On last night's Smash, Karen is exposed as a Midwestern native and a Broadway newbie, no thanks to her homemade lunch, while Ivy begins to crack under the pressure of landing the lead and her own self-doubt. Nick Jonas stops by to sort of flirt with Anjelica Huston and back her little Marilyn musical, all in NBC's attempt to drive a younger audience to what the network hoped would be its next big hit. Once again joining me is Popdust's social media extraordinaire and all-around theater wiz, Samantha Martin. Things got a little bit sexier, thanks to the addition of a JoBro and multiple bedroom tours, but was it enough to save two shows? Read on!
Emily: It's somewhat of a bad sign that four episodes in and NBC is already counting on the guest appearance of a Jonas Brother to save Smash's season.
Samantha: Does Nick Jonas really deserve SUCH a build up?
Emily: I for one am always jonesing for a Jonas appearance, but his acting...
Samantha: I'm more of a Kevin girl.
Emily: Our precious Marilyn Monroe production is already in danger of not getting off the ground. Eileen suddenly realizes the perils of divorcing a wealthy douche bag (a depleted checking account) which means she needs $200,000 and she needs it yesterday. Why won't any of her fabulous friends just give it to her?
Samantha: Well every time I say "All I need is $200,000" I get a similar reaction of "no," so this is very close to real life.
Emily: More than anything, Smash aims for gritty realism. But there's really a missed opportunity for a second show within a show: Eileen should be singing a song about $200,000 (and dancing on her desk and then out into Times Square à la In the Heights) or singing about how she'll bang younger members of the nouveau riche (more on that later) to fund her passion project, just like a reverse Max Bialystock approach.
Samantha: That is an idea so fantastic, I'd be surprised if it didn't show up.
Emily: Rehearsals are under way, although as Derek will remind us, it's only a "workshop," which means it's very far from Broadway. Check your diva at the door.
Samantha: First day of rehearsals is sort of like the first day of school. Only here this is a room of quadruple threats: dancers, singers, lookers, and bitches. BURN.
Emily: I'm going to tell Ivy you said that. We did Wicked together nine years ago—or, she did it and I watched.
Samantha: Ew! Karen is eating a homemade sandwich! SO not first Broadway rehearsal.
Emily: Put it in the burn book.
Samantha: And how could she not know about number markers? They have those in high school productions.
Emily: She's from Iowa, which to New Yorkers and musical theater lovers, is not a real place but merely the setting for The Music Man. Classic new york character trope: Call all outsiders by the strange sounding place they call home.
Samantha: "So Midwest!" to quote the dancers. Which is straight-up factual, but you should've heard the way they said it—in fact, you did.
Emily: She needs to Lana Del Rey herself fast. Then she'll get a lead in no time!
Samantha: And Karen, just because you don't know how to sing quietly doesn't mean you can just leave a rehearsal.
Emily: Sassy Ensemble Member is right: this isn't a reality show; there's no Ryan Seacrest to dry your tears. You got your part, you're on Brodaway. Deal with it. At least she spends most of this episode in character shoes makes every point you're trying to make extra dramatic due to the click-clack when you storm off.
Samantha: Retail therapy is helpful, but I didn't buy Karen's shopping scene because "Supermodel" wasn't playing. It should be playing in all makeover montages. That's how I recognize proper female evolution.
Emily: Why does Ivy choosing to be nasty instead of owning her spot more? She's got the lead, she's friends with the writer and she's sleeping with the boss. There's no need to feel threatened by Karen just because she auditioned for the lead. And yet, this is totally a commentary on female relationships. Insecurity and competition abounds.
Samantha: So true. Ivy is self-destructing, which sucks for her, but is always interesting for the viewer. I mean, Karen herself is no threat at all in a real life sense. She's totally green and not sexy. Does she pick up Adele routines quickly? Sure. (I bet playing Adele in this episode cost around $200,000.)
Emily: But can she carry a show and survive the eight shows a week grind?
Samantha: Speaking of grind, why oh why did Eileen and Nick Jonas not hook up?
Emily: JONAS JONAS PURITY RING JONAS. Maybe because he was singing Michael Buble? Not sexy.
Samantha: I think you missed when Michael Buble sang a Jonas Brothers song on Breaking Bad.
Emily: Well his character Lyle West is clearly a bad boy—he's deconstructed a Buble tune, wears man jewelry and shares a first name with Julia Robert's ex.
Samantha: I Lovett (wink-nudge).
Emily: So Disgruntled Derek throws a party for the wee child star (Jonas) he and his FORMER BEST FRIEND Tom discovered, but mostly spends his time with hands on the asses of strange women for the good of the show. Foreshadowing to the big reveal of some shitty not-so-important thing Derek did to Tom. That bitch.
Samantha: I hope they had a huge disagreement over the movie version of Oklahoma.
Emily: I hope one of them threatened to "go Oklahoma on [his] ass," and then Andy Cohen ran in to break the whole thing up before there was bloodshed.
Samantha: Because they're not above joking about whoring Ivy out to land investors, they perform "I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn't Love to Howl" in the middle of the party.
Emily: Julia sings!
Samantha: She's wasted on her second scotch of the episode.
Emily: Scotch is the drink of sex. Michael knows this, which is why his wife only buys vodka.
Samantha: Also, Ellis and the catering staff know the harmonies and dance.
Emily: He's the Karen to Julia's Ivy. Get in the back!
Samantha: "Oh fine, pull my leg, I'll play guitar and somehow know the lyrics to this song" -- Lyle.
Emily: Whatever gets the check to arrive on time. So many of these Marilyn songs are written around metaphors. Last week it was the fictional ideal of being "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," this week its equating men to wolves. If this musical is supposed to be about her life, when will they give us the ballads like "Too Many Pills"?
Samantha: Well Derek and Ivy's relationship is already taking a turn towards the unhealthy—no surprise there!—so maybe as he continues to cup the asses of faceless women and she continues to cry about it, we'll see more dramatic numbers played out on stage.
Emily: Have we established an over/under for how many characters will claim to relate to Marilyn's life yet this season?
Samantha: No, but it's gotta be big. I mean, "there's nothing safe about being a star." Man, I can't wait to see that in the Facebook statuses of girls I went to college with.
Emily: I'm also wondering why Derek is still so fixated on Karen as a viable option. He told her she can't dance, so he's going on voice alone, or voice and Fuckability Factor?
Samantha: Oh, he loved that sense of vulnerability when she sang "Beautiful," so I guess she could sing more dreamy songs like "Mr. and Mrs. Smith."
Emily: That's true, I just don't see her commanding the stage and warranting eight backup singers and dancers, nor being able to do the sexpot thing and lure a dude from the audience.
Samantha: Nick Jonas is not ditching his guitar for no Karen. They're better off sending her through Save the Last Dance training.
Emily: Chitown! That's close to Iowa.
Samantha: I think as Ivy loses confidence and Karen gains, there might be room for a semi-believable usurping.
Emily: Now that she has a power gay in her corner, and proper character shoes.
Samantha: But mostly I'm thinking how sad it was that Degas had to bone Theresa Rebeck for all this advertising.