Where to begin. I like Smash. I do. I want to LOVE it. But I don’t. Regardless of my middle road feelings for this show, I can’t stop watching it. I think it has a lot of potential to really be a great show, it’s just a hot mess right now. Some characters need to go, storylines need to be streamlined or dropped, and some characters need to be reworked and pronto.
My biggest issue with Smash right now are the characters. Are the writers trying to make certain people irredeemable? I’m not going to waste any more time on Ellis or Leo. They’re awful. They’re terrible. And there isn’t one person on the planet that doesn’t want both characters gone, yesterday. But I’m talking about Ivy, Dev, and Michael. Let’s start with Michael. Was creepy stalker in his job description? Seriously if I were Julia, I would put out a restraining order on him if it wasn’t for the fact that it would ruin my show. She has made it very clear on numerous occasions that she doesn’t want anything to do with him anymore. Yet he keeps coming at her. He keeps standing uncomfortably too close to her. HE TRIED TO KISS THE OTHER DAY!!!! What is the matter with this guy? It’s fine if you don’t care about your family but Julia is trying to rebuild hers. Respect it and back off.
Dev was someone I was indifferent about from the start. I didn’t like him. I didn’t not like him. Now, I hate him. Thank you writers of Smash, you have made that line very clear at this point. Let’s list all the things wrong with Dev shall we? He started out in the pilot as a supportive boyfriend. Somewhere along the way when this got to be something he didn’t like, the support went out the window. Instead of retreating to your job (and the slutty reporter) why not talk to your girlfriend about what’s bothering you and let her in. She doesn’t know things are bad unless you tell her. Hooking up with a reporter isn’t the best solution. Proposing to her after telling her about cheating on her, isn’t the best solution. Then when she’s upset about it, you run off and sleep with the woman who is her arch-enemy in show biz because you think it’s over. Are you kidding me? Lately, Dev has been completely useless. Other than being a complete jerk and making Karen even more unlikable after her reaction to his cheating (the first time) what is Dev’s point on the show. Clearly Karen can do better. He cheated on her twice over the course of a week so she can’t do much worse.
And that brings us to Ivy. Team Ivy here. Although I’m slightly more embarrassed to say that these days because of what the writers have done to her. She went from being a girl with little self-esteem who would do anything for her big break to Puck from The Real World: San Francisco. Ivy just started doing things that were deliberately cruel. I thought at one point, the writers were shying away from the rivalry/animosity between Ivy and Karen. They weren’t becoming friends but the tension was dropping and they were pleasantly tolerating one another. Then Ivy lost the part (I’m still not sure why other than it was too early for her to get the role), Rebecca’s brought in, Karen’s named understudy, Rebecca gets poisoned by Ellis, Karen gets to play Marilyn. Oh and Ivy basically walks in on Derek and Rebecca having sex after he told her he loved her. Talk about screwing somebody (and I don’t mean Rebecca.) Ivy was already in a fragile mental state and all this just pushed her over the edge. To the point where we leave the season finale with her holding a handful of pills trying to decide if she wants to kill herself. If Ivy couldn’t hurt Karen, she was going to hurt herself.
Look I understand not liking Karen because she appears to be taking away your shot at stardom for no apparent reason. But ultimately none of this is her fault. Who you should be pissed at is Derek. Everyone else thinks this part should be yours….Tom, Julia, Eileen, even Karen thought it should go to you when Rebecca bowed out. The one person who didn’t, who could pull the trigger was Derek. And for some reason, he thinks this part belongs to Karen. So that’s who you should be pissed at. Derek took your role. Derek cheated on you. Karen just happened to be the beneficiary of it all. If it wasn’t for the fact that I love Megan Hilty to pieces, I would loathe Ivy. And is that really the point?
So you have three characters who have become so unlikable because of their actions, it’s hard to see how they can bounce back and become characters you root for again. Do you guys see how that’s possible because I don’t. I worry about that for Smash because you must have a rooting interest. And if you ask me, Karen isn’t a good enough, strong enough, smart enough character to root for.
Fifteen episodes in and Karen is still as dull and stupid as she was in the pilot. Actually she was fiestier in the pilot. So since episode 2. Katharine McPhee just isn’t a good actress. I’m sorry. Singing, no problem. Dancing, not too bad. But acting? Sheesh. Watching my lab chew on a rawhide bone for 2 hours is more exciting than watching Karen Cartwright/Katharine McPhee. Seriously, what self respecting woman has her boyfriend tell her that he’s cheated on her (the first time) and then calls him to apologies for HER behavior. What? Are you insane? You have every right to storm off and hate him. He cheated on you and had the balls to ask you to marry him after he already cheated on you. Why are you apologizing to him? That has nothing to do with her acting ability mind you. That’s just very poor writing for her character. But Karen is still just a one note character. Bland and boring, just as McPhee is portraying her. Even when she confronts Dev about the ring and sleeping with Ivy, she was bland. I would have drop kicked him out of the theater. I would have been heartbroken and visibly upset. In most other cases, I would have assumed the actress was playing it down because she didn’t want to have a scene in front of everyone. But with McPhee, it’s how she delivers everything…flat.
Besides all that, I think the biggest problem I have with Karen is that I don’t see what Derek sees in her. Derek keeps insisting to everyone that she’s a star. He says it to the point where everyone else around him agrees that Karen is a star. What has she done to prove that? I think what also makes this so hard is that the casting department did a lousy job. You casted someone with no command of the stage and no acting ability to be the main protagonist who is supposed to have undeniable talent. You cast her against someone with incredible stage presence, a very powerful leading lady in her own right, someone with tons of Broadway experience who exudes talent, and is head to toe Marilyn Monroe. And we’re supposed to believe that Karen has IT and Ivy doesn’t? We’re supposed to believe this is Karen’s part and not Ivy’s? HOW? Ivy even looks like Marilyn. Karen is thin as a rail with no curves and you did nothing to make her look like Marilyn other than stick a blonde wig on her head. Even watching Karen perform the songs, I’m watching someone with a very pretty face in a platinum blonde wig perform the numbers well, but I don’t get the sense I’m watching Marilyn the way I did with Ivy. Not even close. That final number was basically Karen in a blonde wig singing a song. She didn’t sound like Marilyn and she doesn’t look like Marilyn. I don’t get it.
What did you guys think of the season finale and the season as a whole of Smash? As much as I just ripped the finale and the destroying of half the characters on the show, I’m still going to watch it. I still like it. I love Tom and Julia. But my one request….DO NOT MAKE HER PREGNANT WITH MICHAEL’S BABY! Thank you for letting me shout that. I like Derek although I haven’t been fond of him lately. I love Tom’s relationship with Sam. I love Julia and Frank. I love the ensemble. There are some good parts to this show. It just needs to be tightened up and cleaned up and I think it will rebound in Season 2. But we’ll see.