Smash: Chemistry

Posted on March 13, 2012

Apparently, no doesn’t mean no.

We wish we could get past this, but the way they’re handling the Julia storyline is bothering us to the point of distraction. We’d like to think we’re not the type of viewer who confuses the characters on the screen with real people and can assess a storyline on how well it’s presented rather than on whether we find the characters’ actions appropriate. It doesn’t bother us that Julia’s cheating on her husband and Michael on his wife. That’s what makes adultery so titillating, after all. But man, we have found every single one of their romantic scenes together to be enormously creepy and this episode’s late-night meeting in the rehearsal space was the worst one of all. When a woman tearfully tells a man, “Please. Stop.” and he responds by taking her shirt off as she stands there passively and teary-eyed, that could (and some would say “should”) be played as a rape scene. Instead, she falls into his arms. Sure, these things happen, but it’s disturbing to see an otherwise inoffensive show indulge so enthusiastically in the old trope that when a woman says “no,” she really means “maybe.”

If there had ever been one moment when Julia’s protestations seemed flirtatious or playful we would have been fine with it, but she’s torn up about all of this and spent half of this episode and half of the previous one trying desperately to get this insanely pushy and creepy man out of her hair, out of her house, and out of her pants. And what makes it worse is that all that distress and all that resistance just melted away once he fucked her. It was all coy smiles and giggling after that. Was this script written in 1960 or something? We can’t remember the last time we saw such retrograde ideas about women and sex.

And in other highly unrealistic romance news, any all-male gay cocktail party where an award-winning musical theater composer is introduced to the crowd would wind up with him as the center of attention, rather than as a curiosity. That scene struck us as so false that we momentarily wondered if the creators had ever met any urban gay men. And how weird is it that they floated this idea about the boyfriend being unworthy because he just came out, only to then reverse course on it 20 minutes later? It’s obvious that they want to hook Tom up with the sports-loving chorus boy so it feels like they’re just trying on various subplots to see which one will get them together. We would have liked an exploration of why Tom was put off by his boyfriend’s recent coming-out. This is something about gay dating that we think a lot of straight people wouldn’t understand and they had a moment there to delve into something that’s never been explored on network TV but for whatever reason, they dropped it within the hour.

Meanwhile, Ivy’s starting to crack under the pressure and the writers shrug off any subtlety about comparing her to Marilyn by giving her some full-on pill-induced mania. We like the idea that Karen is largely considered the fallback and everyone’s being quite open about that. It puts the pressure on Ivy, but also on Karen as well, in different ways. We think they’re still doing a pretty decent job of explaining both characters’ points of view. We understand Ivy’s insecurities and the pressure she’s feeling, just as we understand Karen’s frustration with being jerked around and treated badly by the lead.

We confess, we don’t quite get what they were going for with Eileen last night. Her eager willingness to lay her life bare for Ellis strikes us as one more thing that makes her look pretty stupid. We guess we’re happy things are going better for her on a professional front, but we’re not sure what to make of her sudden affection for dive bars and seven-dollar Martinis.

But despite our complaints, we’re quite taken with how well the writers are juggling various plotlines while remaining focused on forward movement. There’s  not so much narrative wheel-spinning in this show. Even that somewhat over-long Bar Mitzvah scene had a payoff and an introduction of one more element to the Ivy/Karen rivalry. Everything that’s happened so far is being dealt with in the story while new things are being added and the date of the workshop looms ever larger. There are some minor problems here and there, but we remain impressed with how tightly scripted the show is.

We just wish they’d talk to some real women about sex and real gay men about dating, is all.


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  • muzan-e

    We can’t remember the last time we saw such retrograde ideas about women and sex.

    Twilight. New Moon. Eclipse. Breaking Dawn. I can’t stomach those books, but not because I find glittery vampires innately silly.

    • Rand Ortega

      Thank you for saying that!!!!! The Twilight books/movies are ripped straight from the JCLDS playbook of dominant paternalism & being force fed to young women as a romantic & behavioral (women can’t take care of themselves & must yield to males as superior protectors) ideal. It’s disgusting.

  • “Sure, these things happen, but it’s disturbing to see an otherwise inoffensive show indulge so enthusiastically in the old trope that when a woman says ‘no,’ she really means ‘maybe.'” AMEN.

    • fiestyfashionfem

      Should have read more comments before I posted – Absolutely agree – sick shit.

  • It may be offensive, but I don’t think that scene was terribly unrealistic.  I grew up in a very structured religious environment, and as I grew older and was branching out sexually, I often protested during foreplay because putting up a bit of a fight helped (at least somewhat) assuage the overwhelming guilt. It wasn’t some show for the guy, either; it actually made me feel better, as sad as that is.  But believe me, I really wanted him to continue. God, I’m so glad to be past that. 
    Anyway, that is the same feeling I got from this scene.  In my mind, she really did want it, but her guilt made her protest. I know we all want to preserve the “no means no” mantra because none of us want to ever be stuck in court and have the jury decide that we really wanted it despite what we said.  However, in real life, and I HATE to say this, but no doesn’t always mean no.  And I don’t think the show should be obligated to put that PC spin on it when it isn’t always reality.

    •  “I grew up in a very structured religious environment, and as I grew older and was branching out sexually”

      Which doesn’t describe Julia even remotely. It’s true for you, but it doesn’t make a bit of sense for her.

      • suzanne77


      •  I agree that factually her situation is not the same, but we shared the common element of guilt. 

    • NinaBoo

      “But no doesn’t always mean no.”

      Except that it does. If one person says, “no” then it should be treated exactly that way. Full stop. But if that person then starts to give off conflicting “no means yes” then a conversation needs to happen before anyone does anything else. Mood killer? Maybe. But everyone involved needs to be on the same page.

      It’s more than “no means no”. I am committed to “yes means yes”, however I want to get my freak on at that moment.

      • suzanne77


        • truth. keep your pants on until they say “of COURSE! I DEFINITELY want sexy-times with you now!”

    • I HATE to say this, but no doesn’t always mean no.”

      Thank you for setting rape awareness back 20 years. Someone might not mean “no” when they say it, but it better damn well be accepted as no by their partner. If someone is playing that “no means maybe” game, they need to grow up before becoming sexually active. It’s really unfair to expect one’s partner to suss out what one REALLY means by no. This bullshit “no means maybe” attitude is how many have justified rape for centuries.

      This storyline with Julia disturbs me and makes me really, really uncomfortable. I hate that it’s being written like some epic romance. I really like this piece of fluff show, but I think after last night, I might be done with it. I can take a lot of nonsense in TV (I still watch Glee), but I can’t take a stalker-like character who shits all over boundaries because the writers think it’s just so romantic how he’ll stop at nothing to get that silly reluctant woman to understand love.

      • You’re right, no SHOULD mean no, and men should ALWAYS respond to no as if it MEANS no.  But whether you like it or not, there are millions of women in this country that say no when they don’t mean it, hoping that men will continue.  That is reality. 

        • Right, they do. I know that’s the reality. But that doesn’t change the fact
          that women who send sexually mixed messages are irresponsible and immature, and
          worst of all, perpetuate the dangerous myth that no doesn’t always mean no. The “no means no” push has been around for decades; it was part of my high school sexual education class 20 years ago. There’s no excuse for women to keep playing the “no means maybe” game, knowing the dangerous message it sends.

          You feel guilty for having sex and want the illusion that someone talked you into it? In my book, that is so fucking childish. If you want to engage in a grown-up activity, be a grown up.

          As someone who was date raped, I have a lot of contempt for women who play
          that game and the men who play along.

          • ” You feel guilty for having sex and want the illusion that someone talked you into it? In my book, that is so fucking childish. If you want to engage in a grown-up activity, be a grown up.”


          •  Honestly, can’t necessarily argue with that.  It was childish.  I had a lot of growing to do from that point.  But in my defense, it wasn’t something I was really doing consciously at the time.  It is only as I’ve gotten older that I recognized what I was doing and realized how warped it was. And there are a lot of us women who were raised in such a repressive environment that it had that kind of effect.

        • Well just because it’s the reality doesn’t mean it won’t and isn’t about to change. If it is with in my power I will singlehandedly make that reality change. The things you are saying is just hurting the cause of acting responsibly. You do not get to say “everyone is doing it,” to apologize to yourself for your past decisions. You need to own what you did, accept you made a mistake – when you think like this you make sex dangerous for other young girls.

        •  But I don’t think she DID want it. She’s crying. She’s torn up. He freaking calls her HOUSE while her husband is there. He threatens to make a scene if she doesn’t follow what he says at the rehearsal. Even the call he makes smacks of pressure. He eats dinner with the family when she full-stop tries to kick him out of the house… Sure, is Julia a little weak, but she does say several times she wants to stop. Knock. It. Off.

          It was incredibly frustrating that after sleeping with him, she’s all looking at him lovingly in the last scene. If it was really love & guilt and not just “get away from me”, I don’t exactly see how sleeping with him would’ve cured the guilt. Furthermore, that was NOT what I was getting from the writing or performances. The entire vibe was of a trapped woman – and definitely not by her own feelings. I didn’t see any attraction from her towards him at all.

          • Violina23

            ” But I don’t think she DID want it. She’s crying. She’s torn up. He freaking calls her HOUSE while her husband is there. He threatens to make a scene if she doesn’t follow what he says at the rehearsal. Even the call he makes smacks of pressure. He eats dinner with the family when she full-stop tries to kick him out of the house… Sure, is Julia a little weak, but she does say several times she wants to stop. Knock. It. Off.”

            Yes — but this all derailed the second she decided it was a GOOD idea to accept an invitation to meet this creepy man (exhibiting stalker-like behavior, who has been ON THE RECORD about wanting to have a sexual relationship) at night in a dark, abandoned rehearsal space. If her true intention was to say “back the F#%k off”, then she should have met him for coffee during the day in a public location where he couldn’t try anything.  So, either she is a complete idiot who put herself in the position where there is a high probability of unwanted sexual advances from a known creepy guy who wants to start an affair, or she kinda DID want it and played the “no means maybe” game. Either explanation sends a pretty shitty message about women.

        • peggylarner

          I’m sorry, but f*ck that.  I know two women who were date raped who in the moment due to trauma reactions couldn’t summon up the ability to be physically and vocally assertive.  Not that they should have had to.  One of them woke up at a party with a guy on top of her and the other was accosted by the leader of her mission organization in his home. 

          Any woman who says “no” with the intent of playing games is encouraging the idea that if a woman doesn’t scream at you or try to bite your f*cking c*ck off, it’s not rape. 

      • I agree so much about the “”epic romance” edit they’re getting. I’m supposed to root for them to destroy their families and for her to give in to a guy who is essentially STALKING HER?!?!? oi…

    • Rand Ortega

      Please seek help. I’m not trying to be facetious. If you still believe that no doesn’t always mean no, it may lead you to continue to deal w/ certain people or situations in  ways that are unhealthy, beyond your intimate interactions. “No” should & MUST always mean no. I speak from experience. Take care of yourself.

      • I was definitely had issues with sexuality growing up because of the way I was raised, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve definitely become more comfortable with my sexuality and no longer have any shame in owning it.  I’ve been happily married for 10 years and I really don’t think I need help, but I take no offense to your comment and don’t consider it facetious.  As I state in response to Shelly, I agree that no should always mean no, and that men should always respond to it that way.  But I still believe that many women don’t treat it this way, and that they say no when they still want it.  I don’t believe I’m setting rape awareness back 20 years by saying that, I think the women who do that are setting rape awareness back 20 years by not realizing that they HAVE to protect that word, “NO,” by only using it when they mean it.

        • peggylarner

          I grew up in a sexually regressive environment, too.  I had a lot of guilt issues about my first sexual experiences.  But I never said “no” when I meant “yes.”

    • Have to disagree. As a girl who likes to take things at her own pace – when I say no and guy doesn’t listen I am pissed. I’ve hooked up with guys that think for some reason when I say I don’t want to have intercourse, but am ok with oral, that I must be ok with having sex and will go for it anyhow. Not cool. Not cool. A girl who say sometimes no doesn’t mean no are a big problem. Own your choices and your words, that’s for Everyone.

  • BookishBren

    I HATE HATE HATE the Julia story line. I found that “no-means-maybe” story line last night terrifically irresponsible. I was just appalled. I find the character of Michael so incredibly creepy. I find myself FF anytime they are on screen. I just don’t care. I actually hope that some of the women’s rights groups go after the writers or address this issue with them. I do know lots of teenage Glee fans watch this show and it is just a horrible message to put out there. Ugh, ugh, ugh!

    I have a hard time with the character of Ivy. I don’t know if I am supposed to really dislike her or feels sorry for her. Right now, I just really dislike her. Possibly because she reminds me of every Mean Girl I have ever known. That is fine but don’t expect me to care when she has problems with her voice or her director boyfriend mistreats her. 

    • What I hated about the Icy storyline wasn’t so much that director man was being mean to her. I think we’ve established that he’s basically trying to separate his personal and professional lives, and while he’s an ass, I can forgive that. I think a lot of Ivy’s problems with him stem from her own insecurity. What bugged me was the way he encouraged her to take the pills to improve her voice even after Tom had told him that she was hypersensitive to drugs, and even though he knew that this particular drug had specifically bad side effects. I get wanted her to be up and ready, but I thought that was highly irresponsible, and I really respected Tom for telling Karen to be ready in case Ivy wasn’t, but it means that even though he wanted her to have to part, it was more important to him that she be healthy in the long run.

      • Violina23

        Yes, I like that about Ivy’s character — the Mean Girl thing feels primarily like a defense mechanism for her insecurity. Doesn’t necessarily make it OK (Credit due to Megan Hilty — I totally want to slap her when she does that awkward passive-aggressive giggle thing while speaking to the director or to Karen in their 1-1 session), but you can see where she’s coming from. It isn’t completely entitlement and bitchery, it’s desperation to retain what she feels she’s earned at all costs. 

  • GenXcellent

    The whole Julia and Michael storyline IS distracting…I remember quite enjoying certain parts of last night’s episode, but all my memory is left with this morning is the creepy residue of *that* happening.

    I do think a more apt title for the show might be Stupid People Try to Make a Musical.  At least then we’d know that yes, these people ARE supposed to be stupid, they’re just not making them do stupid things to help the plot get from point A to point B because they (the writers/producers) are not that creative. I just can’t always tell what the intent is. Like, Marilyn 2 glued to her smartphone while on stage performing. Because that’s what professional performers do when they are trying to make it?  Even ones from Idaho.  Huh?

  • GorgeousThings

    If Julia had a half a clue, she would have slapped a restraining order on Creepy-Guy. The worst thing is that, he’s supposedly a pretty hot Broadway actor. But thanks to “Smash”, if I ever saw he was headlining a show, I’d avoid it like it was plutonium.

    • Elaine Rodriguez

      Aw!  Don’t!  Will Chase is an awesome Broadway actor. I’ve seen him in many, many productions and he’s just so great. He’s also a really sweet guy.  It’s unfortunate that this is the part they’ve written for him, but the next time he headlines a show run to see it.  He never disappoints.

      • Agreed, don’t blame the actor for the shoddy writing. He’s probably really thrilled to be on a major network show, it’s just to bad for all concerned that they are wasting all of this A-list talent on a D-list plot.

      • YoungSally

         He’s actually playing the male lead in Pipe Dream at City Center next week.  In other news “Tom” is a WONDERFUL “black ‘stache” in Peter and the Starcatcher.

  • Even though those two actors do have some pretty hot chemistry I couldn’t have been more turned off by their sex scene for all the reasons that Tlo mentioned.Of course, one could argue that Julia coming to meet Michael at 10PM in an empty rehearsal space instead of a coffee shop was an implied “yes’, even though she is clearly conflicted.  And why would they give Michael such a pretty wife and family?, it makes his motivation to cheat all the more murkier and sordid.

    • Ronny64

       Wait, so it would be acceptable or expected for Michael to cheat if his wife were less attractive? We are attracted to people for such a wide range of reasons, making his wife less attractive would be pretty ham fisted.

      • No, I am not saying that it’s ok to cheat if the person is unattractive but the brief glimpse of Michael’s homelife seems so sweet and his wife appears to be supportive, so why would he cheat? I am complaining about the writing not giving us a reason to understand why Michael would be so ardently pursuing Julia.

    • suzanne77

      One could argue that showing up to meet someone alone at night is an implied yes, but then one would be making the argument of a rape apologist. Clearly the character did consent because later he says, “DO you want me to stop” and she says “No” and kisses him back. However, meeting someone alone at night is not IMPLIED consent. (I am sure you know that.)

    • annieanne

      Part of why I find the storyline so creepy is that I see exactly zero chemistry between the actors. Debra Messing seems almost as creeped out by the Will Chase character as I am.

  • mommyca

    Agree with you about Julia… and about Eileen, I have to say that Ellis’ approaching her was kind of creepy, and I was constantly waiting for the moment when Eileen was going to say to Ellis: “what are you doing here?” but it never happened, so I’m puzzled….

    • agreed. I expected her to be like “what do you want” or “how can i help you”. I’m not sure if I missed something but why are they buddies all of a sudden?

    • miwome

       I don’t understand why Ellis hasn’t been crushed like a bug yet. By anyone and everyone.

      • cleep1000

        I cannot wait until he gets what’s coming to him.

  • evolutionista

    did anyone else think it was weird that they were basically equating ivy taking prednisone for a few days, with the typical long term addiction problem storyline of the “star/marilyn.”   and the other dancer kids extoling their steroid war stories all “reefer madness” style.  i know steroids have side effects, but come on.  pretty silly.  oh and julia’s boyfriend/dimaggio–super creepy.  of course, her husband and son are also pretty creepy, and he can sing so…

    • MaryMitch

      I know; I took prednisone for an allergic reaction and I don’t remember any problems at all with it. I understand some people might have issues, but I don’t think there are common reactions that everyone would be talking about like that.

      • GenXcellent

        Yeah, the prednisone thing was just silly. I think the writers were mixing up steroids with STEROIDS.

        • ohayayay

          I have known 3 people who have had horrible reactions to prednisone. One guy I know was prescribed it for breaking out in hives. He then had a full on panic attack/extreme gastrointestinal problems and basically had a really nasty loss of control in the ER. (I know, ewww, it was terrible.) My friend’s mom developed Bell’s Palsy while on prednisone, and for awhile they thought she had actually had a stroke. Nope. It was just prednisone. 

          Another woman I know is in the hospital and actually became comotose/unresponsive after being placed on prednisone for pneumonia. I am pretty suspicious that the prednisone caused the situation. It is nasty stuff.

          • GenXcellent

            Yes, it’s a drug with myriad side effects–many of them very undesirable.  I’ve seen people with pyschosis, cushing’s disease, diabetes, bone issues from (mostly) long term prednisone use.  But still, more often than not, it’s a drug that can really help the people who need it.  I have a friend with an autoimmune disease who would not be able to walk if not for prednisone during hdurinflares.                      

      • GenXcellent

        Yeah, the prednisone thing was just silly. I think the writers were mixing up steroids with STEROIDS.

    • MissAnnieRN

      It didn’t seem weird to me.  It’s a pretty standard prescription for inflammation, and the theater world is pretty brutal, the how must go on, despite your laryngitis, fever, etc…  Steroid-induced psychosis is real, and it’s pretty fucking terrible having witnessed it once or twice.  Completely normal people driven psychotic by the drugs.  And the moon face, hair growth, high blood sugar, all that stuff is very very real.  I actually thought it was well scripted and they got the major medical thrust of the side effects pretty well.  Granted, Katherine McPhee appearing in the mirror was high camp, but it is TV, so what do you expect?

      • suzanne77

        Yeah, the moon face and hair growth happened to me as did an intense feeling of paranoia. I was on a heavy duty dose for 6 weeks and it took me months to get back to “normal”.

        • rowsella

           She only took it for a day or two this episode.  I was kind of disappointed they showed such severe side effects (like hallucinations and emotional hysteria) before the other more common ones like increased appetite, insomnia and being a bit hyper energetically.

          • suzanne77

            Oh sure, that part was certainly condensed down for TV drama, but the side effects can happen naturally, as can throwing up “something that looks like coffee grounds” as I was told when the allergist put me on them. Deeeeeeelightful.

    • SingingSkies

      For a character who has apparently hung onto at least a moderately successful career in musical theater for 10 years, I can’t believe that this is the first time she’s had prednisone. Yes, the potential for weird stuff happening exists. But you’d think she would have either had the experience and told the dr about it or just accepted her previous experience and shrugged it off. 

    • annieanne

      Steroids have serious side effects with long term use. Not with one dose which is how they portrayed Ivy.

  • They showed Michael playing with his beautiful young son, being greeted by his supportive, loving, beautiful wife…and they expect me to be ok with him cheating on her? Are the writers completely stupid? I have absolutely no sympathy for this creep. 

    As for the “no means take my shirt off and manipulate me some more” scene, I’m only still watching the show because I hope he gets punished for that. That was a serious, serious misstep. There are, as far as I can tell, no redeeming factors for Michael. And Julia, who I was enjoying as a character, is falling just as quickly as Michael. Her giggling and serene post-coital smile the next day made me want to vomit. 

    What awful people. 

    • MaryMitch

      I agree. It’s adultery, and we really don’t understand why either of them would be unhappy with their spouse. And the next day, I would expect guilt, not winks and giggles.  Are we supposed to like these characters? They’re worse than that asshole director.

      • FunButNutz

        Right.  So we’re supposed to accept that after 5 years apart, where they each had separate lives, and apparently made ZERO attempts to contact each other, that now, because they’re in the same room, that everything else in their lives is crap and means nothing?  This isn’t High School people!

        • If there’s one romance trope we wish would die a fiery death, it’s the idea that someone is “powerless” over their emotions. That’s how a child thinks. Any adult who thinks that is in a form of arrested development.

          • Violina23

            Yes, yes, and more yes!  Sometimes you can’t “turn it off”  (heh, I feel like breaking into ‘Book of Mormon’ now) but you CAN be responsible with your actions.  I mean, why the heck did she even go there in the first place? I’m not saying she “asked for it”, but what did she think he was going to try to do in a dark, empty rehearsal room late at night?

          • Agreed. And I really hope that they are repercussion for them both for starting this up again.

          • alula_auburn

            Yes so much.  This is honestly why I find most adultery plotlines to be at best incredibly tedious and annoying, even when not combined with the kind of retrograde rape culture-y ick of this show.  I can count on one hand the number of adultery plotlines in which I actually felt anything for the characters’ and their ZOMG angst besides “Grow the fuck up.”

  • Creepy is right.  Michael gives me the willies.  Ew.  Dude just needed to be slapped, but he’d probably like it, so it wouldn’t help much.

  • PrinceT

    I didn’t see the show but your recap sounds exactly like the night I was raped.  I tearfully said “don’t, please stop” while he kept taking off my clothes.  I was 21-years-old and so shocked at what was happening, I froze and couldn’t fight.  Any show that portrays that scene without calling it rape should be off the air immediately.  

    • suzanne77

      I was 20. I even tried to tell myself it hadn’t happened at all the next day. The scene was very hard for me to watch until he asked her if she wanted him to stop and she told him no. Then it just made me mad. Damaging romantic trope that needs to DIAF. (Commiserating hugs offered if wanted.)

      • cosmogirl2121

        Good heavens, people! It’s a SHOW….they can write the storyline anyway they want! And whether you or I like it, this DOES happen sometimes. AND, brace yourself, she very OBVIOUSLY DID WANT HIM TO CONTINUE! Please stop with the freakin’ political correctness:(

        • suzanne77

          Good heavens cosmogirl, it is a comment board, we can discuss the show any way we see fit. 

        • Stop telling people how to comment and what to say.

  • fiestyfashionfem

    “Sure, these things happen, but it’s disturbing to see an otherwise inoffensive show indulge so enthusiastically in the old trope that when a woman says “no,” she really means “maybe.”” – It really IS creepy.  I HATE this storyline.  

  • Terence Ng

    It’s breathtaking to see how they turned an award-winning show writer into an utterly powerless pushover in the company of the various men around her. Ellis, Derek, Michael, and now probably her son.

    • els8383

      Agreed. And in the previews for next week, it looks like Tom steps in to stop her from this gross affair with Michael. I don’t know why they’re making her character so helpless.

      • Terence Ng

        Wasn’t she basically running her family in the pilot? What happened?

        • annieanne

          And to make it a complete stereotype — she can’t cook!

          • Terence Ng

            Well, dagummit, what good is she other than crying, whining, getting yelled at, and reluctantly having sex with old flames?

  • els8383

    Aside from being disgusting and creepy, it seemed like the whole Julia-Michael thing was just a lazy way to resolve that issue. Julia is stressed because Michael won’t leave her alone. Julia can’t finish the song because she is stressed. Julia gives in to Michael’s rapey advances. Surprise! Julia is happy and can finish the song! Everyone wins!

    It does look like the shit’s going to hit the fan next week, so this better be resolved in a responsible manner. I really like the other parts of this show and I don’t want to have to stop watching it.

  • CarolinLA

    I love how real they’ve made Tom.  It’s so refreshing that they didn’t result to the stereotype of drama queen for him.  Making a gay man the most stable and grounded of the main characters is delightful.  He’s such a pro surrounded by a group of idiots and snits.  

  • CarolinLA

    They’ve done a fantastic job of splitting the emotion between Ivy and Karen.  I go back and forth on who I root for and that’s a great ride.

  • Elaine Rodriguez

    Since you mentioned it, TLo, why WOULD Tom be put off by his boyfriend having only come out to his mother the year before?  I didn’t quite understand.

    I really do hate these side stories: Julia and Michael (which makes me sad because I’ve been a Will Chase fan for a long time), Eileen and her ex-husband, ANYTHING having to do with Ellis (seriously, can they just get rid of him?). I mean, really, who cares?  As far as Eileen is concerned, I would be more interested in just seeing how difficult it is to get investors, seeing how that process really works, without all her ex-husband stuff.  Even producers who are successful on their own have to drum up investors.

    • R. L.

      Yes, why would Tom be put off by the boyfriend coming out to his mother only last year?  I don’t get it.  Why does that matter?

      • Because coming out is a long and very stressful process, which makes it not a good time to be shooting for romance. It’s also a bit of a red flag that he didn’t come out to his mother until his late 30s. All of that says that he’s someone who’s still working through a lot of issues. And then there’s the fact that gay men just post coming-out often suffer from “kid in a candy store”-itis, making them not a safe bet for monogamy. We’re not saying no one should date a man going through all that; just that it’s not unheard-of for out gay men to avoid romantic entanglements with gay men still in the process of coming out.

        • R. L.

           Thanks TLo.

          • FunButNutz

            What TLO is saying delicately, is that newly out gay men tend to be huge sluts. (Gay myself so don’t attack)

        • Violina23

          Now that would have been fascinating for the show to actually dive into…. but alas…

        • Oh. didn’t get that either. Thanks for explaining. And it really is a plot point I would have liked to have seen explored more. But, why was it okay when BF explained that his mom was forgetful/in denial? Just that he HADN’T just come out, or that he was dealing with a difficult mum?

          •  That he came out a while ago and presumably isn’t dealing with all those red flags.

        • Elaine Rodriguez

          Thanks, TLO!

    • SignLadyB

       Yes, I was curious about that also. Info?

  • abigail3

    Agree with your point about Tom at the party–I thought, why isn’t everyone crowding around him and thereby making his date the envy of everyone? Also, doesn’t Ellis work for Tom? WHat happened to that, and also his plot to sue everyone for stealing his idea for the show? But I did enjoy Ivy’s little meltdown at rehearsal.

  • ellabob

    Sorry – this show is not based on any reality in the theatre world… I wanted to love it, but I can’t even watch it.  The writing is just bad and the acting?  Not much better…

  • MilaXX

    When a woman tearfully tells a man, “Please. Stop.” and he responds by
    taking her shirt off as she stands there passively and teary-eyed, that
    could (and some would say “should”) be played as a rape scene. Instead,
    she falls into his arms.

    O.M.G. YES! I literally threw my slipper at the tv when they had this scene. It was a major WTF? moment for me. In fact I find this particular adultery storyline a bit unbelievable. Perhaps it’s just me or wishful thinking but when he was cast a Joe DiMaggio and she confessed to Tom about the kiss, I thought she was more embarrassed than actually attracted to him. Now she’s so attracted to him that she’s willing to risk her marriage and the baby she was so gung ho to adopt?

    I wish they would get to the realization of the dual role already. I thought for sure Tom was there when Ivy told him about her dream.

    • suzanne77

      I knew I liked you.

  • R. L.

    Yes!  I was pissed about the rape scene disguised as a seduction scene.  Way to go writers.  Has TV not evolved at ALL since the Luke and Laura days?  

  • flamingjune

    “We can’t remember the last time we saw such retrograde ideas about women and sex.”  Watched the news lately?  (And I assume, yes, you have.)

  • Oh I am so glad to read this this morning. So glad it wasn’t just me – but apparently TLo and all their Smash-loving minions – who were aghast – aghast I say! – at the Julia sub-plot and sex scene. I mean really???? And I also agree that I am not getting Eileen’s character at all. I wish she was being played with a little more dignity because they are making her out to be downright silly. Oh wait! It’s a theme. Silly people doing silly things. Oh no.

    And I guffawed when the guests at the party were unimpressed with Tom. Check their papers! He writes. Broadway. Musicals.

  • SignLadyB

    I also am so glad the minions’ take on Julia was the same as mine. What I didn’t get is why Julia went to the rehearsal room at all. and bra-less? No, I’m not saying ‘she asked for it’ I’d never say that–but after all her protestations, her apparent pleasure with Frank’s return, why did she get out of bed?
    And Ellis? What is his game? Now he is sucking up to Eileen the same way he sucked(s?) up to Tom. We know what he did to Tom & Julia, so what is he getting out of Eileen? 


      and now that I think about it, I think the writers added in that “do you want me to stop” bit to give Julia an opportunity to verbally consent, and cancel out all the rapey from the rest of the episode.


  • granddelusion

    Sorry, that IS a rape scene. No ambiguity about it.

  • EEKstl

    As a past on-and-off devotee of All My Children, did anyone notice that the smouldering-ly cute bartender was played by Thorsten Kaye, formerly Zach Slater on AMC?  

    • FunButNutz

      He’s going to be Angelica Huston’s love interest!!!!

      • EEKstl

        As soon as I recogized him I knew he was in for bigger things on that show.  Yummy!

    • Yes! I was super-giddy. I’m glad he got an arc, but I hope it’s not stupid. 

    • suzanne77

      I had no one to be excited with about that! I miss AMC, but I was so excited to see Thorsten Kaye. Heck I was excited to see him in a rerun of Sliders the other say. LUV him.

  • beebee10

    You are so right to ding them on the Julia rapey romance, but I know what they were trying to do: the “heat” of making a show combined with Julia’s ambivalence and lust for him. But they made him so rude and pushy and creepy which was a bad choice and came out of nowhere. When he starts the pushy come-on’s I was like “wait did I miss a scene here? what is going on?” 

    And minions, don’t hate an actor cuz his character is poorly scripted. This guy is really talented. And so is Meghan Hilty, whose character is easier to understand. 

    I also like how the apartments of the struggling actors bear SOME relation to how modestly people live. I love how small and modest they make Ivy’s apartment which is realistic. 

    Sick of the “ah shucks” routine from the Karen character. (oh my credit card bill is $300!). Has she been under a rock? 

    Ok SMASH I like you you do most things really well. I’m watching! I find you are strongest when you stick with the SHOW and the production of the show. You should be able to put the broad brushes away soon now that you have established everyone’s character. 

    • Violina23

      ITA with everything you wrote!

    •  I am with you- I understand that they want to show the Julia “romance” as two people who are fighting their attraction for each other, but sigh treated so badly. And if they wanted a hot scene… having him step back and say ok.. you are saying no… so I’ll stand here and wait.. and flip the gender on how that scene played out.. that would have been so much better.

      And for Karen, I’m actually with her on the credit card thing- I am a bit of a hick, I had had a very different view on credit and debt than most of my friends…. I get where she is coming from (but she should totally known who that promoter from the Bar Mitzvah was.. and maybe prepped for the bar mitzvah… really how hard it is to google “hava nagila” for the lyrics).

  • Girl_With_a_Pearl

    O.K., so the part where Ivy was hullucinating and she saw Karen as Marilyn in the mirror, did anyone else think Karen looked more like Ginger Grant or Lesley Ann Warren’s character in Victor/Victoria than Marilyn?  I didn’t realize it was Karen until Ivy was freaking out, but I thought that whoever it was was such an odd looking Marilyn.  Based on that alone I think they cast the right actress as Marilyn.   

  • Violina23

    Things Smash does well (VERY well in fact)
    – Show Production Drama (Writing/Rehearsals/Producing — all the pieces that make a show)
    – Actor/Director Drama (Who these actors are as people, and how they interact & how it affects the show)

    Things Smash does POORLY:
    – Relationship Drama  (Worst. Affair. Ever)
    – Family Drama (Worst. Written. Kid. Ever)

    Stick to what you do well, show! PLEASE abort the Julia storyline! I otherwise enjoy her as a character, and I love her creative interactions with Tom. In fact, I love pretty much every character’s interaction with Tom come to think of it.  I loved that moment with Ivy when he went to comfort her and they both laughed. 

    • GenXcellent

      Yeah, I kind of want Julia and Michael’s family and friends to find out about their affair and immediately shun them and kick them out of their houses and onto the streets and then have them lose their jobs and go off the show and then the show can just start over.

      As much as I love Debra Messing…if they just got rid of her at this point, I’d be ok with it, because I can’t see how they can redeem her storyline now.

    • He’s bad, but not the worst kid ever.  Did you watch ever watch 24?

      • Violina23

        LOL I saw a few seasons on-and-off of 24, but I’m not sure I saw the kid you are referring to. I also know everyone hates the kid in Once Upon a Time, but this one just irritates me beyond belief because he isn’t just annoying, the character feels unrealistic AND annoying.

        • I’m pretty sure the WORST teenage son ever was the one on the remake of V.

          • Violina23

            Just when I managed to forget about him… ha! See? My repression was ALMOST successful!

  • dorothea_brooke

    ‘I thought I might start watching this show, but eh, I think I won’t know. But we’re just finishing up season 1 of Boss


    • dorothea_brooke

      6 shows. Comments being difficult!

  • GabrielOak

    I want Karen to take over the role of Marilyn and be bad to prove everyone wrong about how wonderful she is.

  • Diane_Chambers

    The whole Lawyers and Science Teachers Are Boring and Don’t Understand Us Creative Types trope is annoying as all get out.  I realize that Karen has her supportive press secretary boyfriend, but this is may just be part of the Karen Is from Iowa and Different trope.

    I did like that cover of Shake It Out, though.

  • StillGary

    Yes, the affair is creepy and not sexy and this is coming from someone who still thinks the Thorn Birds was hot. Did anyone else laugh out loud when Karen appeared in Ivy’s mirror, thinking of Black Swan? 

    • GenXcellent

      Hah, I hadn’t put the Black Swan thing together–but that’s great.

      Oh and yes, the Thorn Birds was totally hot. 😉

      • StillGary

        Really? I think so too! But I catch alotta flack for it 🙂 You know maybe this “Bad Romance” between Julia and actor guy would have seemed hotter had they resisted for … you know, more than two episodes!

  • Emmyllou

    What you said.

  • missinmass

    I think getting out of bed in the middle of the night wearing just your pjs to meet a man you once had an affair with screams YES. She never made a move as he unbuttoned her top either, so yes she wanted Michael and Michael knew it. I was dissapointed in them but isn’t that the nature of affairs? 

    • This is the tricky part for me. Nobody forced Julia to meet this guy in such potentially compromising circumstances.  I hesitate to call their interaction “rapey”.  She’s a grown women, not a teenager who is being stalked by an older man. Granted she is conflicted but Julia clearly made a choice and no one forced her to meet Michael, much less have sex with him. What’s discouraging is that the writers would paint this strong and successful women in such a dopey way. And they have done no favors to the actor who is playing Michael. I hope they read blogs because accross the internets the comments are uniformly unfavorable for this and other regrettable plot points.

  • LesYeuxHiboux

    I was really interested for the exploration of why Tom would consider recent coming-out as a turnoff, but it never materialized. I ignored most of the Julia stuff, and K. McPhee ruined a Flo song by blandifying it. The production number was just okay. This show is officially losing me. 

  • annieanne

    I have to admit, there isn’t on single plotline — other than the main Ivy/Karen storyline — that I’m finding compelling. You’re dead on about how creepy the Julia story is. I want to slap either Julia or the writers every time she’s onscreen.

    The whole Tom/Boyfriend plot plays as if written by a film school freshman. Absolutely no interest in any of it. And the sports loving chorus boy? Does he have to mention some game on tv everytime he’s onscreen?

    Eileen deserves to never get her play produced if she’s as stupid as she’s portrayed. No one who’s been in entertainment as long as she has would fall for a blatant suck-up like Ellis. He’s so damn one-dimensional a kindergardner would see thru him.

    Thank god the main storyline is working.

    • suzanne77

      That’s how they signal straight-acting? That he talks about sports? I was like, sheesh, maybe my non-sports loving husband is gay… *yawn*

  • Jenna Kuhmann

    Here’s my Julia theory: Her husband is such a push-over and so unattentive that she actually wants someone to call the shots and decide what is best for her. She likes Michael because he is always in charge, whether she wants him to be or not.  He is still massively creepy, and no should always mean no, full stop.  But seriously, if my husband decided he was going for a walk at 11:30 at night for such a blatantly transparent reason, I’d follow him with a shotgun, not bury my nose in my sceince textbook and say “Oh, don’t stay out too late; have fun.”  Didn’t it seem played as she wanted her husband to notice she was clearly going to do something shady?  The horribly fake stuttering as she was leaving her house?  Debra Messing is not that bad of an actress.  It doesn’t make this whole storyline any less creepy or disturbing, but it’s my theory of what the writers are trying to accomplish.

    Also, that whole Ivy mono-song in her bedroom was truly terrible.  What was that supposed to be, anyways?  I do like this show, but one of my favorite episodes this was not.

  • BookishBren

    Not sure if it would matter, but I really think anyone who is upset about last night’s scene between Julia and Michael should email NBC. You can do it here. 

  • Melanie S.

    So creeped out by the Julia/Michael scene, but I have to say Debra Messing acted the hell out of it–man, her face when he was taking off her shirt.  I don’t think I really appreciated how good she was before this show.

    • VioletFlame

       Agree. Hate, hate, hate Julia’s storyline, but damn! Debra Messing has a huge range as a fine actress.

  • I am SO GLAD that you guys mentioned how creepy those scenes with Juila and what’s-his-face were. I especially hated the “If you don’t talk to me I’ll make a scene” bit. I didn’t read the sex scene as rape, but it did bug me how push pushy he was, and the fact that after repeatedly being told “no” he kept going. She was trying to do the right thing for her family, (and future chinese baby) but none of that matters to him because he LUHVS HUH…. ugh. It really angered me that his character didn’t seem to get it. and then by the end of the episode, I was thinking, “well to what end?” they both have kids for fuck’s sake. so, no one has to know. but where will it end up? i’m really despising him more each episode. and I hate that Julia can’t reach out for help to say “he’s harassing/stalking me” because then she risks exposing her past affair. 

  • rowsella

    That empty rehearsal space scene– I looked away. This is a very stupid affair story and an intelligent woman’s character like Julia would know better.  She also would have never traded spit with the guy in front of her building without smacking him immediately afterwards.  This whole Tom is her kryptonite is stoooopid. 

    Ivy’s temper tantrum at rehearsal.  Well, girl, you keep sleeping with him, he keeps treating you like shit.  Do the math.  Most jobs are just not worth this kind of soul kill.  I think she is pissed off at herself be being such a cliche.

    Karen, if she was smart she will build a busy life filled with weddings and bar mitzvahs.  Hopefully she will soon have an agent (if that is who that guy was that gave her his card) and a recording contract.  It’ll pay the bills and better than depending on tips.  The more her success pisses Ivy off, the more I like her. 

    I have no idea why Ellis is still allowed any access.  I’m certain there must be lonely cougar woman all over the East Side looking for a young man like him to take to events, shower gifts on and verbally abuse.

    I am so sick of Marilyn now, it makes me twitch. 

  • Zippypie

    Just pulled this off the Film Method blog and thought it was appropriate – about sex scenes we never need to see again: “The scene where the guy really wants to have sex, but the girl doesn’t, so the guy kinda just goes ahead and starts doing sex to her anyway and she eventually comes around and has an amazing time about it.
    What people intend to show in a scene like this: That the girl really is actually into this guy but that she’s just shy or something.What people actually show in a scene like this: That the characters are kind of okay with sexual assault.
    But Aydrea! This totally happens in real life! Sometimes girls just play coy and are totally okay with getting busy if you convince them! Yes, you are correct. However, films are not real life and on screen, a guy who coerces sex out of a woman comes across as a creep. And the woman who can’t stick to her point of view long enough to get to sleep comes across as weak.
    (Also, let’s be honest, if someone is really not intent on any hanky panky, someone prodding them annoyingly while they’re trying to rest up for their big presentation the next day is more upsetting than seductive.)
    A scene like this can work if it’s clear that the characters really do care about each other and if there’s a clear reason for the woman’s reluctance. A scene where an exhausted Dad reminds an exhausted Mom that they’re going to make more of an effort to make a go of it could be informative and sweet. A post-therapy scene where a concerned boyfriend reminds his girlfriend that she doesn’t need to be afraid of closeness anymore can be compelling and transformative. But to show a guy just being greedy and inconsiderate and a woman finding that hot is insulting to everyone.”

  • One thing that could be really interesting about this show is the behind-the-scenes of a Broadway musical.  But I’m not seeing it.  I’m seeing a fake “aw shucks” (quoting another post) character that is too dumb to be believed.  Is that why we’re supposed to like her, cause she’s dumb?  That would fit in with the incurious culture we live in.  She’s so bland and when she raises her arm up in the air in every song she sings it just feels fake.
    And then we have people acting really silly – like Eileen.  Would a broadway producer be hanging out with the young, mail room-type guys?  Doesn’t she have any adult friends?  Why are these martinis so incredible?  Is it supposed to illustrate how rich she was and how she now appreciates economy?
    There is no chemistry between Julia and Michael.  It’s actually gross, and now after the rape scene I feel really anxious just thinking about them.  
    The Julia character is just Grace remixed, and not very well – the holding hands with Tom is straight out of Will and Grace.
    I think the woman playing Ivy is very, very talented.  
    I wish there was something that showed what a Broadway show is really like behind the scenes.  Anybody recommend a movie or book?

    • Girl_With_a_Pearl

      To answer your question at the end, the first movie I thought of was Chorus LIne, although a lot of it is a bit dated now.  Not the selection process, but some of the situations were much more shocking when I saw the play in 1978 than they are now.  (Yikes, I’m old.)  

  • leave_Blake_alone

    “And in other highly unrealistic romance news, any all-male gay cocktail party where an award-winning musical theater composer is introduced to the crowd would wind up with him as the center of attention, rather than as a curiosity. That scene struck us as so false that we momentarily wondered if the creators had ever met any urban gay men.”

    I hate to say this, but… the show’s conception of an all-male gay cocktail party’s reaction to a theatre guy showing up may not be that far off, accepting the premise that it is all “professional” (i.e. lawyers/finance people) gays in their late-20s early-30s in 2012. Really. (Although on the other hand, the whole “all I have to spend my money on now is MORE HOUSES” is pretty fake unless each of those guys owned their own million-dollar business, and if that’s the case, they probably wouldn’t be at some lawyer’s party.)

    • Which is why they’d all be swarming around him. He’d have the most interesting and glamorous job in the room.

      • adnama79

         Good points both.

  • m0r0

    She better have chemistry with him since she left her husband for him. In real life.

    • marywv

       I can’t believe that! I just wikipedia’d it and it said he also left his wife for Debra. Shocking and scandalous. And HIGHLY inappropriate that this be a major storyline in the show. It’s so insensitive to their betrayed spouses!

  • I guess I’m the only one, but Eileen slumming it in a dive bar was the highlight of my Monday.

  • BrightsideSusan

    Totally in agreement on the affair – creepy and wrong headed.  I fast forwarded through Ivy’s song.  Thought the Bar Mitzvah scene was weird but loved her song.

    I thought Eileen got into the new bar in the spirit of changing her life – going back to her younger days, maybe.  Not trying to live the same life she did with her rich husband.

  • SVLynn

    Cripes, add Will Chase to my Kevin Bacon list of good actors who perform incredibly creepy roles that I’d like to forget I ever watched. That was so wrong on so many levels.

  • I find the Julia storyline creepy because didn’t Debra Messing leave her husband in real life for this guy?

  • about the no-means-no-means-maybe thing … i was insanely creeped out while watching it, which it sounds like most people were, but maybe that’s the point. clearly the julia/michael relationship is f-ed up, but i think maybe the writers are intentionally setting up a situation in which michael is a highly manipulative and emotionally and sexually abusive partner and julia is his victim rather than intending that their audience assume that this kind of behavior is remotely acceptable?

    • adnama79

       That would be interesting but they aren’t handling it well if so.  The stand-alone episode would have you believe that the way he’s been treating her is just hunky-dory.  Happy smiles and all the next day…

  • In addition to that sex scene being creepy I could not get over the rudeness of doing it on that couch that the poor, innocent actors had to crawl around on the next day.

  • I was very pleased to see Ivy fight back a little bit and loved the scene where she blew up at Derek (although I think she could have gone a little further). I saw Megan Hilty in NINE TO FIVE and she was amazing. Truly gifted voice.

  • I thought this episode was so boring, I couldn’t stand Julia and the Bar Mitzva scenes were so boring, and I couldnt deal with Karen’s super short dress. 

  • glennethph

    I want to like this show but I can’t get behind anyone. I dislike everyone, and surprisingly, I’m irritated at the behind the scenes personal drama.  I want it to be about the show and how it may or may not get going.  But that’s not gonna happen.

  • I love Debra Messing but I agree her character has some major flows!  No morals for one.  That guy is not even that cute.  What’s the deal?

  • DCSheehan

    I’m hoping the writing around the adultery story has been intentional, that we’re meant to feel that he’s pushed her somewhat. Because he’s got stalker written all over him.

    Also History is Made at Night (the doo-wop) song already has 50 plays on my iPod. Best song of the series so far.

    And Anjelica Houston is a goddess.