Smash: Let’s Be Bad

Posted on March 06, 2012

We found our spirit guide among the cast of characters this week. It’s Derek, and please try to control your shock that we relate best to the most acerbic, sarcastic person in the story. Sure, he’s a bit of a jerk, but so far he’s the only person involved in the Marilyn musical who isn’t letting his personal life interfere with the work on the play. Which is ironic, since he’s sleeping with the lead. But as Ivy found out this week, it doesn’t matter to him at all that they have a relationship; not when they’re working. He doesn’t see real people in the rehearsal space and he’s not interested in anyone’s thoughts except how they relate to Marilyn.

It’s that last bit that had us standing by him, because we realized about halfway through this episode that we really perk up whenever they head back to the rehearsal space. That’s where the story comes alive and all the various players and their agendas overlap. Taking us to Julia’s house or Eileen’s office or even Tom’s bed weakens the story just a little bit more every time they do it. See, the writers want an ensemble drama with the development of the play as the unifying story for all the characters. But we think we speak on behalf of the viewers when we say “The play’s the thing, bitches.” We don’t care about:

Julia’s mouthbreathing, oddly slow-talking son.

Julia’s husband’s trials as a teacher.

Julia’s adoption plans.

Julia’s inability to say “no” to a creepy, pushy man.

Dev’s career plans.

Karen’s jealousy of Dev’s co-worker.

Tom’s romantic and sexual conquests (no matter how cute they are).

You cut all of that out and you’re left with only about 25 minutes of story about the play. We realize that the development of a musical isn’t exactly dramatic material; or at least dramatic enough to fuel an entire TV series. Of course they have to give these characters backstories, inner lives, and conflicts of their own. Otherwise they’re just figures moving through a scene and reciting lines. We get that you have to give the characters something do besides working on the play, but only if their side-stories can illuminate something about them we wouldn’t find out otherwise or if they service the main story somehow. Julia’s home life just comes across like a lot of narrative wheel-spinning, as does Karen’s, and to a lesser extent, Tom’s. We stand with Derek: we’re only interested in these people’s feelings as they relate to Marilyn, the Musical.

The good news is, every time they return to the rehearsal space, the story revs up and the actors get to stretch and breath a little as they relate to each other in the scene. It’s exhilarating, even when they’re not doing musical numbers. In fact, the very best, most illuminating moment of this episode came when everyone stopped singing. Ivy’s been shown to be a bit of an insecure bitch, but in that one moment where she ended her number and held her position for what seemed like hours, waiting desperately for the stone-faced people facing her to say something, we learned more about her and about how hard it is to shoulder the weight of a musical as its star performer than we did in ten minutes of dialogue. And the performance of “All that Ja-” “Let’s Be Bad” did a fine job of shining a light on Ivy’s insecurities and how they relate to Marilyn in a way that Karen never will. Ivy has a fantastic storyline. Karen’s still vamping in front of her bedroom mirror trying to learn how to be sexy.

But their scenes together are electric. We’re loving how this rivalry is shaking out and how each character is more interesting when she’s facing the other in the story. That’s a true rivalry and one that’s bound to lead to even greater resentment: when you’re at your best facing off against your nemesis.

The play’s the thing, writers. You can wring a lot of dramatic potential solely out of the performing and rehearsal spaces. It doesn’t need to be Grey’s Anatomy, with Dancing. Don’t be timid about this, now. You’re crafting a modern stagedoor drama and you’re doing a fairly good job, but sometimes we get the sense that you want to pretend it’s not a stagedoor drama. Or that you feel you have to tart it up to prevent people from realizing they’re watching a stagedoor drama. The play’s the thing – and we strongly believe the show works only when they’re dealing directly with the play.

Seriously, we’re supposed to care whether Dev gets a job as the mayor’s press secretary?

 

[Photo Credit: nbc.com]

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  • Heather Reyes

    I agree completely. Especially about the mouthbreathing weirdo son, who last week wanted a baby sister a little too much, and this week, resents her! There is nothing interesting about any of these people.

    • kattyatlaw

       And WHY is he such a terrible actor? It’s painful to watch. My husband assumed (hoped?) that he was playing “stoned” but that’s how he was in the crazy baby sister speech too.

      • Terence Ng

        Or like he would if he had just woken up from a medically induced coma.

      • Violina23

        The actor is pretty bad, but to be fair, he doesn’t exactly have believable material. I still don’t buy that a teenage boy cares whether he gets an adopted sibling or not ;)

        • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

          I could see my kid still caring as a teen — both of my older two, one of whom is a boy, are baby crazy.  And Aidan has been since he was a year old.

      • Megan Patterson

         I thought he was being played by that terrible son from V, but no, THERE ARE TWO OF THEM.

  • BookishBren

    I really really really don’t care for the character of Ivy, but I know that I am not supposed to. I also really like the character of Derek, possibly because I also enjoy the UK show Coupling and he was on that, but his character is actually very interesting. 

    I understand the need to show characters outside of the show because what they bring to the show affects their performances etc, but it does feel as if they suddenly started writing Dev in a way that I can see him becoming a jerk pretty soon. I also could not care LESS about the adoption story or Julia’s attraction to a former boyfriend. I find him creepy actually.

    Still loving the show.

    • Eclectic Mayhem

      Hooray for people who’ve seen Coupling!  Brilliant stuff from Who showrunner ‘The Mof’.

      • http://twitter.com/bredalot Bridget Smith

        It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that he was Jack Davenport. Actually, it took hearing him speak: he’s got a very distinctive voice but a very versatile face that looks different in everything he’s in. I really like him, and I’m loving him in this show.

        • crackineggs

           I recognized the voice too, and it was driving me crazy until I realized he was from Coupling.  Fantastic show.  Not the same after Jeff left though.

          • Michelle Le

            ohhhh it was AWFUL after Jeff left!! coupling was the first tv series i ever bought on dvd, but i didn’t even bother with the last season.

      • cakesandale

        Jack Davenport was the reason I watched Smash in the first place and he’s the reason I’m still watching it. Coupling is one of my all-time fav Britcoms. He gets my complete attention when he’s on the screen. So far none of the other characters in Smash can hold my attention for too long. 

      • BookishBren

        My partner is English. And we are HUGE Moffat fans from Dr. Who to Jekyll to Sherlock. I basically adore everything he does. 

  • GenXcellent

    “Julia’s inability to say “no” to a creepy, pushy man”

    Who she is essentially the boss of!! W.T.F.

    • kattyatlaw

      I really don’t get the attraction there. They’ve got to give us something more than him singing and telling her she tells nice if they want us to buy it for a second. So far, it’s just creepy and weird.

      • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

        And in real like these two actors are dating, I just can’t see them together but I quess they do.

        • Emmyllou

          Are they?!!

      • chelwi

        What I don’t get is that she wasn’t able to hide her discomfort even the tiniest bit about having him in the play, but we’re supposed to believe that she managed to have an affair with him and keep it secret from her business partner?

        • http://neverthatway.wordpress.com/ Maggie

          When she also does things like kiss him right in front of her house, where her son can and does see them out the window?  Come on, writers.  Come.  ON.

    • http://twitter.com/kaylabeth_ Kayla

      Especially when it’s Will Chase vs. Brian d’Arcy James and nobody in their right mind would choose Will over Brian. At least, I don’t think so. (But then I again, I kind of unfairly despise Will Chase because he absolutely destroyed the role of Roger in RENT. And I am biased towards Brian d’Arcy James because he made a fantastic Dan in Next to Normal.) And clearly, I am incapable of separating real life from fiction….

  • SneakyKitty

    I really like Derek too, I find him the most interesting so far.  He’s a jerk, yeah, but an interesting jerk.  Ivy is also pretty fun to watch, and I completely agree about the scene of her holding her position.  That was the moment she really clicked for me.   

    I kind of wondered if the Dev storyline (which, man, I could not possibly care LESS about) is supposed to be somehow mirroring Ivy’s insecurities?  Like, Karen will start to understand Ivy’s feelings through her own suspicion/jealousy of Dev’s coworker, or something.  But that is probably giving the writers too much credit.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Norris/26609454 Liz Norris

    Watching the actor who plays Julia’s son literally makes me squirm in discomfort. Has this kid ever acted before? Was that really the best teenage boy (or teenage boy-seeming adult) the casting people could find?

    Michael came off as really creepy in this episode, almost stalker-ish.

    Agree with TLo about all the useless personal drama…except for Tom. Maybe it’s just because I find the actor adorable, but I kind of enjoyed the scene of him and that guy (whose name I’ve unfortunately forgotten) laughing about how bad the sex was. It just seems like something you don’t see very often (particularly with a gay couple). Usually in movies and TV, the first time between two people leads to fireworks and magic and rainbows and whatever. But you know what? Sometimes the sex just sucks.

    • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

      the only part that I liked with Tom this week was the part where he was making up a song about the son’s drug troubles as he was complaining on the couch.That was funny. I just wish they’d played up the reaction from Julia’s son better. 

      They have a lot of great potential moments so far that are good but could have been better if they’d played off them a little more, i.e. last week, the chorus friends should have revealed how they too were stars in their home town, like “Iowa” and come to New York and are one of thousands of extremely talented people trying to REALLY make it. 

      • CozyCat

        Yeah.  If they added a bit of “Chorus Line” to their basic “Band Wagon” setup, they could have some really compelling TV.

      • kattyatlaw

         oh my gosh, YES. the made up drug songs were FANTASTIC.

    • kattyatlaw

       I liked the Tom stuff too.. UNTIL they laughed about how bad the sex was. It was SO Carrie & Berger circa 2003.

  • ClaireJennings

    Hey guys – loving your recaps as usual, but want to ask: have you ever seen the Canadian show Slings and Arrows? It’s about putting Shakespeare at a fictionalized Stratford Shakespeare Festival. I think it would so up your alley.

    • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

      I love Slings and Arrows, too, and I once recommended it to Tlo and they said they watched it. It’s on Netflix streaming for those of you who are interested.

    • Browsery

      I really like Slings and Arrows, although the drama is a bit mild.  Could its Canadian provenance be the reason?

      • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

        I am not Canadian but I found the backstage drama and the actors who played the various characters in Slings and Arrows to be compelling, (Rachel McAdams got her start on this show).  At least it compares favorably to Smash where almost everything away from the rehearsals is cringe-worthy.

        • Rroxy

          I was just thinking that! I love SLINGS AND ARROWS! How great was Paul Gross in it? The Chinese adoption is way boring, Tom’s love life does not interest me, not if it’s with a lawyer who has nothing to do with Marilyn, I suspect Michael of trying to beef up Joe Di Maggio’s part by sucking up to Julia, I wish they’d get rid of Ellis, who really bugs me… and frankly, I don’t get the Ivy Lynn love. She’s a b*tch and I’m really tired of her insincere trademark toothpaste smile. She’s just imitating Marily, but Karen can play her. Both actresses are doing a wonderful job with their roles, but Megan Hilty’s desperate, brittle smile is really getting on my nerves. Karen should get the lead, that’s all I’m saying.

          • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

            Paul Gross, Yes! LOVE HIM.

  • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

    Yes, I largely agree with your objections. I forgive a lot with the Julia story simply because I like watching Debra Messing in action. 

    I do think that the Karen story does have some relation to the Marilyn story and her learning to be sexy is part of her discovering her power as a performer, which I do think is a worthwhile storyline. 

    Really not interested in Tom’s love life.

    I did appreciate that Karen did seem to learn to be in the chorus, and I did feel Ivy’s pain with the mixed signals she was getting from Derek, and I appreciate that they are not flopping back and forth between “Ivy is Marilyn, no KAREN is Marilyn” as I thought they might from the previews. 

    I freakin’ LOVED “Let’s be Bad” when they finally portrayed it in full production mode and I thought that Megan really knocked it out of the park with her performance. 

  • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

    I keep wondering if the mayor ofNew York would have a British guy as his press secretary.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Norris/26609454 Liz Norris

       Yeah, I’ve been wondering that too. I’m sure there have been Brits in American politics, but extremely young ones like Dev?

    • lovelyivy

      Or why a Cambridge grad (or Oxford, whatever, don’t care) would emigrate from the UK to NYC just to work in the mayor’s office at all. Even Bloomberg.

      His character would work much better if he was in finance, or pr or something. Too bad on tv those industries are secret code for ‘douchebag’.

  • Girl_With_a_Pearl

    Well I was wrong (again).  I thought the thing you two would be discussing this morning was the scene on national television showing two men in bed the next morning discussing how bad the sex was.  I can’t recall ever seeing that on television before.

    • Browsery

      Great, funny scene.

  • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

    Oh, another thing…. I am a little concerned with the overly obvious/cheesy “breaking into song” thing…. That always makes me cringe a bit, especially with Creepy Joe DiMaggio Guy this week. I hope they don’t overdo that….

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002673395871 Roadkill Writer’s Camp

      And possibly the worst cover of a Leon Russell gem ever. Go home, Michael is
      right.

  • GenXcellent

    I don’t think having personal drama is unnecessary, it’s jut not done that well in this case.  They seem to be overthinking it a bit…the stress and work of developing a new musical is probably enough of a starting point for drama…but instead they dump so much stupidity on Julia that it’s just a huge joke.

    And Karen is just so. effing. dull. (despite her newly raised feminist consciousness).  And too tall and lanky for musicals.

    Derek is def the only interesting one…even Anjelica Huston and her tech support issues (seriously?) are not that compelling. (I mean, of course evil intern now has her password and I’m sure will use it for evil, but really, is that really where they want this kind of show to go?)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Norris/26609454 Liz Norris

      I have issues with Karen myself, but…she’s too tall and lanky for musicals? Is there some reason that musicals should be restricted to short, rounder actors?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Norris/26609454 Liz Norris

      I have issues with Karen myself, but…she’s too tall and lanky for musicals? Is there some reason that musicals should be restricted to short, rounder actors?

      • Mariah J

         As someone in theater I can tell you it is a known fact that girls taller or shorter than 5’2″-5’5″ have a hard time getting cast. Ensembles have to be uniform.

      • GenXcellent

        What Mariah said–I’ve always thought of Broadway dancers/actresses as needing to be shorter to mid-range height-wise.

        As for the lanky, I guess I was thinking of more in terms of her eventually playing Marilyn Monroe, a historically “rounder” person.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6RS6NLL44AED3E4QWIYTDQGU6I Psy_Chick

          They can use padding to give her some curves, but the real Marilyn was on the shorter side, and was a lot tinier than most people think. The idea that she was size 8 or above is a myth. I’ve heard her said to be as large as size 18, which is absolutely absurd. She was actually around the equivalent of a modern size 2. A number of her costumes were recently sold at auction, and they had to alter the size 2 mannequins to make them small enough so the clothes would fit on them.

          • Lilithcat

            What’s a size 2 now was a size 8 (or larger) back in Marilyn’s day.

          • ohayayay

            Yes, the “Marilyn was a size 8 (or 10 or 12)” thing is actually “Marilyn was the modern day BRITISH size 8-12″ – which is much smaller than the current U.S. size 8-12. UK size 8 is an extra small (0-2).

    • annieanne

      Evil Intern is the most poorly drawn character IMHO. Julia, who knows he likes listening at closed doors, can’t be bothered to make sure he’s not around before she confesses her affair to Tom. So, of course, Evil Intern now knows her dark secret.
      And, because that’s not enough, he gets to find out Eileen’s password.
      He’s a complete cliche. And creepy to boot. 

      • Eric Nguyen

        Totally agreed!  I started a new game to lower my annoyance for him, every time Evil Intern comes on I drink.  I just don’t know of anyone who gets so many chances at a job.  Every character has their motives that are explained in some way, but Evil Intern is just doing all these things for…???  Who sees him going to the “dark side” and totally mucking things up by joining Jerry since his loyalties and “love for Tom and Julia’s work” is mainly centered on himself?

    • http://6things.blogspot.com par3182

      “Too tall and lanky for musicals”?

      Sutton Foster would like to have a word with you.

      • kattyatlaw

         But she’s the star, not a member of the ensemble.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Norris/26609454 Liz Norris

          But she was in the ensemble of Thoroughly Modern Millie (and probably other shows before that), along with serving as the understudy (which is probably where Smash is heading anyway). Then, stardom.

      • VioletFlame

        As would Tommy Tune…although I’m wondering now if GenXcellent intended ensemble. As Mariah J said “ensembles need to be uniform.”

  • StillGary

    Thank you! Some of these characters need a little PR — the set up is so interesting (except the serenade on the stoop) — but I don’t really like anyone!

  • Terence Ng

    Thank you for mentioning the slow-talking son. I have no idea what to think of him. It’s bizarre that Julia’s flipping out on him using drugs, since he sure seems to be jacked up on Ridilin…

    Also, how weird is it to see Julia flipping out about weed? I get that she can be concerned as it relates to the adoption, but how could someone who lives in New York and spent her entire college years and her professional life studying art and theater and music not have encountered weed herself, or collected numerous friends who enjoy an occasional toke. Girl’s in New York, not a cloister.
    It was really hard for me to sympathize with Ivy. Her insecurity and her constant projecting onto Karen were so obvious that I would think even she would do a step-back, especially when Karen was calling her out about it in the best way you probably can without feeding into it. Karen, on the other hand, is getting my vote (not like I have a choice). Her “Hi, I’m Ivy” bit in the mirror cracked me up.

    And Derek, I think he’s just a player and a jerk. It’s one thing to say “Look, I’m focused on this musical, and I need everyone to be right there with me and leave their drama aside or it’s not going to work,” and a whole other thing to say “Look, I’m being a jerk to you because I only care about this musical. So…are you going to stay the night? Don’t be mad at me for being an asshole to you.” Specifically “Don’t be mad at me” always rubs me the wrong way. If you’re going to cop to acting like a nozzle, then don’t ask someone not to be mad at you for it. Be mad at yourself for acting that way.

    If the point is that Ivy nailed the number after everything then why does he just storm out? If we’re supposed to believe that she got it together and finally delivered the performance, him walking out only portrays that there’s no pleasing him. He’s a nozzle.

    BTW, what kind of friends does she have who know she’s drunk, going to speak to Derek, and still let her go? The only sympathy I could muster for her was when she was drinking, because I assume that’s when she’s being real, instead of those bitch-tastic moments with Karen and then spinning around and laying the sugar on everyone else. Someone needs to remind her that she was a chorus girl two weeks ago and that all of her friends are chorus people.

    • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

      “If the point is that Ivy nailed the number after everything then why does he just storm out?”

      Because as good as she is, she’s not Derek’s vision for Marilyn. Karen is.

      • Terence Ng

        I could go either way on that one, personally, so it could be right. I just feel like the show was portraying both of them as right for the role, but in different ways. If, truly, Karen is his vision for Marilyn, it suggests to me that by default, Ivy is not that vision. And since Derek basically made the final call, instead of finding himself out voted or something like that, it would be odd if the reveal is that he really didn’t think Ivy has what it takes, but picked her just because she had sex with him. 

        The show’s established in the pilot that both Ivy and Karen have the voice, and Ivy has the experience, so if neither of those things are sufficient enough to have made Derek believe Ivy could fill the role, then it looks like it just comes down to her boning him, which is pretty sad for what it suggests about Ivy’s qualifications. 

        But I think you’ve mentioned earlier that the show’s slowly been turning the sound away to make it seem as though Karen has the better voice. If that’s the direction they’re going to pursue, instead of what they had with the pilot, then all of this makes more sense.

        • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

          I have always like Katherine McPhee ever since her American Idol days but I still can’t see her as Marilyn. I can’t get past that Katherine’s tall, lanky physicality is not Marilyn’s form. I am rooting for Karen as a character and for Katherine as a performer, but I just can’t buy why Derek would think that she would make a better Marilyn, although I am fully prepared to be wrong in the coming episodes.

        • annieanne

          I think what the writer’s are trying to portray isn’t that Ivy got the job because she’s sleeping with Derek but rather that as a person Ivy is much more Marilyn-like than Karen is. So in the auditions she came across as closer to Derek’s vision. But now he’s realizing that as a performer Karen can portray Marilyn much better than Ivy.

        • introspective

          Am i the only one incredibly bored by Karen in particular when shes doing anythig except performing in the rehearsals??? Her solos are grating to me and her wide eyed bit is completely annoying. Maybe Karen is Dereks vision for Marilyn but she sure aint mine… Ivy is someone that reads as more interesting to me and who I could tolerate the storyline following around in her off hours- especially if she and Derek keep having riveting scenes like the one they had after the rehearsal at his place. Karen trying to pout in her room?? Not so much. Boring. And done to death. Just like everything involving Karens character.

          • Terence Ng

            As a viewer, it’s not like Ivy is wowing me, though Hilty is clearly doing the Marilyn stage voice to a T. Even when Karen WAS Marilyn in the 20th Century Mambo, she hardly feels “right” for the part. More like, I’ve decided to dress as Marilyn for Halloween. But I agree, I really only find her interesting when she performs. At all other times, her character’s just your typical doe-eyed girl in a big city. She hasn’t done anything that I really find distinct to her or compelling.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=720742723 Sarah Winningham

        I get that that’s where the show is trying to lead us, but I just don’t believe that there is any way Karen could have adequately performed “Let’s Be Bad.”

    • Browsery

      Julia’s child was taken into police custody after being discovered in a public place allegedly consuming a particularly potent form of marijuana.  You don’t have to be a wealthy Mommy to be freaked out by that.

      • Terence Ng

        I was commenting on the society that she lives in, not her wealth, which I didn’t mention at all. Again, she studies art, is surrounded by art-types, boho’s and creatives alike, and produces art in a major city. Basically every lecture point she gave was from the Dangers of Marijuana manual that treats it as if it’s equivalent to crystal meth. It just didn’t read believable to me. If Julia was a sheltered, straight-edge-hardcore mom from the suburbs of Pleasentville who knows nothing about marijuana, I might buy it, but given her character so far, it’s odd to see her treat weed as if it’s the most terrifying drug out there. The only part that makes sense about her histrionics is fear for how it will affect the adoption.

        • http://www.GiftedCollector.com Nancy Abrams

          I know several adults who have smoked weed for decades but freaked out when their own teenage children tried it. Hypocritical and unrealistic, yes, but somewhat understandable.

        • http://twitter.com/_KarenX Karen Miller

           I only watched it once, but I took her lecture as the dangers of having an arrest and/or conviction on your record. I know he’s only 16 and it probably would be a juvenile record, but what if he slips when he’s 18 and gets arrested them? Or whenever? (I’m not sure about the laws and ages in NY.) It’s made it harder for people I know with even minor charges to find employment. I wouldn’t say their lives have been wrecked, but it’s not something I would wish for my kids to have to have that following them around, no matter what I might feel about marijuana.

  • Mariah J

    Yes!!! I’m so tired of Julia’s weak brushing off of creepy guy (I still don’t know his name because he doesn’t have a character outside of “wants to bang Julia”) and Dev-Drama but at least we didn’t have the assistant doing any evil mustache twirling this episode. I love the workshop scenes, need more of THAT!

  • Browsery

    Agree that the story comes alive in the rehearsal room and on the fantasy stage.  Some comments on the characters and story lines:

    Karen — I hate ingenue story lines.   This doe-eyed innocent is getting boring.  No wonder they’re introducing insecurities to give her character some depth.  

    Leo — I like him.  I read somewhere that they’d replaced the actor, but I haven’t checked. The my Mom’s cooking is nuked Trader Joe’s was cute.

    Julia — I find her annoying and perplexing at times, but I like that they make her a bit dislikeable.  I like that she hates Ellis, because I hate Ellis, too. (Is he supposed to be such a straight-up villain?)

    Ivy — A surprisingly more interesting story line and character than that of Karen, although I hate Marilyn Monroe adulation.

    Derek — Interesting, at least as played by Jack Davenport.  His revelation that he doesn’t care about people’s feelings seemed like a sudden shift to humanize him, though.

    Character who plays Joe DiMaggio — I find him creepy, too.

    Adoption plot — Do not care, and it’s a little too self-righteously liberal, do-gooder.

    Oh, and the character, RJ, who supposedly was the Executive Editor of the New York Times was completely unbelievable.  Too young, too good looking, and why would she be talking to a fairly low level mayoral staffer?  Wouldn’t it be much more likely for a City Hall reporter to have that kind of contact with an assistant press secretary

  • formerlyAnon

    “We realize that the development of a musical isn’t exactly dramatic material; or at least dramatic enough to fuel an entire TV series.”

    But, you know, some of us wish they’d try. Show us the characters’ professional back story – where they’re from, where (if) they trained, what was their last project, whom they’ve worked with before. Where does the money come from. What kind of professional reputation does everyone have, & how did they get it. Include the designers, the crew, the many professionals who provide the goods & services that go into a production.

    People live HUGE emotional lives in their work, especially work that revolves around big, time & energy intensive, projects.

    I maintain it could be done (maybe as a pseudo-documentary?) & the audience would be fanatic, though possibly not enormous.

    • GorgeousThings

       Oooh, kinda like that ER live episode when they were being “filmed” for a documentary. That could be fun and interesting!

  • golden_valley

    My husband and I absolutely agree that this show slows to a halt as soon as they leave the rehearsals and musical numbers.  The dialogue is predictable and dull.  It is poorly delivered.  None of the actors make us interested in the lives of the characters outside of the musical. We just don’t see anything that makes us care about the people who are not “on stage.” This could be a 30 minute show of music and dancing.  We’d be perfectly thrilled with that.

  • GorgeousThings

    They could have Julia’s entire family die (including the creepy, pushy man, and as-yet-unadopted baby) in a plane crash and it would only help the storyline. Really, every time they cut to her personal life, the whole story just goes “thud”.

    OTOH, they can have Dev read the NYC phone book and I’d watch him.

    • Stage_Left

      Re: Dev, yes.  Absolutely love that actor.  AND I hear he’s a pretty amazing musical performer himself.  I really, really hope we get to see some of that action.  Possibly it’s why they were willing to stretch the suspension of disbelief about a British guy working PR for the mayor.  Bring on Dev’s fantasy song!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5UQHEKG5EDX4T6NMARUC565TPQ Amy

    Don’t get me wrong..I like the actors and I love the music and the concept of the musical. But…all the “real” stories of each person seem as frothy as the storyline in a musical itself. No one tosses 10 drinks in their ex hubby’s face like a cartoon character or starts doing dance numbers with their frenemies from work 2 days after you met them. The actors seem capable but the story just feels a bit silly. Or is that what they intended?

    • Violina23

      I don’t disagree at all, but in a way I’m glad they rushed the frememies thing — I’d rather not watch 4 more episodes of “Boo hoo, Karen is the outcast”. This way, it kinda pulls the focus onto the tension between Karen & Ivy, which I admit, I’m eager to see how it plays out.  {Although I’ll bet anyone a thousand bucks that they’ll be best friends by the end of the first season, if not partway through the second}

  • annieanne

    Amen. The character’s backstories don’t (yet?) play as adjuncts to the main plot. They’re interruptions. And increasingly annoying interruptions:
    An adoption story? Seriously? What on earth is that supposed to add to the main storyline?
    Star sleeping with the director? Done. And done. Ivy’s insecurities would be much more interesting if she and Derek had a purely professional relationship.
    Julia and Joe DiMaggio. Writer sleeping with lead, to add to director sleeping with lead. Wow. There’s some original storytelling.
    Dev’s job issues. Really? We’re supposed to care?

    The only storyline that’s remotely interesting is Eileen’s problem getting the show funded. At least it’s related to the play.

  • kattyatlaw

    Poor Karen. She’s 24 years old, yet her idea of “sexy” comes straight out of Flashdance. Oh, sweetie.

    She has to stop being so damned nice though. Get a little selfish, girl. Get frustrated. Stop being impossibly gracious to everybody from Ivy to Derek to Dev. My favorite bit of her ever was when she bitched out the dancer last week. More of that!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046681022 Paula Berman

       When she went up to Ivy to comfort her, I said out loud, “Oh god, just leave it alone!” I mean, how did she think that convo would go down, they would become BFFs or something?

  • nannypoo

    I have tried to like this show, I really have, but I find it ridiculous for the above reasons and more. Last night’s vision of Katharine McPhee and her boyfriend doing the Big Nasty in the back of a car with a complete stranger a few feet away was the last straw for me. I had thought that watching her gyrate on the chair a few scenes earlier would be enough, but no. It went on to provide the most out-of-character experience ever witnessed on television outside of Glee. What a stupid show.

  • kmiller1k

    The story comes alive in the rehearsal hall because we love seeing them perform and how the staging is done. Another place to give us this would be at the dance lessons the chorus people talked about. Could be fun watching them work at dancing to today’s music like they did with Rumour Has It.

  • paultoes

    The musical number for “Let’s Be Bad” was amazing and brilliantly done. I am going to be rewatching that a few times. 

  • http://asskickingadviser.com/ Ass Kicking Adviser

    Amen! It’s actually quite cringe-inducing how bad some of the subplots are.

  • Violina23

    Agree completely! My fascination in this show is the makings of a broadway show, not the dramatic antics of the writers, producers, stars, etc. That’s not to say the characters shouldn’t be interesting and have interesting lives, but it’s all about the creation of a show. I love watching the rehearsals, I wonder how accurate the depiction is.  And yes, as much of an asshole as the director is, he knows how to make a show, and that’s why he’s the director. Masters [of any  given craft] are not always nice, kind, caring, compassionate people. Ask anyone who worked with Steve Jobs.

    P.S. I didn’t think there could be a teenage son character more annoying than the kid in “V”.  I was wrong…

    • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

      I was the assistant to the director for an award winning high school drama program and whew, as much as I loved my boss, he was a difficult piece of work, one minute charming, the next minute cruel. But I still loved him especially because he produced some of the most beautiful and creative productions.

  • Megan Patterson

    I didn’t even know what Dev did until this episode. Also when Karen started singing and vamping alone in her apartment, I could barely quell the laughter. And I find the Ivy/Karen rivalry kind of annoying, because Ivy is clearly the one for the part. I mean, it’s not even a question for me. 

  • http://twitter.com/VeronikaMK Veronika Kaufman

    didn’t anyone see Pirates of the Caribbean? 

  • http://twitter.com/bstolemyremote bitchstolemyremote

    Completely agree! As we explore in our recap (here: http://wp.me/p1VQBq-yb) the show’s most interesting and innovative feature is the Marilyn musical and how they put it together. It’s when they try and explore the people behind the show that it becomes just another mundane drama. Didn’t these people learn anything from “A Chorus Line”?!

    Derek is by far the most interesting and relateable character. That is a little scary! 

  • http://twitter.com/karenwalsh Karen Walsh

    “The play’s the thing, bitches.” YES times a million!  Oh, and Derek’s my fave too, on more than one level.  I did like Tom’s song about Leo’s drug arrest, though.

  • JMansm

    Guys, I’m sorry but I have to STRONGLY disagree. Yes, I love the stuff at the rehearsal space but I appreciate that it takes up less than half of the story (and I don’t care about Marilyn Monroe whatsoever so to me it’s just fun to watch a rehearsal in general because I love musical theatre). I absolutely love all the side drama with Tom’s date, Eileen being fabulous and angry, Julia’s bizarre son, Dev and that woman whoever she is, and everything else. Plus, there are some characters who have barely any role in a rehearsal (Julia, Eileen, etc.) so in order for them to be part of the story we need to see the rest of their lives. I really really really don’t think you speak for all viewers when you say “the play’s the thing” because I think this show needs both elements to continue to be delightful and compelling.

  • JMansm

    Also, anyone who is calling Michael CREEPY just needs to stop. That’s WILL CHASE ladies. 

  • http://twitter.com/NostalgiaOD NostalgiaOD

    THANK YOU!  I have had “All That Jazz” stuck in my head all day because of this damn show!  Glad I’m not the only one who thought that.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6RS6NLL44AED3E4QWIYTDQGU6I Psy_Chick

    It just annoys the piss out of me how Ivy way overdoes her Marilyn voice. It’s all “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”, all the time. Too breathy, too squeaky. Ugh. I know we’re not supposed to like her. It’s working.

    I really hope they use Karen as Norma Jean and use Ivy as the drugged up mess she some day becomes (rest her soul).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WKSM57KFWUGRMKPDUW4SPL3GDM Kathryn

    The woman playing Ivy is so talented.  More of her and less of McPhee with a permanent angst-ridden, furrowed brow.  It’s exhausting.

  • BrightsideSusan

    Michael went to her home, had dinner with her son and then makes moves on her – after she said no a dozen times,  right in front of her home.  Really tacky storyline.

  • PeaceBang

    I think someone needs a crazy mom a la Barbara Hershey in “Deranged Swans” or whatever that ballerina movie was.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RHLSUVX3NCPB4OSS5BM7GZIXUE P. Capet

      Katharine McPhee has a real life stage mom if that counts.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RHLSUVX3NCPB4OSS5BM7GZIXUE P. Capet

    This show doesn’t make any sense at all and the characters are cardboard cutouts.  The dialogue is often laughable.  I’d be much happier if they went for pure camp, because then the terrible dialogue would be enjoyable and there’d be a sense of joy in it all.  Instead, it’s morose.  (Tom is well-written or maybe he’s just a good actor.)  And I don’t like the little things, either, like turning Marilyn into a victim or bitch, like they casually did in the Let’s Be Bad number.  Better writing, please, and keep it going with guest stars to cheer things up.  Patrick Wilson can sing and he’s cute.

  • cleep1000

    You guys are so right. It all comes alive in rehearsal. I wanted more musical numbers this week, or more workshopping. This show is an opportunity to show non-theatre geeks what it’s all about. We can watch any number of other shows about adultry and difficult teens. Never thought I’d say this about any show, but it needs to be more like Glee. Get the singing and dancing in there, any way you can.

    • cleep1000

      Oh, and can I also say, I absolutely hate Tom’s assistant and wish he’d be pulled off-stage with a giant hook.

  • Redlanta

    I agree also!  I hate it when characters act SOO blatantly stupid!  So Creepy Male lead sings on her step, and she starts sucking face with him; apparently clueless the singing might bring her son to the window!!  Derek’s sexual harrassment of Karen is creepy- she needs to kick him in the balls and tell him to focus on the play, instead of playing her.  Love Ivy- most rounded character portrayal of all!

  • miatamam

    Poor Leo…he must be suffering from that aging disease because he sure ain’t a teenager.  For Leo’s plot lines to work the character needed to be cast as a young 13 or 14 year old child, not a creepy young guy with a five o’clock shadow.  And am I the only one bothered by how much Joe DiMaggio does NOT look like Joe DiMaggio?  Our first glimpse of Arthur Miller doesn’t hold much hope either.

  • fridacormorant

    Crap.  I really WANT to love this show, but I don’t want to have to feel guilty in a feminist way about it.  For f**)& sake, when a woman says no, please let it mean “NO!”  One of my primary loves of the show is Debra Messing.  Let her say no and mean it.  I think he’s a creepy stalker.  Now, to the meat of it: when are they going to realize the big hole in the musical is the fact that Marilyn is hugely complex and at least two different women?  I liked the staged version of “Let’s Be Bad,” but even so, it’s so cliche — poor drug addled, haunted Marilyn …  name your starlet.  Marilyn was bigger than that.  And I don’t see any chemistry with Joe.  I hope the glaring holes in the idea of Marilyn The Musical will be addressed as time goes on.  It’s hard to believe in this vehicle for the story when I would run laughing from any workshop with what they’ve shown me.  No tension, hugely predictable.  But I will watch this for the same reason I’ve watched “All About Eve” at least 100 times, and even like “42nd Street.”  And the drug bust songs!  That alone was worth an hour! 

    • fridacormorant

      I am loving Derek because he should be played by Alan Rickman, but is managing to make it his own.  

    • marywv

      I feel like they’re going to go there… and I keep waiting. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before Julia realizes she’s not really telling Marilyn’s story in an different and innovative way and suddenly it dawns on her that it has to split the role. The dragging it out in a cliche fashion is kinda killing me though. It seems so one-note and blasse at this point.

  • http://twitter.com/connectinglines Me Again

    I think it’s hilarious that you referred to the “Let’s Be Bad” number as “All That Jazz,” because that was EXACTLY my thought when I watched the number.  That it was really good but did seem a little “reductive,” as Madonna would say,  of “All That Jazz.”  Case in point: why were those girls in flapper costumes?  Flappers are from the ’20s, Monroe’s heyday was in the ’50s.  The flapper costumes made it feel even more like Chicago, which is actually set in the 1920s.

  • Derek_anny

    “Seriously, we’re supposed to care whether Dev gets a job as the mayor’s press secretary?”

    Only if it garners Mayoral Interest in the musical.  That would be a great publicity thing.  But I have no idea who Dev is because I’m not watching.

  • marywv

    UGH. JULIA’S HOME LIFE SUCKS! It’s the worst part of the show. seriously – her son is weird. He’s supposed to be sixteen but until this week acted with the maturity of a ten-year-old, and really, I just do not care about her family sitch! Also annoying this romance with the lead male in the play. Boring. And trite.

    I don’t mind Dev so much because he’s charming on screen and I sort of think on some level it will tie into the Marilyn thing, so I’m willing to go with the Dev/Karen thing.

    Really though, please ditch the heavy reliance on Julia’s homelife. I’d much rather watch Eileen and Jerry divorce!