nenena: (Devi - Flaming Tara)
nenena ([personal profile] nenena) wrote2012-05-27 01:21 pm


You know that a show is truly, truly terrible when Liz Lemon makes a completely non-ironic and earnest joke about it being terrible during the season finale of 30 Rock. Ladies and gentlemen, Smash is that show. And yes, it is every bit as terrible as everybody says it is.

But like Liz, I stubbornly stuck with watching the show all the way up to the bitter end, because despite how completely awful it was in so many regards there was also just enough in terms of nuggets of television gold buried beneath all of the poorly-written, melodramatic crap that I couldn't give up on the show completely. I just couldn't.

Of course, it helps that the show is a musical about a musical, which is always a fun concept in and of itself. It also helps that Smash stars some absolutely phenomenonal singers and actors, and that I am willing to sit through forty minutes of insufferable stupidity every week as long as it means that I get to hear Megan Hilty sing, or get to watch Leslie Odom Jr. dance, or get to listen to Jack Davenport sneering through his every line of dialogue, or get to watch Angelica Houston being amazing in her every scene because she's Angelica fucking Houston. Overall the cast of Smash is so talented that it's almost ridiculous. ALL of these actors and actresses deserve a better show than this, and they're all doing an incredible job with the crap dialogue and crap scenarios that they're given to work with. Ultimately it's the acting that saves this show even though the writing is doing its goddamn best to destroy it.

I think this is the first time I can ever honestly say that I enjoyed a show primarily for the actors and not for the characters. But enjoy the show I did, somewhat. Even though MY GOD were parts of it so stupid that I actually felt myself getting angry at the show for being so terrible. So I guess this is the big long post where I try to sort out and write down all of my feelings about Smash, since if I suffered through fifteen episodes of this crap I might was well have some thinky-thoughts about writing and characterization (as in: HOW NOT TO DO) to show for it.

But first, let's start with a few things that Smash did well.

1. Tom and Sam. Christian Borle and Leslie Odom Jr. are absofuckinglutely fantastic actors, they have amazing chemistry together, and their respective story arcs are great. I especially loved the whole drama with Sam's family being disapproving of his career as a dancer rather than disapproving of him being gay - which is realistic, relatable, and definitely stepping outside the usual stereotypes in terms of how Black and/or Christian characters are portrayed with their attitudes toward homosexuality. Smash is also LIGHT YEARS ahead of certain other shows that like to pat themselves on the back for being oh-so-progressive in terms of portraying gay relationships on screen and yet never show the gay couples kissing, touching, or engaging in any sort of sexually-charged banter or flirting whatsoever. Yes, Modern Family and Glee, I am most certainly talking about you two. Smash actually shows its gay couples engaging in physical flirting, sexual banter, kissing, touching, and even in bed together. You know, the same way that it portrays the heterosexual relationships on the show. Smash does much more to normalize the portrayals of gay relationships among its characters in 15 episodes than Modern Family has done in three full seasons. Now, to be fair, neither Tom nor Sam's portrayal is perfect. In fact, Sam spends most of the first half of the season having no characterization whatsoever other than a) liking sports - which he has to mention in his EVERY LINE OF DIALOGUE - and b) being Ivy's gay best friend who exists solely to be Ivy's gay best friend. But once Tom and Sam start dating and Sam starts to, you know, actually be portrayed as a character with complex personality traits, things get a lot better. A LOT better.

2. Eileen. Angelica Houston is an amazing actress, I loved the character's entire story arc, everything about Eileen is awesome, and if I actually can bring myself to watch the next season of Smash it will probably be solely to watch Eileen be fucking awesome in every scene again.

3. Ivy, with an asterisk. We'll get the asterisk behind the cut, but first: Yes, Megan Hilty is every bit as amazing of an actress as she as a singer. Yes, I loved (nearly) everything about Ivy as a character. I ended up rooting for her so much that it was kind of scary. I loved how she was flawed and imperfect, selfish and manipulative yet vulnerable and needy at the same time. I loved how hard she worked and how hard she fought for her dreams. I loved how good the show was at making me feel for Ivy and at making me want Ivy to win, despite the fact that Ivy was much less of a nice person than Karen was. I think that the show truly succeeded in making me feel like Ivy DESERVED that leading role, even if she was a flawed and imperfect person, and for that I can only tip my hat at the writers and say: Well done.

And now let's talk about what the show did horribly, horribly wrong.

Let's start with some general observations about the writing for this show.

It's pretty bad.

Like, really bad. And most of the failings in Smash have to do with characterization, or lack thereof: Characters behave inconsistently, react to situations in downright strange and sometimes utterly unbelievable ways, and occasionally utter lines of dialogue so bizzarre that you begin to suspect that this show wasn't actually written by human beings but rather by space aliens. I mean, we're talking George Lucas writing Attack of the Clones-level terrible dialogue here. Or webcomics written by T. Campbell-level terrible dialogue. It's just so bad at times that you have to wonder if the show's writers have ever actually had conversations with other human beings before. Because they sure don't seem to know what conversations between actual human beings are supposed to sound like.

Unbelievable reactions: Ellis confesses to Eileen that he put peanuts in the smoothie of an actress who was allergic to peanuts so that she wouldn't be able to ruin the musical with her terrible singing anymore. Eileen fires Ellis in the spot, but he leaves telling her that she hasn't seen the last of him. Eileen glowers at Ellis as he leaves. Instead of, you know, CALLING THE FUCKING POLICE and REPORTING THAT ELLIS JUST CONFESSED TO ATTEMPTED MURDER. Nope, Eileen is just going to stand there and glower at Ellis, helpless to prevent him from continuing with his career and returning as an antagonist in Smash's second season. Or she could have, you know, CALLED THE POLICE AND STOPPED HIS CAREER RIGHT THEN AND THERE. What the hell, writers?

Unbelievable reactions: The fact that the peanuts-in-the-smoothie thing is presented as a big mysterious whodunnit in the first place. The characters are actually shown wondering WHO could have possibly DONE such a thing I mean gosh it's such a baffling mystery! Was it Ivy? Was it Karen? Hilariously, not ONE character who is shown speculating about how the peanuts got into the smoothie actually mentions Ellis as a suspect. Except that Ellis is the one who makes the smoothies every day. And Ellis tells several other characters that Rebecca is ruining the show and that Ivy should be playing the role of Marilyn. Ellis even confronts Eileen about needing to fire Rebecca in order to save the show. And did I mention that Ellis makes the smoothies every day? And that all of the other characters already KNOW that Ellis will lie, cheat, and steal for the sake of musical? ARE ALL OF THESE CHARACTERS IDIOTS?

Unbelievable reactions: Frank sees his wife Julia standing in somewhat close proximity to Micheal, the musical's leading actor, discussing some changed lines, in the middle of a rehearsal, in front of a dozen other people. Frank flips his shit and storms off because Julia betrayed his trust and is ruining their marriage. Or something.

Ridiculous characterizations: Jessica, supposedly one of Ivy's closest friends and a character who appears in nearly every episode, has one and only one character trait: She's always losing her cell phone. That's it. That's her entire characterization. She's always losing her cell phone and asking to borrow somebody else's phone, tee-hee! I swear to God, that is her ONLY character trait. And it's only noticeable because in one episode Karen actually says, "Gosh, you're always losing your phone!" Not only is this is a bizzarro thing to have as a defining character trait in the first place, but it's totally unbelievable that Jessica's only reaction to constantly losing her phone is to giggle at herself and nonchalantly ask to borrow Karen or Ivy's phone. Um, hello, that's YOUR CELL PHONE that you just lost. Even if it's not a smart phone, it STILL might have some sensitive personal data on it that you definitely don't want falling into the wrong hands. But does Jessica ever express any sort of concern that her phone is lost? Nope. It's just something that she laughs about because that's her only character trait whatsoever. Despite the fact that losing a cell phone is definitely NOT something that most people would be laughing about.

Inconsistent characterizations: Sam and Tom worry that they're infantilizing Ivy by rushing to her side and making her tea and cookies every time that she gets upset about something. This is a legitimate concern, I can totally buy that. But then Ivy has a total breakdown, ODs on drugs, gets fired from her role in a Broadway musical, and is left wandering the streets wearing nothing but her angel costume from the show and with her system still full of drugs. And THAT'S the night that Sam tells Tom that it's time for them to back off and let Ivy handle her own problems like an adult? The night that she's fired from her job and high on drugs and out wandering the streets?! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! I'm sorry, but regardless of whether you're worried that you're coddling one of your friends too much or not, you do NOT let them wander the streets of New York City when you know that they're high on drugs and you know that they feel like shit because they just got fired. That is a situation in which ANYBODY would (hopefully) come to the rescue of their friend, concerns about coddling be damned. I mean, what the hell? A decent person wouldn't choose that moment to let their friend "start handling things like an adult." Tom and Sam are decent people. That whole episode felt like Tom and Sam had been had actually been replaced by alien pod people.

Inconsistent characterizations: Derek Willis is a visionary director who doesn't care about coddling the feelings of his actors and actresses. He will be as harsh with them as he needs to be in order to make his musical perfect. This is why he's so harsh with Ivy during rehearsals, despite the fact that outside of work he clearly cares about her as a person and even trusts her enough to let her help with the show's blocking/writing/directing during the period of time when she isn't officially part of the cast. So! Derek is harsh with his actors and actresses and doesn't coddle them during rehearsals. This has been established. But then he starts being super-nice to Rebecca and eventually even starts sleeping with her because... because she needs his attention and he needs to make his leading actress happy in order to save the musical. Er, but I thought that Derek Willis didn't give two shits about his actress's feelings? Oh wait, suddenly he does give two shits, because Smash's writers need a reason for Ivy and Derek to have relationship drama. And then in the final episode, Derek spends so much time coddling Karen and being supportive of her ~feelings~ that one has to wonder if this is indeed the same Derek who seven episodes ago swore that he would never compliment his actresses even if they were clearly craving his support and approval. I would buy this change in Derek's character if at any point in the season he had actually shown, you know, any sort of change or growth as a character whatsoever. But he doesn't. He's just a guy whose defining character trait is that he doesn't care about other people's feelings, and who even makes it a point to argue that he's not going to care about his actress's feelings regardless of whether or not his treatment of his actresses is ultimately detrimental to the musical that he supposedly cares so much about... Until suddenly Smash's writers need another reason for Ivy to feel jealous, and THEN Derek's entire directing style suddenly changes and now he's the guy who will say or do anything to please his leading lady, including sleeping with her and knowingly hurting his girlfriend Ivy in the process.

Inconsistent characterizations: Oh and let's not even mention that horrible fucking thing that Derek says to Ivy in the final episode. That thing that was so amazingly fucking horrible that I couldn't for one second believe that Derek would actually say it, no matter how much of a bastard the writers have tried to portray him as throughout the entire season. There was no reason why Derek would have or should have said that thing in the first place, either. I mean, come on: This is a guy who LIES to his actresses and co-workers all the time. I don't believe for a second that Derek suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to be completely honest with Ivy, or that even if he had, he wouldn't have also understood that there were a dozen other ways that he could have answered Ivy's question that wouldn't have been, you know, completely fucking emotionally devastating. This is a guy who's supposed to be good at manipulating women, right? Surely he of all people would understand exactly how what he was about to say would have affected Ivy, especially in her current emotional state. What the hell, writers. Yes, Derek Willis is a horrible human being, yes, you have well and thoroughly established that, but no, that doesn't mean that you can make him say or do something that horrible without it being completely out of the blue and completely out of character. There are lines that even Derek Willis doesn't cross. Or at least, that he didn't cross until the final ten minutes of the final episode.

Inconsistent characterizations: Ivy is an ambitious actress who is not above lying, manipulating, and cheating in order to advance her career. Yes, she is willing to hurt her friend/rival Karen... but only when it's something related to her career or her role in the musical. Ivy is NOT the sort of person who deliberately hurts other people just for the sake of hurting them. This is very clearly established about Ivy's character until the very last three episodes of the series. And then Ivy sleeps with Karen's boyfriend for NO REASON WHATSOEVER. Or wait, I'm sorry, because she wanted to hurt Karen. Somehow. Except that she didn't want Karen to find out about it. So, bwuh? BWUH? I think that plenty of people have pointed out how pointlessly stupid and utterly out-out-the-blue the whole "and then Ivy sleeps with Dev! For no reason!" thing is, and how it was doubly stupid that the whole big damn stupid thing was used as a cheap source of drama so that Karen would have something to freak out about in the final episode of the series. Yeah, because Karen being thrust into the leading role of a musical that she doesn't know and having exactly ONE DAY to learn everything before opening night clearly ISN'T DRAMATIC OR INTERESTING ENOUGH, oh no, and we couldn't possibly show her having a breakdown because of a crisis of self-confidence or anything, nope, we'd better give her this dumbass storyline about discovering that her boyfriend slept with her rival for NO REASON WHATSOEVER so that she can have a ~real~ reason to freak out before opening night. Fuck you, writers. Fuck you.

Moments when I cannot actually believe that a human being wrote this: Hours before opening night, Julia suddenly feels nauseous, runs into a bathroom, and throws up. She returns a moment later and tells Tom that the last time she threw up was sixteen years ago when she was pregnant with her son Leo. Le gasp! Could it be that Julia is pregnant?!?! What a cliffhanger!!! Except, wait, no: Is it actually POSSIBLE for a human being to live for sixteen years without ever once throwing up? Especially a woman with such a delicate constitution as Julia, the character who spends most of her screen time every episode crying because she's just so overwhelmed by all of her emotions? So she cries at the drop of the hat but she never gets upset or nervous enough to throw up? Even if you'll have me believe that Julia never vomits due to nervousness or any other emotion, I still can't believe that in sixteen years she's never, say, gotten a stomach flu or gotten food poisoning. I mean, come on: It's hours before opening night of a major musical, Julia is still in the middle of writing the final song, she's under an immense amount of pressure, her professional career and her family life are disintegrating all around her, so then when she runs into the bathroom to throw up she immediately concludes that it must be because she's pregnant?! I think that ANYBODY would throw up in that sort of situation, pregnant or not. What a completely bizarre way to set up the fact that Julia might be pregnant! If Smash's writers wanted to end the finale with a cliffhanger about Julia being pregnant, why couldn't they just have her confess to Tom that she missed her period or something? Or show her throwing up in the morning like pregnant women tend to do? Why set this up in the weirdest and most unbelievable way possible?!

Okay, I'd better stop here, because I could probably go on for pages and pages with more examples. I've listed a couple of the most egregious examples of terrible writing that Smash gave us already. But other than what's listed above. the whole season is just peppered with terrible dialogue, inconsistent characterizations, and characters having incredibly stupid or incredibly weird reactions to certain situations, so much so that one really does begin to wonder how much of this show was written by human beings and how much of it was written by aliens with only a somewhat dimwitted understanding of human emotions. And perhaps the biggest and worst example of this entire "wait a fucking second, human beings don't act that way!" phenomenon is the season-long story arc about Julia and Micheal.

Now let's talk about Julia.

First: Debra Messing is an incredible actress. She deserves a better character than Julia. She deserves a better show than Smash. She can convey more complex emotions with a single glance from her eyes or a single tilt of her head than most actresses can do while delivering lines that are actually well-written and make sense for the character to say. But Julia had basically NO lines that were ever well-written or actually made sense for her character to say, and therein lies the problem.

I already discussed why I found the Julia/Micheal thing to be insufferably boring and at the same time completely horrible to watch when Smash was still halfway through the season. But I had thought, at the time that I made that post, that the Micheal story arc was finished for good. But nope, I was wrong. Smash was going to resurrect this horribly story right before the season finale, and do it in the worst possible way, too.

Hey, here's a thought experiment! Let's compare these two scenarios:

1. A musical that has cost millions of dollars to produce is just a few nights away from opening when all of a sudden, the leading man quits. Micheal is a talented and popular actor who already knows the musical backwards and forwards, since he used to be the leading man before he was fired, and hey, he's available right now, so he could be called to jump right back into his old role. Hooray, the musical is saved! But there's a problem: Micheal sexually harassed and even stalked Julia, the show's writer. Yes, they had a consensual affair at one point, but when Julia tried to call off the affair Micheal wouldn't take "no" for an answer, and therein lied the problem. That's why, you know, he was fired. Julia's marriage almost fell apart because of Micheal being such a stalker. Eileen, the show's producer, who has millions of dollars and her entire career as a producer on the line, suddenly finds herself in a terrible dilemma: Should she save the show by asking Micheal to come back, thus putting her writer (and friend) Julia at risk for more creepy stalking, or should she risk everything on casting another actor who doesn't already know the show and has about, oh, three days to learn the entire leading male role backwards and forwards? Eileen wrestles with the decision but ultimately decides to bring back Micheal. Julia opposes this decision and feels betrayed by her producer and friend, for understandable reasons. However! At the last possible minute, in an awesome show of solidarity, Julia's husband and teenage son decide to put their lives on hold and travel down to Boston (where Julia's show is rehearsing) in order to be with her - and to make sure that Micheal can't get anywhere near her. Despite everybody being aware of the situation and looking out for Julia's best interests, however, Micheal DOES manage to corner Julia at one point - literally backing her into a corner, not letting her escape - and gets all up in her face about how he knows that she show really called him back because Julia must have wanted to be with him oh so bad and blah blah blah. Julia is understandably upset about this encounter, so later somebody - oh god, anybody, any character really, just SOMEBODY - finally takes Micheal to task for his stalking behavior.

2. A musical that has cost millions of dollars to produce is just a few nights away from opening when all of a sudden, the leading man quits. Micheal is a talented and popular actor who already knows the musical backwards and forwards, since he used to be the leading man before he was fired, and hey, he's available right now, so he could be called to jump right back into his old role. Hooray, the musical is saved! But there's a problem: Micheal is uncontrollably attracted to Julia, the show's writer. He stalked romantically pursued her so intensely during the show's workshop that she ended up having an affair with him. Julia tried to call off the affair but Micheal wouldn't take no for an answer. Julia's husband found out about the affair, blamed Julia, and almost left her. Julia blamed herself for the affair and cried about it for three episodes straight. Exactly one person (Tom, Julia's co-writer) thought that Micheal was at least partially at fault for anything, and thus fired him from the show. (But Tom also blamed Julia.) So now, back to the present: Eileen, the show's producer, who has millions of dollars and her entire career as a producer on the line, suddenly finds herself in a terrible dilemma: Should she save the show by asking Micheal to come back, thus putting her writer (and friend) Julia at risk for more endless scenes of crying while eating a jar of peanut butter in bed, or should she risk everything on casting another actor who doesn't already know the show and has about, oh, three days to learn the entire leading male role backwards and forwards? Eileen decides that saving her show is more important than Julia's crying fits, so she brings back Micheal. Julia cries a lot and threatens to leave the show. Eileen tells her to stop being selfish and stop holding the show hostage because of her ~feelings~. Julia cries some more and eats another jar of peanut butter in bed. Julia gets mad at Tom, her co-writer, for agreeing with Eileen's decision. She refuses to speak to him, cries some more, and basically acts like a three-year-old. However! At the last possible minute, in an awesome show of solidarity, Julia's husband and teenage son decide to put their lives on hold and travel down to Boston (where Julia's show is rehearsing) in order to be with her - and to make sure that she doesn't get too close to Micheal. Despite everybody being aware of the Micheal/Julia situation, however, Micheal DOES manage to corner Julia at one point - literally backing her into a corner, not letting her escape - and gets all up in her face about how he knows that she show really called him back because Julia must have wanted to be with him oh so bad and blah blah blah. Julia is understandably upset about this encounter, so later she cries and blames Tom (!!!) for it. Finally, during a rehearsal, Julia walks up on stage to talk to Micheal about some changed lines. While they are standing close together, Micheal suddenly confesses to Julia that his wife left him when she found out about their affair and oh noes woe is me poor widdle Micheal. Julia is clearly made uncomfortable by Micheal's sudden unprofessional behavior, but she just stands there and listens to Micheal wangst, because what else can she do? But then! Julia's husband walks in to the theater at that very moment, sees Micheal and Julia standing in close proximity to each other (in front of A DOZEN OTHER PEOPLE because it IS the middle of a rehearsal), and completely flips his shit. He blames Julia for betraying his trust and tells her that he might never be able to trust her again. Julia blames herself AGAIN for betraying her husband's trust (by standing close enough to her leading actor to talk to him in the middle of a rehearsal, mind you) but then gives a "moving" (*cough*) speech to her husband about how their marriage will never be perfect and they will always have some reason to doubt each other, so they might as well try to make it work anyway. Or something. Cue touching scene of Julia and her husband holding hands and reconciling.

At no point in scenario #2 does anybody ever point out that Micheal is stalking or harassing Julia, even though he clearly is. At no point in scenario #2 does Julia express concern about the fact that Micheal continuously cornered her, stalked her, and wouldn't back off no matter how many times she told him to do exactly that. Nope, all throughout scenario #2 Julia cries endlessly because it's all her fault that she had an affair with Micheal and it's all Tom and Eileen's fault for calling Micheal back to the show because don't they know that Julia's marriage is going to be ruined again if she's anywhere near the Micheal's immediate proximity?!?! Or something.

So anyway! Scenario #1 versus scenario #2. Which scenario do you think sounds like it presents a more complex, more interesting, and more believable conflict? Which scenario sounds like it was actually written by Smash's team of writers? If you guessed scenario #1 for the former and scenario #2 for the latter, then: Bingo! You are correct!

The problem with the way that Smash frames the Micheal/Julia story is twofold: One, Micheal absolutely stalks and harasses Julia, there is no other way to label his behavior, yet the show presents Micheal's obsession with Julia as romantic and the inevitable result of his overwhelming attraction to her. Two, although Julia consents to her affair with Micheal, the show - meaning the characters themselves, especially Julia - places the blame for the affair ENTIRELY in Julia's lap, because it is completely her fault that she gives in to her overwhelming lust for the man who kept cornering her and sniffing her neck during workshop. I mean it's not like Micheal has any part in the affair or anything.

And because Smash frames the Micheal/Julia affair in such a manner, it presents the Micheal-might-have-to-be-called-back-to-the-show-at-the-last-minute story in the most twisted way possible: The conflict is presented as Julia's selfishness (she's going to cry a lot and ruin her marriage by having another affair with Micheal if she's anywhere near him, because she JUST CAN'T CONTROL HER SEXUAL URGES like a normal adult would!) versus the entire musical production being saved from a last-minute disaster. No wonder Eileen accuses Julia of being selfish and acting like a child. In the framework that Smash's writers have given us, Julia IS being selfish and acting like a child. It gets even worse when Julia blames Tom for "letting" Micheal come back, and refuses to speak to him. Come on, that's not how an adult behaves. That's how a child behaves. Julia is written like a child, not like an adult. She's presented as somebody who can't control herself around a man that she's attracted to and therefore of course it's her fault that her marriage was almost ruined. Her constant crying fits are shown to be only because she blames herself for the affair and because she's still afraid that she can't control herself around Micheal.

You know what? Julia has the right to be upset and definitely has the right to be crying when she finds out that Micheal is returning to her show... because Micheal stalked and harassed her. But Smash DOESN'T ACKNOWLEDGE THAT. At all. It's certainly never presented as a reason why Eileen would struggle with the decision to bring Micheal back to the show. It's certainly never presented as a reason why Tom would want or need to side with Julia in terms of opposing Eileen's decision to bring Micheal back to the show. And it's definitely never presented as one of the reasons why Julia would be upset and crying all the time. The only time that Julia ever blames anybody but herself for the whole Micheal disaster, she blames... Tom! Because it's HIS fault that Micheal came back to the show. Somehow. I guess. Um, hello, Smash writers: Why the everloving fuck does Julia never actually blame Micheal for any of this?!

Space aliens. This show and these characters are written by goddamn space aliens.

I would find Julia's self-loathing about the affair a lot more believable if at any point Smash's writers actually acknowledged that Micheal stalked and harassed her. Because, yes, that did happen, but also yes, Julia was attracted to him, and yes, she eventually consented to an affair with him. This makes for a much more complex, interesting, and believable portrayal of a disasterous relationship than what Smash ultimately gave us. Because in real life that sort of shit goes down all the time. People are mutually attracted to each other, but one party says no, the other party won't back off and won't take no for an answer, the persistent party continues to cross personal boundaries in an unhealthy way, and then finally the reluctant party gives in but then REALLY hates themselves for it in the morning. Or for several mornings afterwards. And especially when the reluctant half of that relationship is a woman, of course she's going to blame herself for everything. Our culture teaches women that it's their fault for leading men astray, and most of us have internalized that message so thoroughly that it's hard to break free of that mindset, even as an adult.

But again, that's just not how the relationship is portrayed on Smash. This is what Smash gives us instead: Micheal doesn't harass Julia, he just can't help being so overwhelmingly attracted to her! Julia doesn't want Micheal to come back to her musical because she just can't control herself or behave like a normal professional adult when she's anywhere around him, so of course if he comes back her marriage is going to be ruined again! Boo hoo hoo. Goddamit Tom, how DARE you make Julia choose between saving her marriage or saving the musical! Even though you have nothing to do with the decision to bring Micheal back. THIS IS STILL ALL YOUR FAULT TOM. Boy I hope you feel bad about this because feeling bad about "betraying" Julia is going to be, like, your only story arc for the last two episodes of the season. Also, I totally believe that Julia's husband would flip his shit and feel like Julia betrayed his trust just because he saw Julia standing in somewhat close proximity to Micheal while in the middle of a rehearsal. Yeah, that's a totally believable reaction right there.


What I find particularly galling about the whole thing is that we're supposed to believe that it's a big, awesome moment when Julia's husband and son volunteer to put their lives on hold and travel down to Boston with her... in order to prevent her from getting too close to Micheal. Because it's not like she's an adult who can control her decisions and actions or anything. And it's not like Micheal is a creepy stalker who sexually harassed Julia and maybe, just maybe Julia's husband and son should be concerned about THAT instead of essentially telling Julia that they're traveling to Boston just to keep her on a short leash, or anything. And yet Julia is actually GRATEFUL to her family for treating her this way. Barf.

Speaking of barfing! Now that Julia has run into a bathroom and vomited right before the opening of the musical, thus somehow magically establishing that she is pregnant, it's clear that this whole insufferable Micheal/Julia mess is going to be dragged on into the next season of Smash as well. Who could the baby's father be?! Will Frank act like a neanderthal and wangst about how Julia betrayed his trust instead of expressing any sympathy/support for his wife during her inevitable personal crisis? Will Micheal become even MORE of a creepy stalker now that Julia MIGHT be pregnant with his child? Will Julia spend even more of her screen time every episode crying and eating a jar of peanut butter in bed? Will Tom feel bad because this is clearly all his fault even though he has nothing to do with any of it? Gosh, I just can't wait for all of this fascinating and NOT AT ALL PAINFULLY STUPID drama to unfold next season!

Sarcasm. That was sarcasm.

Okay, but what else is terrible about Smash?

Well there was that "Bollywood" number that threw a bunch of random costumes, lines, and visual motifs from a variety of different South Asian and Middle Eastern cultures together in a blender, because hey who cares all of those cultures are like totally the same and totally interchangeable, right? But plenty of other people have already written about that - as well as pointed out Smash's other failures in terms of race and cultural diversity - so I won't rehash all of that here.

Smash has a more diverse cast in terms of race, culture, age, body type, and sexual orientation than any other show on NBC's primetime lineup this year. But considering that this is NBC, that isn't saying much. It really isn't. I think that Smash deserves praise for the things that it does well in terms of diversity. For example, I really did love Ellis, Sam, and Dev. I loved their characters and I (mostly) enjoyed their story lines. And yet at the same time, I have to wonder why of the three FEMALE characters of color on the show, only one one of them (RJ) had anything close to, you know, a storyline of her own. And even then, just barely. Sue and Linda were such undeveloped background characters that in most episodes they didn't even have a single line of dialogue. So we all see the problem here, yes?

Well, okay, so this post is already much longer than I intended it to be. I think I'd better stop here and go re-watch the MTV broadcast of Legally Blonde: The Musical so that I can remember how awesome Christian Borle is when he's not stuck in the middle of a terrible, terrible show.

Yeah, that's right. Legally Blonde: The Musical is a better-written story with better characters, better dialogue, and more believable drama than Smash is.

Yeah, I went there.

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