The other day I was watching some commentary from some people involved in making Smash and they raised a point I hadn't considered (due to my inability to want to appreciate this show as anything but joke fodder). The songs in Marilyn are actually two layers of commentary-- on the surface, songs about Marilyn, but deeper, each song corresponds to a character on the show and their struggles to become something more than they are. Although I'm sure there is redemption somewhere in heavy analysis of the nuances of Smash characters, their prototypical Broadway personas, and the way a song can embody multiple narratives, I think I'd rather just spend week after week coming up with funny ways to talk about characters having sex via musical puns. Give 'em the old razzle dazzle.
This week starts off with Derek nailing Ivy, or as I'll call it from now on, "fiddling her roof." Ivy is concerned that she only got the part because she let Marilyn director Derek direct her ladybits in Doing It: The Musical!, which is a fair concern, and probably true (for now). Eileen Rand is selling jewelry, which is almost certainly a larger critique on our societies problem with living beyond our means and OOO EARRINGS! I'll take two!
Karen is having drinks with Derek, and we discover she's been relegated to ensemble hell (but is still technically "in"). He all but says "stick around kid, eventually Ivy will get tired of my John Val John and it'll be your turn to jump on this Bastille!" Dev crashes their drinks to assert his masculinity in a petulant, seventh grade move that kind of reminds me of how dogs pee on trees to mark them as their property. British boarding school my arse, those dudes were two seconds away from whipping out their tallywhackers to measure up. So far the best part of the episode is the "tuning" music during the title sequence. Love a good tuning sequence. Tap tap, back to the show.
The gang is casting a Joe DiMaggio, and everyone wants this one dude who we haven't met yet but Julia is apprehensive and Tom gives her a look that says "I know you succeeded in his business without really trying." Uh oh! Lookout Julia's husband! He has a tribal tattoo! This dude is obviously a "bad boy of Broadway," currently starring in a Bruno Mars musical which appears to be the American Idiot of the Smash world, and writing that sentence made me contemplate the nearest suicide option.
Eileen's character development is now "my drink, your face." Her ex-husband gets one right in the kisser for asking about her new earrings and the drink-face index (DFI) improves to 2 points! I much prefer that to Julia and Tom arguing about who they like and who they don't like it's recess. Is the theme of this episode "grade school society?" No time to argue, Julia's tea is boiling! Also, metaphorically! Tom jokes about doing Marilyn without men, and it's pretty clear that Tom can't imagine a life without men.
Quick emotional stakes roundup-- turns out the future Joe DiMaggio has a family to support, so he won't be playing ball with Julia without consequences on both ends. A bunch of old men question Eileen's ability to raise money. Dev offers to financially support Karen, because we totally believe she can currently afford even half the rent of that apartment without him. Ellis is ambitious, and his PBR drinking (read: poor) friends tell him he should get paid for his "ideas," in this edition of "Our Generation's Sense Of Entitlement." Tom and Julia are writing. Ellis steals Julia's notebook. THIS. IS. BROADWAY!
Karen goes home for a baby shower and her dad (grandpa Bill Heder) is still trying to deter her from the musical life, a-doy. All they have out there in Iowa is Annie Get Your Gun and Oklahoma!. Cut to Ivy and Derek as he Porgys her Bess in her dressing room, while her friends listen through the door and smirk (totally normal friends, bro).
Michael is making the decision to join the cast when he drops the best line of Smash so far. "I just want to be a great father. Theater is so irresponsible." This show is so irresponsible. Julia and Michael see each other for the first time and the sexual tension is thicker than Tevye's waistline. It's obvious this flame hasn't gone out, despite both of them having families and kids and wanting to be all pious and stuff. Daddy speech, discredited. Suspension of disbelief, un-suspended. Eileen pushes the DFI to 3.6 with another face blaster when her ex-husband tries to canoodle his way into involvement in Marilyn. Ivy's method of canoodling involvement in Marilyn is revealed to Tom by a mutual gay, and the shit really hits the fan! Ellis is coming between Tom and Julia! Julia is treating Ellis like a peasant! Ellis offers to make her tea, and instead, gives her a hot cup of STFU. Is anyone in this show even remotely likable? I want to put them all on a big Showboat and sink it.
Cut to Karen's friends in Iowa, who are eating in some sort of hoedown because that's the only thing they have in Iowa. "Iowa: drinking out of mason jars since 1835." Time for some karaokeeeeeee! Karen sings a country song because she's a red neck woman, and I'm sorry where is Iowa? Aren't rednecks from the south? Doesn't matter, we need a song and this episode has been pretty devoid of them, minus that near-parody Bruno Mars cover. We still haven't heard the full "Mr and Mrs. Smith" song but it's pretty clear that it will come just as several of our key character's marriages are falling apart. Julia confesses to Tom about her affair with Michael but OH NO! Ellis heard EVERYTHING! What if he exposes her secret to her husband who totally has a right to know and she has no intention of telling? How unfair!
Karen's dad gives her some money and sends her on her way, which is by far the most realistic part of the show so far. We get our first taste of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and get plenty of angsty looks from our forlorn lovers and haters. Ivy wants to be Mrs. Derrick! Julia is a skank! Smash is making a play to take the classic musical and bring it back via a television show narrative with meta-commentary on the characters, and I get that, but the whole things is starting to feel like too many things. It's hard to focus. Doesn't everyone have ADD these days? Apparently the writers of Smash do as well. Sure the theatre is full of sex and betrayal but we've got so much of it, and not nearly enough of Karen (our supposed protagonist?) that I'm not sure who we're supposed to be sympathizing with anymore. Also I watched this episode on Hulu and accidentally watched ten minutes of The New Girl afterwards, so thanks for that Smash.