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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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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