Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee). That’s who was chosen to portray Marilyn Monroe in ‘Bombshell’ as the NBC show Smash closed out its freshman season last night. Looking back, Smash turned out to be more of a shin-splint marathon rather than a quick easy sprint. It never quite recovered the creative footing it kindasorta demonstrated waaaay back in its pilot, and frequently left us shaking our heads, our fists and the clumps of hair we pulled out during moments of (often Ellis inspired) frustration.
At least we knew that we were in good company, though: even The Hulk was creatively dissatisfied going into the finale.
In honour of ‘Bombshell’, we’re doubling up with two bitches instead of one. So how did the finale do?
Let He Said/She Said bitch it out…
He Said (Cinephilactic)
I remember viewing the premiere, fifteen weeks ago, and agreeing with critics – for the most part. I liked the songs, I thought Megan Hilty’s Ivy was a great find, and I appreciated Katherine McPhee’s vocal talents, although not her acting.
Fast forward to the finale, and I can pretty much say the same things. Swap out Julia’s (Debra Messing) adoption woes for her extramarrital affair, Anjelica Huston clearly still has more range than Eileen allows her to play and Jack Davenport’s Derek remains a cad, a douchebag, and yet he somehow also remains one of the show’s best characters.
Still, I’d be remiss to say that I enjoyed the show the way I did the pilot. The continued rivalry between Karen and Ivy dominated the show in a way that I’d hoped it wouldn’t, and the Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman) interlude, while amusing, was ultimately just a stopholder to get us to this: who will it be Marilyn in the finale? To its credit, I didn’t think Smash would reveal who was going onstage until the curtain raised at the end of the episode (so points there). At the same time, however, I can’t give the show too much credit since Ivy’s decision to overdose during Karen’s big final song was a terribly cheesy cliche (and oh-so-Marilyn! Gag).
As always, what I enjoyed most was the backstage mechanics: the rush to fit Karen into ill-fitting costumes, and the last minutes rewrites. The challenging collaboration between Tom (Christian Borle) and Julia would have been nearly perfect if Julia hadn’t patted herself on the back so hard for delivering such an amazing product. Considering everything the beyotch nearly did to derail the whole thing, I’m surprised the crew hasn’t strung her from the rafters by her thumbs. If the finale accomplished one thing, it is to reinforce that my absolute favourite character is no one from the principal cast, but rather Derek’s assistant, Linda (Ann Harada), who always wears a bemused and exasperated expression, like she’s herding cats trying to corral this group of morons towards a finished product.
While I appreciated that Ellis (Jamie Cepero) was disposed of rather expediently, the fact that he escaped on anything other than a gurney and a toe-tag is disappointing. His firing by Eileen was long overdue, but it wasn’t as satisfying as I wanted since it looked like Eileen was almost uncertain of herself. Thankfully her mobster bartender boyfriend was also mostly MIA, so hopefully both he and Ellis will be written out once and for all when the show returns next Winter.
What did you think, TVAngie? I didn’t touch on Dev (Raza Jaffrey) or the curious case of the engagement ring, nor the hilariously awful/convenient blackout/red light stage interaction between Julia and Michael Swift (Will Chase)? Oh Sweet Baby Cheesus, I just remembered (with sinking despair) when Julia oh so subtlely remembered the last time she threw up was with her spawn first born.
I’m also curious, since I know that you’d have to be forced, A Clockwork Orange-style, to ever watch the show again, what could be done to persuade you to revisit this trainwreck when it returns next year? What might that ideal S2 look like?
She Said (TVAngie)
All in all I was pretty underwhelmed by the finale. It came as no surprise that Karen was set to play Marilyn, although I was impressed that she was able to pull it off with all the shizz that happened to her backstage. I can’t imagine it was encouraging for her to hear everyone rumbling about how she couldn’t do it, especially in such explicit terms (ie: Eileen).
I was, however, impressed with all of the backstage antics with wardrobe changes, and tech. I finally felt the true hustle and bustle of what goes on backstage. I also appreciated how Derek was Karen’s cheerleader and wasn’t motivated by what was going on in his pants. It was the first time that I felt he was appropriately fighting for his artistic vision.
I also didn’t expect that Ivy would stoop to the level of ‘supreme bitch’ by telling Karen about her night with Dev with puppy dog eyes, trying to make it sound like she was doing Karen a favour by telling her. I did expect she probably would have used it somewhere down the line, but so soon after? I’m a bit disappointed that the producers chose to paint Ivy this way – I’ve said it throughout the season – the show is more interesting when Karen and Ivy have a less obvious rivalry going on. Again, it just serves to hoist Karen up on an even higher pedestal: how can she not be the right choice when she’s able to learn the entire show (blocking and all) in a matter of hours with all of this personal crap in her ears? It’s clear that the show is rooting for Karen.
As for other storylines: I’m happy that Michael’s wife left him (Karma!). Also, I think the audience did a collective dry heave when teased with the possibility that Julia might be pregnant with his spawn.
I was surprised that you didn’t address the musical numbers, Cinephilactic, as that’s usually something that tends to save the show for me. When Karen started her rendition of “Wolf” again, I thought her vocals were bang on, but it looked like her face had just been injected with botox. It didn’t help anything when the number was intercut with Ivy’s rendition way back when (Read: Ivy was better.) But then Karen warmed up as the choreography picked up and all in all, I didn’t mind it. But she completely killed the final number. As much as I liked the downer ending last week, I thought the new ending was much more fitting. Of course, McPhee does a stellar job because all she really has to do is stand there and belt it out. Methinks the producers are onto the fact that she doesn’t really do well with the acting/singing combo. This could bode well for S2 for sure.
And speaking of S2, here’s what I think it will look like:
1) I don’t think we can avoid the fact that Julia is preggo with Michael’s baby and we’re likely to go through more groan-worthy hardships with her family. Cue the UGH.
2) I think Karen will get significant buzz from her preview performance and will likely take over the role full time while ‘Bombshell’ paves the way to Broadway. I predict the success will go to her head a bit and she’ll start being bitchy to her fellow chorus members. Something catastrophic will happen and she’ll realize that she needs to come back to her super-sweet Iowa ways. Again…UGH.
3) Ivy will be discovered in the dressing room after injesting a mouthful of pills as a last ditch effort for attention. She’ll get it, but it won’t last very long. I say she’ll descend further and become a stripper. Karen will feel bad for her and come in as saviour (of course), and petition that Ivy become her understudy. They end up sharing the role of Marilyn – Karen for evening performances and Ivy for matinees. Everyone’s happy by the end of season two!
So that’s a wrap for Season One. Frankly, I’m hoping that the new change in leadership over at Smash will deliver a much more cohesive season. What would it take for me to watch this show without it feeling like a chore? More focus on the musical! Cut out all the other crap (Read: Emory Cohen) and get McPhee some acting lessons. I would also appreciate the show more if it went full-out camp, embracing every cliche and approaching it with reckless abandonment. I saw a glimmer of this in the Bollywood episode.
Bitchstolemyremote’s worst Lines of the night:
- Julia (re: Karen, to a demanding Derek): “She needs to make a phone call!” Claaaasic overreaction from Julia.
- Ellis: ““You haven’t heard the last of us” Umm…does Ellis have multiple personalities? That might actually explain a lot
- Julia: “I’m not running away from you. I’m running away from me.” Join the queue, you crazy beyotch
- Ivy (about Dev’s cheating): ““That’s very Joe DiMaggio of him.” Everyone absolutely needs to stop talking about things using Marilyn as a verb
- Julia: “This is a disaster. It’s such a good musical.” Way to take your share of the blame, sweetie
- Eileen (to Nick Jonas): “Marilyn’s in trouble.” See what we mean? It sounds stupid – always has
- Derek (tracking Karen to the dressing room): “You dropped little bits of Marilyn like bird crumbs.”
- Derek: “Whatever happens next, don’t ever doubt that you’re a star.” This either sounded like pure cheese, or just enough schmaltz
Bitchstolemyremote’s best Lines of the night:
- Derek (surveying Karen’s loose fitting clothes): “There isn’t a belt in the building?”
- Linda: “This one she doesn’t have to dance; she just has to show her underwear.”
- Derek (to Ivy, explaining why Karen is Marilyn): “I see her…in my head. I can’t help it…I see her. She just has something…that you don’t.” Brutally cold, but honest. It’s the quintessential Derek line.
- Linda (responding to Derek’s demands to keep working): “According to equity, there are breaks.”
That’s it for Smash‘s first season. What did you think, Smash-ers, did the season finale do it for you? Were you happen with the break-ups, make-ups and suicides? And what does your S2 look like? Sound off below!
Smash has completed its freshman season and will return Winter 2013 on NBC.
I think that Linda’s the stagemanager, as that’s who generally does the things she’s doing.
Ellis’s quote was “You haven’t heard the last of this.” I presume “this” is his claim to having had the idea for the Marilyn musical and/or some kind of legal action.
Would have preferred Ivy as Marilyn and if her fate doesnt change next season then I dont plan on watching ever again (i love Megan Hilty much too much)
What I found unsatisfying about Ellis’ departure: he shouldn’t have simply been fired. He should have been arrested. Knowingly putting peanuts in Rebecca’s smoothie wasn’t just a “prank”. Though she ultimately survived the ordeal, let’s call it what it was: attempted murder. He should have been led out of that theatre in handcuffs.
Exactly! And that’s something that Eileen should have immediately retorted instead of weakly telling him to leave. If they do bring him back next season (dear lord no), this had better be addressed…
Well, I’d hate to get in the writers heads, but publicizing what Ellis did puts the show in jeopardy. That 7 milli go bye bye real fast with a lawsuit, so, firing him and hoping he stays silent is the best that could be done. Actually, I think he’ll blackmail Eileen and be back in season 2—as a producer.
This finale was just too much. It would have been chaotic enough with just: getting costumes ready, learning the part, finishing the last number. To add the Dev/Ivy reveal, Julia being pregnant, Ellis being fired, Eileen’s ex sticking his nose in and Ivy attempting suicide into the mix – blech. I get it – all through the season, the show has tried to show (though poorly) that Broadway folks have a life beyond the stage. But time and place – let’s just spend one episode without the peripheral crap and focus on the main reason we watch the show – the musical! When I just focus on the stage parts of this episode, it was pretty great. “Wolf” was super!
Everyone is reading too much into Karen picking up the show so quickly. Surely an understudy would be watching everything that related to her dream role.
I thought the finale was EVERYTHING! Ivy’s drama was over the top, but it didn’t stop the Karen love-in in my house. Best finale so far (I’m looking at you Desperate Housewives and OUAT).
Oh, Glee’s finale was BS too. Smash is eating their lunch.
I just can’t believe all the bitchin going on re “Smash” – How simple it is to be a “couch-critic” ! Personally I fully welcome the fact that finally we have a theatrical campy musical inspired show on the air. And have thoroughly enjoyed the whole season. (Would’ve easily welcomed even double the length run.) From the fab’ musical numbers right down to not even minding it’s few faults, just as long as it’s on. I personally don’t mind a touch of “cheese” with my “camp”. – In fact, I’d even easily welcome more “camp & cheese”. The campier the better IMO. :o)
I think the majority of the complaints are just overcritical nitpicking that don’t take into consideration the wealth of artistry and talent on show.
Also, yes, perhaps Karen’s character might be a touch bland when compared to Ivy’s. Yet, sorry, but McPhee is every bit as talented as Hilty – so stop picking on the poor gal !! (Plus, as good as Ivy was, IMO I do think Karen makes for a more convincing Marilyn overall !)
Personally it’s gonna be a long wait for Season 2. ~ Bring it on !
Re: Karen – we don’t have any issue with McPhee’s talent as a singer (her voice is great), but she’s clearly not a very experienced actor. That and the writers routinely punish her with painfully earnest lines that make her seem stupidly naive. If they can find a better balance between the ingenue and the raw talent, Karen could become more tolerable.
As for camp – I would love it personally if the show went campier (hence TVAngie and I frequently referencing Showgirls). The issue is that the show takes itself too seriously in some parts, but then hams it up too much in others. It needs to decide if it’s a realistic drama about launching a show, or a soapy take on the dishy lives of these people.
Hopefully with the extra time off it can resolve its identity crisis.
I hated it, because as an Ivy fan, I am screwed. Every single thing with her character revolves around Karen, by the end the writers drug her through the dirt to make Karen all the more impressive, and since they even sent Derek/Ivy into the crapper, there goes her one okay arc (complex and painfully real as it was.) I can hardly hope that they’ll salvage something of that next season and not give Karen Derek’s eternal love and adoration as he becomes magically nicer in order to “deserve” her. I was trying to write a happy story for Ivy, and I quite literally Could Not Do It without veering AU or painfully OOC. Of course, you can write happy Karen seven ways to Sunday without even mentioning Ivy, since Ivy is not embedded very far into her storyline, and she has only one real problem (Dev) which is, btw, vastly trumped by anything Ivy’s gone through.
But of course Ivy is a B!tch and deserves to die, after licking Karen’s boots and handing over anything else Karen might want. Which is actually what I’ve been told, over and over, by Karen fans, usually with ruder language and poorer grammar. Who hate Ivy so much that they refuse to allow her anything good. Nothing at all, and I’m not even kidding. How can anyone have any respect for a show that create Ivy, created a fanbase this ridiculous, and now sits there patting itself on the back?
Meanwhile I’m meant to be impressed by Karen learning an impossible amount of blocking, costume changes, and even a new song while dealing with her personal crap? Whatever, it’s such a giant fiat that I can’t even be impressed, merely pissed off that once again every other character, every situation, and even logic itself is thrown under the bus to service her. And if you ignore the glaring exposition and carefully arranged set ups, Karen is a selfish, entitled, lazy affront to everything feminism has been shooting for over the last century. And, ironically, Broadway, given her superiority complex regarding the ensemble.
It’s not even about hate-watching anymore, it’s socially offensive, whether we’re meant to take it seriously or not, and curtails the freedom of speech and right to expression by anyone who happens to not think the sun shines out of Karen’s ass, and that there might be something in Ivy’s character that a few of us, at least, can relate to.
I’m definitely Team Ivy all the way – but that mostly has to do with Hilty being such an amazing actress. It’s no secret that I don’t care for McPhee’s acting – but I have to give her props for her amazing vocals.
One of the biggest problems with the show for me is how Ivy and Karen have been painted as such polar opposites. Karen’s an angel, and Ivy is a complete beyotch. It’s so painfully cliche and predictable – and I thought at mid season (in their little time square duet) Karen and Ivy would finally be able to just get along – be seen as two equally talent, but different, actresses and we could go from there.
Instead the finale totally devolved back into this black and white rivalry. Ivy and Karen have quickly become caricatures and not in a fun way.
Ivy didn’t get a last song in the finale either, and I truly thought she would. ; They even tried to knock her amazing USO performance. As it stands, Karen (McPhee) had significantly more numbers throughout the show, including last say on most of the Bombshell originals. Again bothersome. McPhee does have a lovely voice, but I don’t see how she’s head and shoulders above Hilty (who’s approach happens to appeal to me more.) I’m still searching for one good thing Ivy got. Still coming up empty. Let’s Be Bad? They didn’t even pretend to stick Karen in that one.
I find it laughable that TeamIvy thought she would be Marilyn, when it was clear that Karen was the star of the show by mid season. I mean, the director had visions of her as Marylin. I won’t even get in to how much of a hot mess Ivy became–not to mention a little chunky in those svelte Marilyn costumes. Really folks?
That being said, I hope Ivy returns so that Karen can get a slap in–or worse, show her pity.
I don’t think most people ever thought Ivy would be Marilyn. I never did. It was obvious Karen was going to win from the first adverts. What people expected was that they would treat the character with a little dignity. There are many ways to have Karen win everything and be goddess of the world without utterly trashing Ivy as they did. We also believe that this method fails to make Karen look any better – in fact, she now seems to have been handed everything and is thus unsympathetic. Pretty sure Karen got a thousand slaps in already, though if another will please Karen fans, i’ll give it up in exchange for Ivy getting one good thing that she gets to keep.
Did you just imply Hilty is fat and thus shouldn’t get the role? o.O Dude, she’s normal weight. Marilyn had thighs and a butt, she was famous for them. It’s boring watching a bunch of sticks prancing around the screen.
Oh, season 2: new hot rocker guy that Karen can try to ‘save’ while getting to sing pop/rock every other episode. She is Mother Theresa! Dev will be following her around trying to make it up to her, buying progressively bigger diamonds. Derek will quietly lust after her in rehearsals while making sure she has everything she needs to hand-hold her through the process of becoming a star.
Everyone we’ve ever met will turn up to scream and cry when she twists an ankle, and rewrite the show post-haste so she can do it in a wheelchair, after a brief stint with Ivy filling in makes them all realize that she’s a lumbering, croaking elephant next to Karen’s perfection.
Ivy will have a brief relationship with a tramp (- content removed by bitchstolemyremote editors -). If she’s very very good, by the end of the season her mother will still love her (though she’ll have adopted Karen professionally) and will put her in a nursing home where they play the soundtrack to Bombshell on loop 24 hours a day. Or they’ll let her date Ellis, since everyone hates him too and all the evil scheming can now be consolidated into one giant arc instead of two.
Breaking news you guys! http://tvline.com/2012/05/22/smash-ellis-dev-exit/ looks like things are looking up for Season Two!
Can we call it the “Smashacre?” Or does that imply that we’re not all SUPER happy at this development?
That’s pretty cool. Will all the unnecessary characters (Frank, Dev, Ellis, and Michael) going, it looks like Season 2 may be more about the show and the music.