This publicity image released by NBC shows actress Jennifer Hudson as Veronica Moore in a scene from the second season of "Smash." "Smash," set in the world of New York theater, stars Debra Messing, Christian Borle and Angelica Huston. Guest stars this season include Jennifer Hudson. (AP Photo/NBC, Will Hart)
Smash

The Miseducation of Anita Hill

Okay, Smash we have to talk!

You’ve legit become an engrossing ensemble show; I actually care about what happens to most of the characters. I want more of them to succeed than I want to perish in hang-gliding accidents now. This is progress. I even am, sometimes, sort of, a little compelled by Karen. (#StillAnIvy) but we have to nip this Jimmy relationship in the bud before it gets going. I can’t.  I can’t. I CAN NOT with this. Jeremy Jordan is great; he sings like a lark and has the face of a young Jeremy Jordan ::swoon::. But this plotline is going nowhere.creep copy

Actually, I’ll tell you exactly where it’s going. If Smash wasn’t getting cancelled at the end of this year (which is it because somebody in Hollywood hates me–I’m looking at you, Girl Who Played Six on Blossom!) the season would end with a cliffhanger where Hit List inexplicably makes it to opening night on Broadway (despite the fact that it is written by amateurs, Off- and off-Off-Broadway are totally viable options, and the book doesn’t exist in this spectral plane). Then Jimmy, being that lovable loser that he is, would OD on X or whatever the kids are taking these days and disappear, leaving only a sad spotlight at curtain call, as Kyle, his floppy-haired footman, and Karen, his corpse bride, take to the streets to search for him, singing a song called “Codependency! (Fuck Yeah!)”

AND

I

CAN’T!

I can’t with Kyle being a lowly manservant, thrown hither and yon to the whims of his chemically dependent, moody friend (who probably has a borderline personality disorder).

Kyle and Bobby. Swoon.

Functional relationships? Matching swoop bangs? Absence of ironing? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I can’t with Karen lap-dogging after any man who is mean to her, just like Uncle Gerald from Iowa. I can’t with Julia castigating herself for all that is wrong with modern theater. I can’t with sad Ivy. And I can’t with Sexy Purlie.

Yes, you heard me. I can’t with this Derek storyline that somehow ends up being resolved not with him being chemical castrated and stuffed into a gimp suit, but rather proven right and competent by doing the one thing that you are NEVER TO DO: he makes JHud dance.

And you know that JHud comes from the Mariah Carey School of Standing Still and Singing. And you know that “I Got Love” was already roused from the moth balls and given glorious new life earlier in the episode when JHud stands still and saaaangs the hell out of it like God and Ossie Davis intended. And yet, for some reason, Derek and Josh Safran put their heads together and decided to Fosse-fy it. They turned every belt into a whisper (Don’t you know Jesus can’t hear you if you use your head voice?) They put JHud in character shoes like she’s a seven-year-old version of Lea Michelle on her first day of tap school. And they choreograph it like the Shady Pines production of Chicago.

And I can’t.

The only thing that would have made me more uncomfortable is if this was a scene from Clarence! The Clarence Thomas Musical and JHud was playing a Anita Hill. Act I closes with a showstopper called “What’s On My Coke (Ain’t No Joke)” ::abandons blog to go feverishly work on the book of said musical. Uses only scraps of paper and glints of light to write on because I am a poor gay striver and I exist primarily as a function of the whims of my straight counterparts (and sometimes in the novel The Hours).::

This publicity image released by NBC shows actress Jennifer Hudson as Veronica Moore in a scene from the second season of "Smash." "Smash," set in the world of New York theater, stars Debra Messing, Christian Borle and Angelica Huston. Guest stars this season include Jennifer Hudson.  (AP Photo/NBC, Will Hart)

100% not here for these Gwen Verdon shenanigans.

This is unacceptable.

Seriously, ladies and gays of Smash, can we please work on your self-actualization? There are like 2.25 straight men on this show and you’re all cow-towing to them. Porquoi?
This is professional theater, ladies and gays–your kingdom. Has any of those straight men every hit a high E on a belt or run into Michael Musto at a bathhouse? No, they have not. But you have. Who run the world? Gurls.

The only place ladies and gay have more power than professional theater is the dressing room at H&M, where one’s actual perception of reality is bent to the iron will of the surly staff. H&M is like Oz (both the magical land and the prison). I love how H&M even has a special “Real life” lighting, like “You may think you can see what things look like out there, in the ‘world’, but bitch you have no idea. Now buy these red skinny jeans before I shank the fuck out of you.”

I need y’all to rise up, ladies and gay! I need Ivy to own her fierceness. PLEASE. For instance, she rushes in to fill in at JHud’s concert and, upon seeing Karen, apologizes for her pressence.

Exsqueeze?!

Why is Ivy apologizing to Karen for taking a J-O-B? The market ain’t what it used to be, people are cutting back, you gotta catch as catch can.  If she hadn’t gotten this job on “Ronnie Moore Serves You Fosse’s Corpse” she would’ve had to make money selling her hair to French prostitutes or baking kitties into pies. What I’m saying is times is hard, times is haaaaaaard.

::applause break::

Seriously though, Ivy is a Broadway veteran! Stand up for yourself, girl! Karen was a last minute choice to star in an out-of-town tryout of a failed musical. Even I’ve done that. Ivy needs to go on Iyanla Vanzant‘s show and work out these inferiority issues. I am over meek Ivy. Own your life, woman! It’s like she’s playing Celie in an all-white version of The Color Purple (working title:  Beige.) Derek is playing Mister; Justin Beiber is Harpo; Adele is Miss Sophia; and I’m in the front row getting my life!

::praise break::

My one saving grace is the regal presence of Miss Deena Jones herself, the mother of an entire generation of on-screen singers from Moesha to Lauryn Hill’s surly Catholic school girl in Sister Act: Miss Sheryl Lee Ralph! Hallelujah!sheryl

I love that she comes striding in all shoulder pads and clear understanding of the hierarchy of needs. I love that she is essentially playing an alternate universe version of her character in Sister Act 2: Gangstas Paradise, complete with pursed lips, crushed dreams of a singing career that she takes out on her daughter and a revelatory moment of shiny-eyed pride during a concert at the end.

After a season of compulsive poor decision making from every character, Ms. Sheryl Lee takes these ladies and gays to school, Sister Mary Clarence-style. Derek’s sexual hangups? Not here for that. Drugged out white boy angst? Not here for that. Just write the damn song, thanks. Karen v. Ivy? Here for that, I am not. If you wanna be somebody, if you wanna go somewhere, you better sit on that stool and sing backup for my daughter!

Class dismissed! See you next week.

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Smash

No Mo’ Drama!

Hey guys, do you remember that time Debra Messing was a cast member on Smash? Sure you do! She dressed like she was playing the Witch in a community theater production of Into the Woods that was set in modern day Seattle. She had a son and a husband, both of which were figments of a long national nightmare. She played a semi-broken harridan, hell-bent on destroying anything she ever created like some Upper East Side Medea. Good times! So glad that’s over.

I've been reading a book by Gloria Steinem. Oops, sorry, not reading--I meant burning.

I’ve been reading a book by Gloria Steinem. Oops, sorry, not reading–I meant burning.

Now she’s co-starring in a new romantic comedy called “No Mo’ Drama(turg)” about the blossoming love affair between a handsome “multicultural” maverick and a priggish librarian named Marion.

Librarian or playwright?! I am SO CONFUSED!

What’s that? Oh excuse me, she’s actually portraying a playwright named Julia. Librarians have hats; writers have glasses.

Anyway, No Mo’ Drama is airing mini-sodes during regular episodes of the newly revamped television show Smash (you’re going to love it! It’s like if Felicity went to Tisch!).

For real, though, separating Julia from the action was the best thing that could ever have happened to her. I mean, when we first glimpsed her this season she was sequestered to Tom’s couch, chewing her own hair. Then, apparently, it became an important plot point that she had forgotten to write any actual words for Bombshell. That’s what happens when you go to the Phillip Glass retrospective at Lincoln Center; shit gets in your brain.

And so it was with some trepidation that I approached the dramaturg subplot in the last two episodes, because I felt like it was going to be even more Julia-bashing. Turns out, surprise surprise, it’s actually just You’ve Got Mail but with nerds! As with any romcom, however, the protagonists have to start out hating each other. Julia and Tom’s reaction to this hot-ass dramaturg is patently ridiculous. Hillary Clinton looked like she was having more fun at the Bengazi hearings than these two did.

Pictured (l to r) Eileen, Eileen's bangs, the Dramaturg, the dramaturg's pecs, JHud, JHud's Coretta Scott King wig, SOMEONE WITH NO FACE, Julia, Tom, Ann Harada.

Pictured (l to r) Eileen, Eileen’s bangs, the Dramaturg, the dramaturg’s pecs, JHud, JHud’s Coretta Scott King wig, SOMEONE WITH NO FACE, Julia, Tom, Ann Harada.

And the characterization of this guy didn’t help. Apparently, you can tell he’s a dramaturg because he uses pour-over coffee like some hipster asshat and has piles of books just sitting on tables around his apartment. He’s essentially me with a massively better hairline.

SMoving on! He spends the better part of the first episode just pede-conferencing around Times Square arguing with Julia like they’re a couple of tourists from Iowa looking for Guy’s American Kitchen. My favorite part of that whole scene was how Julia tries to defend her choices using some sort of hackneyed, secondwave feminism-lite and it’s ABSOLUTELY just Imagined Theresa Rebeck lip-syncing for her life. Sashay away with your domestic troubles, ma’am. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Julia (Debra Messing) and The Dramaturg (Daniel Sunjata) inexplicably fight in Times Square.

Apparently the Empire State Building and Central Park were booked.

Things do, I must say, take a turn for the better after the Times Square debacle. The Dramaturg (he has a name, I’m sure of it, but I can’t be bothered to learn it–I have a day job, dammit!) convinces Julia to write a new scene for the musical. It’s fine, I guess, although I was confused about why it was a scene between Marilyn and Mark Wahlberg from The Departed. But whatever, I love that movie.

I have to say, though, I’m glad that the most recent ep pushed the writing and such to the backseat and brought the romance to the fore because I don’t care about the dramaturg subplot. I am truly ambivalent about whether Bombshell is good or not; all I really care about is seeing attractive people kiss and be happy.

What Bombshell needs is a locker room shower scene.

What Bombshell needs is a locker room shower scene.

Which is not to say the dramaturgs or dramaturgy aren’t attractive.

My friend James called Daniel Sunjata the second best looking dramaturg he’s ever seen. And I believe it. Smart is sexy. And you know what’s even sexier? Telling me what the hell is wrong with Act 3.

Not knowing who James was talking about, I immediately wanted to text him and be like, “Dish! Spill! Imperative noun/verb colloquialism.” But I’ve been taking my meds lately so I restrained myself.

Instead, I started making a list of my own. I know a quite few very attractive d’turgs!  (I’m looking at you, Jeremy Stoller.) And, also, one very handsome sommelier. Which is neither here nor there but I included him because when am I ever going to make a list if attractive sommeliers based on an episode of Smash? (Answer: probably next week. Anything is possible on this show)

Oh! That reminds me. Skittle me this: The one sommelier I know always looks impeccable but always needs a manicure, which is strange because the focus of their profession is on their hands. (I’m sure a som would say the focus is on their minds and their mouths but this is a family blog and I don’t truck in that kind of saucy talk.) So the focus is on their hands. Sommeliers are like sign language interpreters for people who find it hard to communicate without a few drinks.

ANYWAY, back to dramaturgy. Another reason that I’m ambivalent about their process is that it seems to involve absolutely no research or actual textual analysis, but rather just banter and yelling, but WHATEVER. I will say, though, that if you change all the names in Hedda Gabler, as was The Dramaturg’s brilliant exercise for his acting class (why is he teaching an acting class, but WHATEVER), it’s, uh, still going to OBVIOUSLY be Hedda Gabler to anyone who went to 9th grade.

But… actually… now that I think about it (I try not to put any thought into what I say before saying it; that’s my processHedda Gabler kind of works as an episode of Damages.

Is the hot dramaturg a genius?!

Omigod my mind is blown. Someone bring me my smelling scarves!

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