn’t, I’m finally gonna leave its ass and hook up with Hawaii Five-O.