I would normally be starting a new series this week, but since I didn’t do the post I intended last week, I am pushing everything back a week.
Several months ago when I heard that NBC was getting ready to come out with a musical television show as an answer to Glee I was outraged and swore that I would never watch it. I started to hear bits and pieces of news about this show they were dubbing Smash and, darn it, it sounded interesting. And Debra Messing, whom I love, was going to play a role in it. I stubbornly clung to a bizarre sense of loyalty and told myself that none of that mattered, I was NOT going to watch it. Then I went to see a movie and the little preview thing that plays before the movie starts gave a first look at the show. Crap. It looked amazing. Once again I was going to have to eat my words as I changed my tune.
Once I made the decision that I would not be betraying Glee by watching this show that looked like it was going to be very different anyway, I felt a weight lifted. Suddenly I was beyond excited for the premiere of Smash. So excited in fact, that I, along with two of my pals from Glee Chat, decided to begin a podcast about the show before it had even aired. It has now been on for three weeks (the forth episode airs tonight at 10PM EST) and I am completely hooked.
Smash takes a behind the scenes look at what goes into creating and producing a Broadway musical as songwriting team, Julia (Debra Messing) and Tom, come up with the idea of writing a musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. From the songwriting and storyboarding trials to the search for funding to casting and directing, we are taken on this journey with all the players involved as they work through these things on top of their own personal lives and situations. The show also stars Katharine McPhee (from American Idol) and Broadway star Megan Hilty as two young actresses, Karen and Ivy, who compete against each other for a chance to finally be a star.
I can not give enough praise to this show. The cast and characters that they play are all incredible. What’s nice is that, even though they all represent a different stereotype (naive smalltown girl, sleazy director, actress willing to do whatever it takes, etc) they are still complex, layered characters who manage to avoid falling into the caricature trap. It is clear that there are many underlying motivations within each person that we are not yet aware of. I can’t wait to see what is revealed about each and every one of them.
It should come as no surprise that I adore Debra Messing’s character, Julia, and the relationship she has with her writing partner Tom, who is very much gay. Their characters are completely different from those of Will & Grace, but I still get a nice feeling of nostalgia every time I see them together. But the character that grabbed the spot of my favorite from her very first scene, much to my surprise, was musical producer, Eileen (played by Anjelica Huston). Compared to the rest of the cast, Eileen does not have as much screen time, but what time she does have is always memorable and exciting. Whether she is tossing a Manhattan in her soon to be ex-husband’s face or simply walking down the street, she has a presence about her that takes over the scene and completely draws you in. I love her. So much.
My favorite part about this show, however, is the music. There are only 3-4 songs each episode and usually one of those is an original song with the rest being covers. What I love about Smash is that, so far at least, the music is integrated into the show in a way that makes sense within the narrative. It’s not like in Glee where someone just randomly breaks into song while walking down a hallway, instead, all of the songs are done in what are real life situations – auditions, demo recordings, karaoke bars, etc. There will still be some fantasy sequences, especially during the original numbers written for the Broadway show, but those sequences are usually to show what the number would actually look like on the stage and just add to the excitement and thrill of the song.
I can’t wait to see where this show goes over the course of the season. I love the characters, I love the stories, I love the music, I love the choreography, I love the sets, I love the costumes…I pretty much love everything. It is so much fun to see the world of Broadway brought to life on my TV screen and I hope that it continues for some time to come.
Have you watched Smash? What do you think of it? What do you like? Not like? Let me know in the comments.
Be sure to check out new episodes every Monday at 10PM EST on NBC and check out the podcast I host, Hypable’s Smash Chat, where we rehash each episode and the latest Smash news.