Smash

Happy Black History Smonth!

Oh, it’s been so long since we last had a Smash! (That’s what she said!) The last time Smash came on TV was forever ago! An asteroid hadn’t hit the Earth! And I had yet to sell my soul to Robin Wright’s bangs on House of Cards. It’s a different world, Dwayne Wayne.

Previously on Smash: new show runner Josh Safran showed up and was all like “Last season didn’t happen, okay? We burned a scarf, spat on its grave, and lined up so many buses to throw Theresa Rebeck under you would’ve thought it was a student matinee. We’re different!”

And it’s true.

Smash is so different in fact that this episode opens with a scene from Queer as Folk. Karen is…yawn. Sorry. Karen is being held aloft by what looks to be a mass of gyrating and jump-dancing homosexuals. Pop quiz: Is this is A) Limelight during my freshman year of college (I’m 31, do your own damn math) B) Boys Night Out at Fuerza Bruta (motto: look up… so it’s harder to identify who groped you), or C) the bouncy castle as my son’s Christening (what? I don’t have any straight friends and a petting zoo seemed a little Catholic)?

Hands up if you like Mackelmore and Jager bombs!

Hands up if you like Mackelmore and Jager bombs!

Anywhoozles, this scene is a blah blah dream sequence blah blah Mean Jeremy Jordan zzzzz subplot of intrigue.

Guys, I really wanted to write about Karen this week. I did!  I have so many thoughts about her and about Katherine McPhee (who really hits the riffs in this song snippet with a wallop; that girl should try out for a television singing competition or something). But, listen, I was already sick of her by the time the sexy new credit sequence hit. (That I WILL address that at some point, but suffice to say it was the most enjoyable grand mal seizure I’ve ever had).

Too bad, so sad, Karen. Maybe next episode. (If every other character suddenly dies like this is Downton Abbey or something).

We can however, take a second—Hallelujah—to talk about the triumphant return—Praise your name, Lord—of the only thing keeping this ship sailing (and the only black person any of them know—and yes, I am aware of Tom’s “boyfriend” and no I don’t care). JHUD returns!

And what a return! She’s introduced in a HUGE apartment over-looking Central Park that on most shows signifies that the owner or resident is a mogul of some sort or Patty Hewes or Buzz Aldrin in that one episode of 30 Rock. But, this is Smash-world, which means that someone with a 1999 Audra McDonald level of fame and accomplishment  can totally afford it, too! No (110 in the) shade to Ms. McDonald, but I mean come on. CPWVeronica Chase is supposed to be a 29-year-old Broadway darling, not Alicia Keys. You know in real life she’d still be propped up in a sublet in Brooklyn, selling real estate on weekends.

Smoving on! JHUD is singing! (Because the writers of Smash know which side of the bread their bread is buttered on… what’s that phrase? Where their bread butter comes from? Who brings the boys to the milkyard? Where the dogs got let out from whence? I don’t know.)  ANYWAY, JHUD is singing “Soon As I Get Home” from The Wiz! I’m just going to give you a moment to compose yourself.

Ready?

AAAAGH JHUD in all-white singing the second best song from The Wiz!  Have I died? Am I deceased? Is this my funeral? Because these things are clearly stipulated in my living will? Am I in E. Lynn Heaven?

Jennifer Hudson and her hair

Unbe-weave-able.

It is glorious.

I must admit, however, I’m pulled out of the moment by her Coretta Scott King weave. I know it’s Black History Month, but I am 100% not here for that His Girl Friday cinnamon bun swirl.

Speaking of black hair, I’ve got to go work on my new Good Times-meets-Dark & Lovely drag character, Madame J.J. Walker. I was going to go on and on about, ::cue dramatic music:: THE DRAMATURG, but that’ll have to wait til tomorrow.

Happy Black History Smonth!

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Eileen reviews Karen's resume. Lacking.
Smash

Famed Angelica Houston Impersonator Angelica Houston

Most Great Television is created by imagining a very specific, unique world and populating it with characters that can exist only there. Like Seinfeld: those characters don’t work anywhere else, but they make perfect sense together. Smash is not Great Television, but it is great television and what’s greatest about this show is that the characters don’t just come from a different world, they come from many different worlds. In fact, there isn’t a single character that exists in the same universe as any of the others. Smash is put together like a ransom note. You’ve got Tom, who comes from a West Elm catalogue and is just as multi-dimensional. You’ve got Julia, who came from an open-call audition for Grizzabella the Glamour Cat. You’ve got Ivy who came straight from Broadway, gat-demmit, and is better than absolutely all of this. You’ve got Jennifer Hudson who came from being Jennifer Hudson (and as my friend Barry says, “acts better in the Weight Watchers commercial.” Damn. Hurts, but it’s true.) There’s a Smobster bartender! There’s separated-at-birth twin gays! There’s Real Life Jordan Roth! And then there’s Maude!

Eileen is 100% not here for your moderately-priced haircut.

Eileen is 100% not here for your moderately-priced haircut.

And by Maude, of course, I mean the that tsunami of sass, the sultan of smirk, the drink-throwing, head-swivelling “producer” known as Eileen, played by famed Angelica Houston impersonator Angelica Houston. Eileen is on a planet all her own. And she’s the only character who seems to realize that she doesn’t know where the hell she is, how the hell she got here or who the hell all these people are.  Every time she shows up on screen everything stop making sense, which is kind of an issue for Smash as she is the engine of the plot. But who cares about plot?!

What I love most about famed Angelica Houston impersonator Angelica Houston’s portrayal of Eileen is that she’s serving you everything even though you didn’t order it. She’s giving you The Witches meets Big Business all day free of charge and the least you can do is say “thank you”. She took time off from being Wes Anderson’s Vice-Muse (she fills in any time Jason Schwartzman is sick) to let you catch the breeze from her swinging bob; breathe deep.

The Witches plus Big Business equals Smash

RIP Ellis.

I love that she doesn’t even try to clarify any of Eileen’s actions with her acting choices. I read once that whenever Cher gets a script she crosses out all of the notes or scene directions because she likes to invent the character on her own (with the help of a broken mirror ball and an orangutan dramaturg wearing a Bob Mackie gown). I like to believe that famed Angelica Houston impersonator Angelica Houston does the same thing. Safran delivers the latest Smash script and she spends a half an hour crossing out any line readings for Eileen and replacing them with the words “smug bemusement“.

Angelica Houston, master of ropes

“I don’t care where the camera is. I’ll look wherever I please! I won an Oscar for ‘Prizzi’s Honor’ for God’s sake.”

That I can accept.

What I can’t accept, however, is this ex-husband character. First of all, Eileen’s struggle to assert her independence is not an interesting plotline when it consists primarily of her wasting good vodka and being rescued by another man. Why can’t this woman have any autonomy? How did she manage to get this far without a lick of business sense? Why does she think all problems can be solved by striding triumphantly and making broad declarations? Has she been watching too much Scandal? (Impossible. There is no such thing as too much Scandal.)

Moreover, the ex-husband isn’t even interesting in a dastardly way. He’s just slinking around like Gollum, wasting screen time that should be spent letting Megan Hilty sing everyone else off the screen, down the street and into the next cab back to Los Angeles.

Eileen reviews Karen's resume. Lacking.

Definition of “lacking”. Eileen doesn’t see anything she likes. Maybe that cute Thai place down the street?

I don’t understand it from a screenwriting point-of-view. What purpose is he serving? I mean, if there were a primetime drama about my life would you see my crazy ex Clarence hanging around all creepy-like, setting bugs on fire with a magnifying glass and being questioned by the police in relation to a string of mysterious pet-nappings? Of course you would! Because that shit is actually interesting and Clarence refuses to go away. And if you’re reading this, Clarence, don’t. Because I told you not to. And don’t you dare comment. I don’t have time for these shenanigans. I’m in tech!

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Smash

Musical Notes: Episode 2

Ah, but, Smash giveth and Smash taketh away.  The second hour of the two-hour premiere was notably talk-heavy, inexcusably JHud-deficient and when characters did start singing… well, ladies and Gays–the gamut:

(Notes on Episode 1 here)

“Would I Lie To You”

Bomb or Bombshell? Bomb.

Let’s never speak of this again.

derek

Why do you hate me so much, Smash?

Seriously, what happened here?  Derek (who is suddenly a despondent alcoholic) gets involved in a fairly unnecessary altercation when he tries to hit on a woman who apparently can’t speak for herself (chivalry!  Or, you know, blatant chauvinism.) and gets knocked over, prompting a dream sequence?  This is some 3rd season Gleelevel stuff. Bubblegum pink stilettos and Robert Palmer homages are jarring enough without the added burden of trying to apply context.  Why are Ivy and Karen singing this to Derek? They haven’t accused him of harassment. What is this telling me about character or plot? It’s so well-sung (especially by Hilty who really lays some sass on it) and the choreography and art direction is great; McPhee is gorgeous as always. But I just don’t know why this is happening. There must be some better way to get into Derek’s psyche. Not that I care about Derek’s psyche. I’m happy with him laying constant verbal smackdowns on Tom (how boring is this guy? He’s the only gay and yet he’s being out-sassed by a Brit).

If this is what occurs when Derek dreams, my prayer for him this season is consciousness. Sustained, unadorned, consciousness.

“Caught In A Storm”

Bomb or Bombshell? Bombshell, I’d say.  This Pasek and Paul ditty really fits McPhee’s voice; it’s radio-friendly and fills out this awful Jeremy Jordan character’s CV nicely.

That said, this scene was just so preposterous I couldn’t give the song a decent listen until finding it isolated on YouTube. Karen, hunty, you are in the theater community at a party full of theater professionals who sing, dance, act, and otherwise perform for a living. Nobody needs you to suddenly burst into song uninvited. I know we’re supposed to think of you as Sutton Foster, but you’re not. And I’m sure after Thoroughly Modern Millie opened even Sutton didn’t go strutting into unwallpapered Brooklyn tenements going “Sup hipsters, who wants to hear ‘When I Marry Mr. Snow?'”

In conclusion, I’m going need Karen to jump off Jeremy Jordan’s nuts, hop back on the G train and take any seat available.

“They Just Keep Moving The Line”

Bomb or Bombshell? Oh, Smash! You lulled me into a stupor with your strange songs and your absurd plot developments and your easily circumvented challenges (Hi, Margo Martindale! We just going to pop up on that stage for a sec. Kthnxbai.) And then, BAM, you hit me with this and I’m crying in public again!  Hilty completely hits this one out of the park. I heard a rumor that she’s been nominated for a Special Tony in Completely Shutting The Shit Down.  Tears, tears at the side of my face.

Phenomenal lyrics, a gorgeous bluesy score that gradually builds to one of the most satisfying crescendos this show has produced. This is Ivy’s “Don’t Forget Me”.

Hilty vocal performance is unimpeachable here; a masterpiece. She gives hardcore “Maybe This Time” realness here. I told my boyfriend I want this played at our wedding; I DON’T CARE THAT IT’S NOT APPROPRIATE.  I will haves it!

Let’s just listen to it on repeat until the next episode comes on.

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Smash

Musical Notes: Episode 1

Okay.  I might start crying at a few points over the next few paragraphs.  I fucking love the music on Smash.  This is completely unabashed.  There are no abashes here.  Unlike the way I feel about the music on Glee or about my kids, my love for the music on Smash is unconditional.  There.  I said it.

True, I could probs go the rest of my life without hearing “20th Century Fox Mambo” and I imagine when “History Is Made At Night” begins at the inevitable Broadway production (or the production put together in my living room by 6 of my gay friends–everyone is Marilyn), I’ll use that opportunity to find the bathroom. But if you try to tell me that “Let Me Be Your Star” isn’t one of the greatest, most well-constructed musical theater songs of the last decade I will shout you down. I will shout you down like I’m Thaddeus Stevens on the floor of Congress.  What I’m saying, basically, is if you don’t like the music on Smashyou’re racist.

Tommy Lee makes a passionate case for the Hilty Marilyn... and the abolition of slavery, or whatever.

Tommy Lee makes a passionate case for the Hilty Marilyn… and the abolition of slavery, or whatever.

Truth: when I lost my job last year, I listened to “Don’t Forget Me” on repeat for DAYS.  Wandering the streets like Fantine, mouthing the words, raising my arms like Evita.  I put it on my resume.  Not even, like, under special skills.  Like “Here are some lyrics that I feel represent where I am in life right now.”  I highly recommend this as a form of self care.

Legit, Shaiman and Whitman are phenomenal and their songs lifted the sometimes rocky, always ridiculous first season of America’s favorite hour of theater-related television to an impressive level.  The other songs… not so much. Two words: “Redneck Woman”.  That said, I downloaded “I’m Going Down” and “Cheers (I’ll Drink To That)” with a quickness, and, honestly, the latter took place in the single most inexcusably absurd moments in the whole season.

ANYWAY, Season 2 started off on a particularly high note. (see what I did there? I have a degree in English.)

“Cut, Print, Moving On”

Bomb or Bombshell?  Definitely a Bombshell.  But one of fairly little consequence, like Jessica Biel.  Or Jessica Alba.  Or Jessica Tandy.  It’s a whiff, a fleeting aroma; a palate cleanser.  The lyrics work harder than the music, but it does it’s job as a transition song.

I’m guessing that it’s the second act opener and McPhee is giving me hardcore “Thank Goodness” stylings, which is saying something.  I don’t like to come down one way or another in the Who’s Your Marilyn debate, but I think it’s fair to say that Hilty is the better belter and on Broadway, belter’s rule. This song isn’t in McPhee’s wheelhouse, but she sells it to me.

“Mama Makes Three”

Bomb or Bombshell? As you might have guessed from my earlier post this song is EVERYTHING I need it to be!  It’s perfect.  It’s a fantastic song for JHud’s voice, it falls into the grand tradition of Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Smokey Joe’s, it devolves into gospel reverie that could LITERALLY GO ON FOREVER for all I care.

What’s also great about this song is that it tells a story with music and lyrics that are equally clever.  It doesn’t have the burden of doing a lot of Smash-related plot development; it just has to be amazing.  Hilty can take it to church (though, strangely, it was McPhee who actually sang at the church, but whatever), still this show has been missing this level of sass.  LOVED it.

“On Broadway”

Bomb or Bombshell? Hudson hits it out of the park again!  Plus, we get an American Idol reunion (P. to the S., bring on Kelly Clarkson and I will literally wet my pants.)  At first I thought that McPhee was going to be stuck backing JHud up the entire time, which I was totally fine with as JHud was devouring notes and snatches weaves from jump.  That said, it was nice to see Katherine get her “Michelle Williams” moment to shine before being eclipsed once again.

“Don’t Dream It’s Over”

Bomb or Bombshell? I kind of want to say Bomb…ish. Yo, dawg, I love Hilty to bits, but I forgot this song was even on the episode.  It just didn’t do it for me, dawg.  I’m pretty sure I used this montage as an opportunity to get another gallon of ice cream. Plus, I’m really tired of sad Ivy. What purpose is making her miserable serving dramatically?

That said, I think it definitely does it’s job, plot-wise.  Plus, I like that Ivy is singing it at an audition.  So points for song choice.

“Broadway Here I Come”

Bomb or Bombshell? Well, Bomb in that it exploded my ovaries.  Bombshell in that it’s an awesome song, sumptuously sung by Jeremy Jordan.  I’m totally conflicted about his character (and by conflicted I mean I hate the character and want nothing but terrible things to befall him) but this song, this song I’m in love with.  It does such a good job in the plot/character development department, though I am not in love with the fact that it turns Karen into a crazy stalker. Is this the only song in New York?  Really?  And are people calling up Rob Marshall at 4 a.m. going “Listen to 3 bars of this song played on an upright piano in a room with terrible acoustics! Should I reserve the St. James right now or do you want to do that?”  Whatever, Smash; at least you’re pretty.

(Notes on the second half of the episode here.)

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Smash

Smating Ritual

Gotta say, I am not smoved by the various love connections, awkward rehearsal-room trysts and tech-related proposals on Season 1 of Smash. Now I love a televised love story; every Thursday I curl up with a bucket of Chai tea and 6 to 10 orders of General Tso’s Chicken and gently encourage my girl Olivia Pope to try to make it work with her boyfriend, The President of the United States (who was in a coma but then woke up suddenly because plot-development and is now fine even though he got shot in the head–it happens–but maybe has a different personality and wants to divorce his pregnant Lady Macbeth wife, which, I don’t know, I’m no Shakespeare scholar, but something tells me it’s not going to go well.)  Oh, Scandal!  Why you so good?!

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) Oliva Pope (center) struggles valiantly to restrain her pimp-slapping hand.

Oliva Pope (center) struggles valiantly to restrain her pimp-slapping hand.

Anyway! Smash is many things, but it is no Scandal and so I am ambivalent about whether Derek and Ivy end up together (will it make her stop her doing drugs and free her up to cause havoc? If the answer is anything but yes, I don’t care). I didn’t hate Season 1‘s resident doormat Dev, who was in love with Karen but then resented her for her sudden “theater career” (I use that word with the same level of cigarette smoke-tinged irony  that I use when referring to my own “theater career“) and the slept with her rival (“Of all the bars in all the world, you had to walk into… this creepy Southie dive?  Okay. Sure.”) and then proposed.  I may be getting the order wrong but that’s because it doesn’t matter.

None of the relationships on Smash matter. It’s like they’re all just “theater changing” in front of each other—yeah, your private parts are out, but it’s of little consequence because you’re artists.  And you’re drunk in the back of a cab on your way home from Don’t Tell Mama or whatever.  And you’re all probably gay anyway.

Which brings me to my point!  The homosexuals!  I love a good gay subplot.  I wish it was the main plot, but we live in America not Brokeback Mountain and it gets better, but don’t get carried away.  Love love love!  When the 8th episode of the new Kevin Spacey Netflix series House of Cards took a sudden detour into the Forest of Repressed Same-Sex Attraction I was immediately Clap-Your-Hands-Happy, even though it didn’t make a bit of sense.

Kevin Spacey and Kevin Federline

I have no idea what this photo is from (real life? a movie? A Claymation special called “Kevin Federline resorts to desperate measures to make ends meet”? Who knows?)

 

Who cares about making sense? If God wanted gay relays (can we just call relationships “relays”? I can’t doing all this typing.  I have a day job, dammit)… What? Oh, if God wanted gay relays to make sense… oh, whatever, I lost interest in the joke.

I really want to be invested in Tom’s love life but I also really want to be invested in Exxon stock. It’s just so boring (Tom’s love life, not Exxon. If Dallas has taught us anything it’s that the oil business is scintillating. And that shower stalls sometimes contain holes in the space-time continuum.).

I’m just going to say it: Tom is the most boring gay I know. And I know two gay architects and a gay vetrenarian. Veteranarian. Vetrerenarian. A doctor for animals. When Tom shows up on screen I immediately develop Snarkolepsy, a serious condition which makes me fall asleep and dream of a time when Will & Grace was still on the air and I didn’t have to deal with these nouveau gay hoes. Apparently the latest development in social justice for the homosexual community is the privilege of being portrayed with all the blandness of a sitcom dad. That’s the issue with ham-fisted political correctness (whether well-intentioned or not): it robs you of the ability to create compelling characters for fear of offending.

Anyway! You didn’t ask to read my SMasters thesis (10s across the board).  The point is Tom is a blander than Instant Grits (I’ve been reading The Pioneer Woman!).

Like when he was dating the politician (side note: I don’t like when shows that are not The West Wing have characters that are in politics, because I always feel like they’re not walking and talking fast enough. If you’re not competing in an Olympic sport called “Express Expositing” you’re not really in government.)

Anyway! Tom and the politician were so bored by each that they couldn’t even figure out how to have sex. Which… Okay, can we have a smoment?  There’s  scene where they’re lying side-by-side staring at the ceiling (which is network television code for “we’ve just finished making the beast with two backs”) except… no, that is clearly not what has happened!  Perhaps they’ve just finished reading passages from Tenth of December to each other or discussing paint swatches or running lines from The Country Wife, but they were definitely not smating.

It's not going to suck itself.

It’s not going to suck itself.

What kind of gay sex are they having where upon completion one just rolls off the other and everyone stares soulfully into the air having thoughts? Tom is so boring he doesn’t even know that the point of having a upholstered headboard is so that you can slam various body parts against it for hours on end without injury. But what do I know? Oh, that’s right: EVERYTHING.

Is Tom a neuter? I’m asking a serious question!  Is he a Ken doll?  How is he not spontaneously combusting with arousal over being in flagrante delicto with that total dreamsicle Neal Bledsoe, who is—No Shade—Too Hot For Tom.

Ugh, now I’m just being bitchy. Sorry. I’m a stickler for sex accuracy.  This whole thing has me plum tuckered out.  I was going to go on about Tom’s new boyfriend “Black Man Who Dances and Likes Football” (actual name irrelevant) but I need to go rest my eyes for a spell.

Lord. These hoes.

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Smash

Was Jenifer Lewis Unavailable?

I would like to now have a symposium about the scene that introduces JHud to Smash and changes everything on Earth for the better.  I am unabashedly a Jennifer Hudson stan from wayback.  I love every damn thing about her.  Every damn thing.  I’m obsessed with Beyonce in a seriously unhealthy way but, magically, there’s a place in my heart that even King B can’t touch.  And in that place JHud lives. Dammit, I’m already digressing.

Anyway, JHud’s character, who probably has a name (Veronica sounds about right, but who cares?  Her name is JHud. Why are we still discussing this?), is introduced singing a huge showstopper from what is supposed to be the Big Broadway SMusical, a concoction called Beautiful… which… is… everything.

Smash 201 Jennifer Hudson

Category is “Everything”. Tens across the board.

Oh, so much!  Here’s 4 things.

1. Apparently it’s set in the 50s and focuses on a singer who has an over-bearing mother.  The actress playing this role is giving hardcore Melba Moore realness, strutting around and pulling all manner of sidelong glances and disapproving lip purses, but I can’t help but miss Jenifer Lewis, star of Jackie’s Back and the resident expert on playing Black Women of  a Certain Age Who Ain’t Got Time For Your Shit.

You might also remember her from What’s Love Got To Do With It  as Tina Turner’s mother (Who Ain’t Got Time For Ike’s Shit), Nora’s Hair Salon as Nora (Who Ain’t Got Time For Your Shitty Weave) or The Princess and the Frog as Mama Odie (Who Ain’t Got Time For No Voodoo Shit).  Anyway, JLew was busy playing an angry receptionist or mean auntie in a Madea movie because the actress playing JHud’s mama in this musical is not her.  But she’s fine.  Smoving on.

2. The song is really quite good, as most of the original songs on Smash are.  There are about 15, 20 Equity dancers in zoot suits and dapper chapeaus flipping, jumping and jiving all over the stage in a way that is positively exhausting.  And then, right in the center, is JHud, hip popped like “I dare you to suggest some choreography.”

I LOVE that she comes from the Mariah Carey school of divas, where the motto engraved above the Aretha Franklin Student Center and Black Box Theater is “If you’re looking for a dancer; you should probably call Alvin Ailey.”

Aretha Franklin works out.

“Miss Franklin is going to need a break to rest after this, thanks.”

These ladies show up, stand up, sing and sit down.  They might give you a hand gesture, but none of that Celine Dion Expressive Stewardess shit.  That costs extra.  

3. Smidway through the song I thought to myself, I’d see this show.  Which is insane because I have no idea what it’s about, how far into the plot this song comes, whether it’s available on TKTS, or who the male lead is (probably Joshua Henry or Brandon Victor Dixon, but what if they make some janky stunt casting choice like when they had Ashanti do The Wiz and it was all I could not to run on stage at the City Center and beat her to a pulp with the lifeless body of her career?  What then?)

Ashanti & the Yellow Brick Road at City Center. :-(

Ashanti & the Yellow Brick Road at City Center. 😦

The poster for this Big Broadway Smusical is so strange to me: it’s just JHud’s HUGE BEAUTIFUL FACE and the word “Beautiful”. Which, now that I think about it, may not even be the name of the show.  It could be a quote from the Times–Isherwood has been especially effusive lately.

It could be the way that you spell Veronica in Smash-world, a crazy mixed up Seussical where Bernadette Peters doesn’t exist, audiences react with stunned silence when the lead dies at the end of an biographical musical about a PERSON WHO IS ALREADY DEAD, and a Broadway veteran who ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE Marilyn Monroe and sings like GD Megan Hilty has to fight for the part of Marilyn against a girl who got off the train from Iowa four minutes ago and was like three minutes away from being sold into White Slavery like that one episode of SVU.  That episode was sad.

Or, it could be just a description of the God’s Honest Truth, Okay?  Anyway, it says Beautiful and I say, “Do you have a Rush Ticket policy?”  Cuz you know I ain’t got no money.

4. There’s a scene, after the musical number, in JHud’s dressing room.  She’s removed her wig to reveal a weave that is so far up her forehead I have no choice but to deem it a Solange.  What is happening here?  Minutes ago she looked perfectly normal, now she’s giving me Myrtle, The Woman Whose Bangs Ran Away From Her Eyebrows.  (That’s a thing that can happen.  I read it.)  ANYWAY.  That’s not even the point.  The point is, after she delivers Katherine McPhee some sage advice whilst applying eye makeup (as you do), she exits the dressing room into a sea of exploding flash bulbs, telling McPhee “Get ready, this will be you soon.”

Question: Who is taking these pictures?  And why do they make flash sounds?  Clearly she is walking into a throng of ladies and gays who have travelled all the way to New York by BUS, singing in harmony from Wicked the entire time (Dreamgirls if they’re black. Into the Woods if they want to be my best friends ever) and they are using their iPhones to take pictures. So whence the flash noises?  Maybe that’s the stage door that leads to a whole in the time space continuum. I mean, it makes sense. She says in the scene prior that she’s about to star in The Wiz and I know from the previews that at some point this season she’s going to sing the signature song from Purlie: clearly nothing of import has happened in Black Musical Theater since 1979.

I wonder if Tyler Perry can sing.

Dancing’s gonna cost you extra, though.

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Paging Salome

Can I just start off by noting how refreshing it is to see Debra Messing’s Julia freed from her crazy woman schmata in Season 2 of Smash?  Last season she was drowning in shrouds and ponchos and bangles and scarves and oversized glasses (we get it: you’re a middle-aged woman who writes for a living. Your vision is poor. Let’s.  Move. On.  We get 44 precious Sminutes a week and you’re spending a half hour fumbling with your eyewear?  I digress.).

Julia (Debra Messing) is delighted because her back is to the mirror.

No one has ever looked this happy in The Shroud of Turin before.

We all know that she was the stand-in for former showrunner and noted accessory aficionado Theresa Rebeck, but by the time Bombshell finally opened in Boston, all of Julia’s lines were being delivered by a pile of wrinkled pashminas.

Theresa Rebeck's collection of scarves.

Theresa Rebeck won a Special Tony for dramatic scarf-swooshing

Worry not, though: new showrunner Josh Safran has banished the scarves, the loose-knit sweaters, the capes!  I imagine it was sort of like the end of The Wiz where Luther Vandross starts singing and all the black people get weirdly semi-naked and you’re watching it for the billionth time at your cousin Poochie’s house and you’re 9 years-old and you’re stealing side-long glances at your Aunt Beneatha, thinking, I feel like the pastor would not approve of this, but she’s just happily humming along because Luther Vandross is a saint and black nudity wasn’t a big deal in the 70s you guess…

INAPPROPRIATE.

INAPPROPRIATE.

ANYWAY, it’s nice to see the stunning D.Mess look stunning and not so much like the Bird Lady from Home Alone 2.  Smoving on.

Okay. Wait. That Bird Lady comparison was weak and imprecise. I’m pulling down the “No Shade” shade here, okay?

No Shade but Season 1 Julia actually dresses just like the one and only Meryl Streep. It’s like they’re the only two social pariahs frequenting  the most annoying boutique on the UES.  No, they don’t shop; they dither. Smeryl may be the best actress to ever live but she’s also that kooky lady who holds up the line at Ten Thousand Villages telling an incomprehensible story about some janky necklace whilst digging in her purse for her clownishly large glasses.

We get it: you cannot see, you’re obsessed with draping fabrics and your spirit animal is Nancy Meyers. Smoving on!

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