Bernadette Peters returns to reprise her role as Leigh, Ivy’s (Megan Hilty) star-stealing mom, while Dylan Baker swings by to judge Karen (Katherine McPhee) for being a sexually active woman. Can’t these kids catch a break?!
Let’s bitch it out…It’s take your parent to work week on Smash, as the parentals descend on New York to wreak havoc on the lives on their children.
As promised by the closing moments of last week’s episode, Bernadette Peters returns as scene stealing Leigh. It’s a moment of growth for Ivy: she recognizes that Leigh is there as part of Eileen’s (Anjelica Huston) business strategy to sell the show, but she doesn’t have to like it. Unfortunately this means that the simmering conflict between mother and daughter turns into a child-like battle. First Ivy and Leigh play nice during rehearsals, then Ivy explodes with a temper tantrum in front of everyone, drawing figurative blood with a series of pointed insults. Merited? Yes. Juvenile? Definitely. The pair seemingly settle their differences (through song – naturally) in a balanced Bombshell performance of “Hang The Moon”, which is the kind of song Smash loves to suggest will make audiences cry (see: Christian Borle’s Tom and Debra Messing’s Julia). In reality it’s more of a snooze: a strong ballad…and a loooong three minutes.
On the flip side is Dylan Baker’s Roger Cartwright, Karen’s sedate Iowa father. He’s in town attending what appears to be the least demanding conference in history, which allows him to attend a full day of rehearsals as well as an evening gala. In his defense, he’s probably playing hookey so that he can sample Hit List – the musical he thinks his daughter threw her career away for.
In reality, though, he’s reenacting one of the oldest sexist cliches in entertainment. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to parents who chastize their daughters for being sexually active! After he witnesses Jimmy (a soul-sucking Jeremy Jordan) sneaking out of Karen’s window, Roger is convinced it was Derek because both the director and the star of Hit List share a jacket. It’s screwball comedy 101, although it’s a pretty extreme conclusion to jump to considering the item in question is a plain black leather motorcycle jacket. I’m still not sure why Roger’s suddenly okay with things when he finds out that it’s Jimmy she’s sleeping with (younger? less sleazy? not British?), but there’s a strange judgemental undertone to the whole proceeding that rubs me the wrong way.
Also, I hate Karen, so any storyline that focuses attention on her is a drawback in my book.
- yellowwait has been waiting/demanding for Jimmy’s background for weeks, so I’m interested to see his reaction to the ho-hum, groan-worthy reveal that he was once a small time drug dealer/user. The final scene, when he accepts a parting baggie after paying off his debt with Derek’s money, is especially disappointing. Not because it’s out of character for Jimmy (it isn’t), but because it’s such a boring, obvious direction for the writers to go
- There’s a suggestion in the opening scene that the sex between Karen and Jimmy is quite good, yet they both look as though they’ve just stepped out of hair and make-up. Great sex leaves you flushed, disheleved and unable to function properly. Judging by the state of their appearance, this is not the sex these two just had. Then again, perhaps vanilla sex is great sex for Karen Cartwright?
- Speaking of the show-killer, her number at the fundraiser is rather tame, isn’t it? If I were her, I’d feel mighty threatened by Ana’s (Krysta Rodriguez) P!nk-like acrobatic performance. That is the kind of number that will give Hit List the buzz it needs to move from non-profit to profit
- Julia is surprisingly tolerable this week, even if her “golly gee” OCD-approach to relationships probably makes feminists want to claw her eyes out. She’s trying a little too hard to make things right with Scott (Jesse L. Martin), although it pays off when he offers her the dramaturg position on Hit List
- Eileen, meanwhile, is just trying too hard to score (personally and professionally) with New York Times critic Richard Francis (Jamey Sheridan) who looks ready to bolt the moment she turns away. Chalk this up to a misfire. I was no fan of Nick, but at least those two had some chemistry. This feels forced and disingenuous
- Finally, did anyone else automatically do a shot when Julia mentioned TECH? It’s like muscle memory now!
- Julia (to Tom, about letting things go): “I think we both know that I don’t do that well”
- Derek (when Ana asks if they have time to pull this off): “Almost definitely not, but it’s never stopped me in the past.”
- Bobby (watching the niceties between Ivy and Leigh): “This is boring. I want my catfight already.”
- Ivy (friend breaking-up with Tom): “We’re not friends. I work for you now. And that’s it.” Woh woh
How are you feeling about the state of all of these relationships: interested or bored? Was anything even remotely surprising about Jimmy’s druggie past? Do you want to see Julia come aboard Hit List as dramaturg? And how many weeks of conflict between Leigh and Ivy can you stand before you go postal? Sound off below
We’ll get answers in no time when Smash airs its second episode this week on Saturday at 9pm EST on NBC. That’s right, folks, it’s time for the burn-off!