The SMASH Reality Index (S2, EP10)

Christian Borle and Liza Minnelli - SMASH

Christian Borle and Liza Minnelli - SMASH

By NineDaves and Linda Buchwald

Every once and awhile, we have to give the SMASH writers props for getting an episode right. And while “The Surprise Party” was by no means perfect, we’ll give them kudos for actually finding a common theme in all the storylines that not only made sense, but was worth exploring. Surprise, indeed!

The topic on this week’s agenda? Professionalism. Where do you draw the line between working, dating, and friendship? Should they be mutually exclusive? Tom struggled with the fact that Ivy couldn’t be friends with him anymore, at least not while he was directing her. Karen wanted Jimmy to go public with their relationship. Old feelings started to stir up between Julia and Scott. Richard didn’t want Eileen’s work to get in the way of their dating. There were no easy answers to any of these conflicts because everyone had valid reasons for their actions. Sometimes people date and work together and they have long happy lives together. Other times it all goes to shit. These are questions that not only matter in theater, but really, in any work environment.

In the end, Karen and Jimmy decided they’re willing to take that risk, even if it means the wrath of Derek. Tom and Ivy decided to keep things professional, even if it means missing out on the fun times now and then. Julia and Scott decided to give things a go, even if it means hurting an already fragile relationship. And Richard and Eileen decided to take things slow, even if it means … not fucking for awhile. For possibly the first time this season, we’re intrigued to see where things go from here! (More-so with the Julia and Scott sex, and less so with the Eileen and Richard sex).

Plus this episode gave us Liza Minnelli! How can you go wrong with that!?!

Here’s how it all played out:

Totally True

  • Ivy and Tom are having a tense time in tech rehearsals. And whenever Ivy throws shade towards Tom, the whole cast laughs. We’d like to think ensemble members in a Broadway show would be a little more professional than that, but we’re pretty sure it’s still like high school drama club.
  • IT’S TIME FOR OUR FAVORITE FEATURE! THE ANN HARADA LINE OF THE WEEK. “Let’s reset and run it again.” Bonus points for her facial expression. CONGRATS ANN!
  • Tom says that Ivy is poisoning everyone against him. “Sam won’t make eye contact with me anymore,” he says. “That one’s not Ivy. That’s all you,” Julia tells him, doing our jobs for us.
  • Julia is depressed that Leo is visiting colleges without her. Meanwhile the entire audience at home just jumped for joy knowing we won’t have to see Leo! Plus 10.
  • Tom tells Julia not to follow Leo on Facebook. Or Instagram. EXACTLY! Everyone knows you follow people on Twitter, not Facebook.
  • Michael Riedel runs a column in the Post, revealing the tension between Ivy and Tom over the casting of Leigh Conroy. Plus 50 because dammit those Riedel columns are always right.
  • “What is he, seven years old?” The New York Times arts editor Richard says about Michael Riedel. We can think of worse things to call him, but that works.
  • “She’s not my friend,” Karen says to Jimmy, about Ivy. Once a shade thrower, always a shade thrower.
  • Plus 10 for the Once and Peter and the Starcatcher posters, since they both originated at New York Theatre Workshop.
  • This is the third time we’ve seen a Peter and the Starcatcher poster on SMASH. It’s the new Catch Me If You Can!
  • “I can’t wait to get out of here and get drunk,” Ivy tells Sam. “I just want to go blow of a little steam if you know what I mean. It’s been four months! Something’s gotta give.” Ivy Lynn, talking about drinking and sex? AMEN SISTER.
  • Ivy talks about possibly hooking up with the actor playing JFK. Intercast dating! It is just like high school drama club!
  • Ann Harada gets another good line this week: “Oh right there. The blonde,” she says to the flower delivery guy looking for Ivy. Then she tells Tom they’re not doing anything for her birthday because “everyone’s so tired.”
  • Plus, did you see her gold facial expression she threw Tom when she told him “it’s her birthday?” WE LOVE YOU, ANN!
  • “Ivy loves her birthday,” Tom says. WHO DOESN’T!?!
  • Eileen sent Ivy champagne for her birthday. We’re sure she meant her assistant sent Ivy champagne, but whatever – how do we get on that list!?!
  • Of course Tom has Liza’s phone number in his contacts. Of course.
  • Tom thinks that arranging something between Liza and Ivy will fix things between him and Ivy. “I can’t take back what I did,” he tells Eileen, “but I can remind her how much I love her. And after she forgives me, everything can go back to the way it’s supposed to be.” Normally we’d shit on Tom for being so ridiculous and thinking that you could just buy someone’s forgiveness. BUT IT’S LIZA! IT’D WORK FOR US!
  • We finally understand the purpose of the Diva character. Karen’s character wants to reinvent herself to be like her. So Karen’s character is as lame as Karen herself! Finally – this all makes sense!
  • We’ve been pretty hard on Hit List so far, but this “Original” song (written by Pesek and Paul) song is serving us musical theater pop realness.
  • Also Gaga and Lana Del Ray would never do any of these dance moves. WHICH MAKES THIS NUMBER THAT MUCH BETTER.
  • Our favorite lines from this “Original” number, by far: “And now it’s crazy clothes / a brand new name / a fixed-up nose / and monster fame / Though she might say that she was born this way / she made herself a star.” That pretty much sums up Gaga!
  • Richard says every new piece of Hit List he sees makes him more intrigued. If it’s going to be this much of a trainwreck, then we’re totally there!.
  • Richard wants to write a piece about Derek and Karen’s relationship. “Director and ingenue leave the bright lights of Broadway for off-Broadway arm and arm.” “Too bad that’s not true,” Derek says, claiming that he’s not involved with Karen. “Are you saying the bad boy of Broadway’s reformed?” asks Richard? “I’m saying that’s a lot of alliteration for The New York Times,” Derek responds. Because that’s a Post headline if we ever heard one.

(It took a bit to get to that last one, but it was worth it, huh?)

  • Julia gives a pretty substantial critique of the Hit List book to Scott. “I love the questions the show is asking about identity and fame in the modern age. The songs are outstanding. But right now, the Diva’s not a character. She’s just a symbol. A trigger for Amanda to transform herself. She has no real agency of her own.” Julia is apparently much better at fixing other shows than her own! Plus 50.
  • “You’re both adults. You can be professional and still be public,” Ana tell Karen about the fact that Jimmy wants to keep his relationship with Karen a secret. Lots of couples date and work together in the industry and it never stays secret for long.
  • Jimmy booty-calls Karen by sending her cryptic text messages about being “needed in wardrobe.” Plus 10.
  • Ivy agrees to go to dinner with Tom because he says he had a big surprise for her. Gurl loves a surprise!
  • “And you can have your pick of the hot guys,” Bobby says to Ivy about her party. “Hot straight guys,” she says in response. “Straight guys. Don’t mess that part up.” An important distinction when you work in the theater. (Linda says, from experience).
  • Characters keep saying that they are in tech and we’re not sure if this is supposed to be a meta reference to last season’s infamous “I’m in tech” line, but we hope so. We like it when SMASH has a sense of humor about itself.
  • We’re not sure why reporters would care about this dinner between Liza, Ivy, and Tom, or how that would lead to good press for Bombshell, but we’re too afraid of Agnes to cross her.
  • “I don’t want to do this here,” Karen tells Jimmy while they’re making out in the costume closet. “You want to try the lighting booth?” Jimmy responds. Plus 50.
  •  Ivy spends the bulk of her dinner with Tom checking her phone. “Checking your phone is the international symbol of ‘I’d rather be having a root canal,’” Tom says. Plus 100 because he’s right and that’s so annoying.
  •  Agnes accompanies Michael Riedel to the surprise publicity opportunity. Do you think between takes, he and Daphne gossiped about Rent hookups?
  • Liza says hello to Agnes, but completely ignores Michael Riedel – instead brushing his chest with her hand. OMFG YESSSSSSSS.
  • Ivy decides not to leave the party when Liza tells her to stay. BECAUSE YOU DO ANYTHING LIZA TELLS YOU TO DO.
  • The song, which Tom wrote for Ivy’s birthday, is called “A Love Letter From The Times” and it’s adorable.
  • Also, Liza is sitting for the whole song. She did the same thing for her Liza and Alan show a few weeks back. SHE’S GOT A BAD ANKLE, Y’ALL!
  • “I may have overreacted a teeny bit,” Ivy tells Tom, as they make up. Understatement of the year.
  •  Julia says she may have known that Scott had feelings for her the night they heard John Guare speak at the 92nd Street Y. Plus 15 because that’s a theater nerd’s idea of romance.
  • Kyle has a brilliant idea to fix Hit List while he’s in the other room. We always get the best ideas when we take a break from our work too.
  • Ivy finally arrives at her birthday party. Sadly, she won’t be getting any. “JFK left with High-Kick Heidi 10 minutes ago.” Plus 100 for the intershow nicknames and hookups.
  • Ivy tells Sam to lighten up on Tom. Well that storyline lasted long!
  • Ivy’s birthday cake has Marilyn on it. Plus 50.
  • Jimmy and Karen are in the middle of rehearsing a cheesy scene in which he actually says the line, “What about me? I’m right in front of you,” and Derek interrupts by saying, “That’s enough. This is so sweet I’m getting a cavity. The scene is supposed to prevent Amanda from committing suicide. You do it like that, the entire audience is going to want to jump off the bridge with her.” Again, he’s making our job easy.
  • Kyle makes major changes to the book, which require Karen and Jimmy’s parts to be reduced. Plus 30 because FINALLY Kyle did something useful!
  • Derek doesn’t care about cutting Karen and Jimmy’s part. Hell hath no fury like a lover scorned.
  • Julia and Scott go to get a drink and she tells him that this time, if he feels something, he can tell her. Somebody’s getting lucky!
  • Eileen and Richard decided to take things slowly because they both have baggage. Probably the most sound decision Eileen has made all season.
  • Derek joins Ivy for a birthday drink. And probably, birthday fuck. At this point, we’ll take any action that’s not Karen and Jimmy. Plus 10.

Oh Hell No!

  • We get that Ivy is pissed at Tom, but she wouldn’t be that much of a bitch to him. Especially considering she wasn’t playing Marilyn like, 10 minutes ago. Like, has she been taking temper tantrum lessons from Jimmy Collins? Minus 50.
  • Tom says that tech is supposed to be fun. We have never heard anybody in the industry refer to tech as fun.
  • Minus 10 for alluding to a photo of Frank at a keg party and not showing it to us. We deserve to see Brian d’Arcy James, dammit!
  • Eileen tells Richard that the set designer Sabrina would be perfect for ArtsBeat. We don’t recall ever seeing a story on a set designer in ArtsBeat. It’s more for short news items.
  • Meanwhile, the Bombshell piece already ran in the Times? Minus 20 for not showing us THAT interview between Ivy and Leigh.
  • Jimmy and Karen are still sneaking around. He claims it’s because they’re working together. “It’s not professional,” he reminds Jimmy. Since when has Jimmy ever cared about professionalism? He fights with his director all the time! And last week he tried to steal a watch from the coat of someone at a fundraiser!
  • Minus a whole bunch of points for this Jimmy and Karen make out. Laaaaame.
  • Jimmy makes enough in a week to pay Derek back the $8,000? What the fuck kind of bar does he work at?
  • Minus 10 for the Other Desert Cities poster, since that’s a Lincoln Center show and we all know how Scott feels about that place.
  • Ivy gets flowers sent to her for her birthday, and the entire cast rallies around them, gawking. Guys, it’s just flowers. Calm the fuck down!
  • Plus, you know Ivy sent herself those flowers. Oldest trick in the book!
  • Nice to have some dialogue before this Hit List number. But wasn’t the show supposed to be sung-through?
  • While we like this “Original” song for all it’s ridiculousness, it sounds nothing like the other songs in Hit List. If this show wins the fake Best Original Score Tony in the fake SMASH Tony Awards, we’re going to be pissssssed.
  • “And Karen’s every bit as good as I’ve heard,” Richard says. Really Richard? Really?
  • Ugh. They’ve updated the poster for Hit List and now it looks like the poster from Almost Famous. Minus 500.

Almost Famous vs Hit List

  • Ivy is left at her birthday party, eating cake with Sam. Fags and hags: together until the end.
  • Derek is okay with Julia offering changes to the book. We have to admit – we did not see that coming.
  • “You’re not asking me to be a dramaturg, are you?” Julia asks Scott and Derek. Um, Scott asked you that last week.
  • Ana questions Jimmy’s sketchy behavior to Karen. “Don’t you think this top secret thing is a bit of a red flag?” shes asks. “How much do you really know about Jimmy?” Well let’s see, Ana. You’ve all been working together and hanging out together for months now. SHOULDN’T YOU ALL KNOW THE SAME THINGS ABOUT ONE ANOTHER BY NOW?!
  • Also, as far as we can see, Karen and Ana didn’t know much about one another when they moved in together. So really, Ana, this advice is kinda shit.
  • Karen tells Ana she’s had a bad track record trusting her instinct with guys. “I dated a guy for three years and look what happened,” she says, referring to Dev. What exactly happened, Karen? You treated Dev like shit and then he cheated on you? Are you saying you don’t hold some responsibility in that matter?
  • Tom’s surprise dinner with Liza is apparently at Table 46. The same fictional restaurant where Jimmy and Kyle work. Minus 50 because ugh.
  • More making out between Karen and Jimmy. Minus 50.
  • Karen thinks that Jimmy is hiding their relationship because he’s ashamed of her. “Let’s just go in there and tell everyone that we’re together,” she begs. But Jimmy tells Karen he’s not ready for that, and she storms off. Oh god Karen. STOP COMPLAINING. YOU’RE MAKING OUT WITH JEREMY JORDAN. STFU AND TAKE HIS PANTS OFF.
  • “Is there a night when Eileen is not here?” Tom asks Ivy, at Table 46. Eileen always hangs at Table 46? No. Sardi’s, maybe. But not this place.
  • Julia recommends Kyle use index cards on a bulletin board to work on his book. Because that always works so well for you, Julia!
  • We like Kyle, but he seems unable to make any decision about his material without consulting with Jimmy first. Minus 50 because Andy Mientus deserves better than this.
  • Ivy’s never seen Liza before in person? She’s always around the theater district. Come on now!
  • Ivy gets upset with Tom, thinking the only reason he invited Liza to meet her was to get good publicity for Bombshell. STFU IVY. WHO CARES?!?! YOU JUST MET LIZA!!!
  • Eileen admits to inviting the press to Tom’s “Liza Surprise” because we need all the good press we can get. This then prompts Richard to leave.
  • We get that Eileen is desperate for good press, but she wouldn’t be so stupid to show her cards like that in front of Richard.
  • “Is the Bombshell team combusting again?” Michael Riedel asks Eileen, Tom, and Ivy. “I’m starting to run out of puns for my headlines.” Oh come on Riedel. We doubt that’ll ever happen.
  • Minus 100 for Eileen not throwing a drink in Michael Riedel’s face.
  • As much as we love seeing Liza sing, it’s weird to see her not singing a Kander and Ebb song.
  • Also, we love Liza, but there’s no way she would learn all those lyrics that quickly.
  • Derek tells Karen he has feelings for her, and she rejects him. Derek doesn’t ask girls out, he takes girls out. Minus 10.
  • Ewww Bobby smokes. Minus 50.
  • Ivy leaves her keys at Table 46, so Tom walks them to her place. On the way, he happens to walk by the bar where Ivy is having her birthday party. Maybe it’s on the way to her place, but let’s be honest – Tom would have taken a cab to Ivy’s house.
  • And to come in RIGHT when they’re singing “Happy Birthday.” No.
  • Also, if Tom would have found out about Ivy’s birthday party, it would have been through a Foursquare check-in, Facebook post, or tweet. For a showrunner who came from Gossip Girl – where social media dictated every plot point – it’s kinda crazy that wasn’t at play here.
  • Jimmy reveals that Derek told him to stay away from Karen, and that’s why he wanted to keep their relationship secret. This plot point was so stupid, even we forgot about it.
  • Karen is angry with Derek, and points out that he pulled the same thing he did with Jimmy, with Dev. Derek shouldn’t be controlling her personal life, but when Derek points out that he helped her get everything he ever wanted, we have to agree with him.
  • Kyle makes major changes to the book, making Amanda (Karen) responsible for the Diva’s downfall. And then the whole second act, the Diva plots her revenge and enacts it in the end. Is this a Broadway musical or an episode of Gossip Girl? Minus 100.
  • Can we talk about how the Hit List gang have completely retooled the show to please Richard Francis? We said it last week and we’ll say it again: CRITICS DON’T HOLD THAT MUCH WEIGHT OVER THE CREATIVE PROCESS.

(Unless you are SMASH, in which case, they apparently do).

  • Also, this decision to retool Hit List to make it all about the Diva comes on the whims of one compliment Richard Francis made about the Diva character. THAT’S IT.
  • Ivy performs “Bittersweet Symphony” while we see a montage of characters doing boring things. This device really should have been left behind in season one.
  • Jimmy and Karen decide to go out on a surprise date. Jimmy gives Karen his coat and she finds cocaine in the pocket. Oh come on – he would have snorted that by now.
  • Minus 100 because when they used to have parties on this show, Nick Jonas would show up.
  • And minus another 100 for still not finding a reason for Jesse L. Martin and Daphne Rubin-Vega to interact.

So were you as surprised by “The Surprise Party” as we were? And how many of you suckers actually watched live last night? Let us know in the comments!

For more SMASH goodness, follow NineDaves and Linda on Twitter.

About DAVE Q 90 Articles
NineDaves is a part-time blogger, full-time tweeter, and all-around television-addict who spends way too much time thinking about what his Real Housewives’ opening quote will be. He’s so obsessed with TV, he’s basically like that kid from Willy Wonka. Only gayer.