The SMASH Reality Index (S2, EP3)



By NineDaves and Linda Buchwald

There’s this very famous episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent that’s become a cult favorite of theater fans everywhere. The plot centers around the murder of a Broadway actor, and everyone’s a suspect. The director. The understudy. The composer. The producer. You get the picture. In the end, it turns out it’s the dramaturg who did it. The sneaky, meddling, researcher was apparently trying to get a payout for the lead actor’s death. For shame!

So when SMASH decided to call this week’s episode “The Dramaturg,” we were immediately convinced bad things were afoot. Surprisingly though, the dramaturg in this case only led to positive changes for our show within a show. Peter Gilman (played by the delicious Daniel Sunjata) tore through Julia (Debra Messing) and her pathetic Bombshell book. And wouldn’t you know it – everything he said was “Totally True.”

Peter basically claimed that Bombshell was all song, no book – something we’ve been bitching about since the beginning. (Seriously, did the guy read The SMASH Reality Index or what?) The same thing seemed destined to happen with Hit List – the new show within a show by newcomers Jimmy Collins (Jeremy Jordan) and Kyle Bishop (Andy Mientus). We were worried we may never get to see a competent book writer portrayed on SMASH. Lucky for us, by the episode’s end, not only did we get to see a skeleton of the Hit List plot, but it appears Peter has finally lit a spark under Julia’s lazy ass. Once again, the dramaturg did it – but this time, that’s actually a good thing.

Here’s how the rest of the episode broke down, Reality Index-wise.

Totally True

  • We can’t tell what’s more ’90s about Karen Cartwright’s “Good for You” fantasy. The crowd-surfing? The cutoff shirt? The red chunky hair extensions? Plus 100 because that’s what a girl from Iowa would imagine Rock ‘n’ Roll looks like.
  • Plus 5 for this being a Drew Gasparini song though!
  • Eileen wants a “fresh eye” on Bombshell’s book, and suggests the aid of a dramaturg. “It’s a very common practice these days,” she tells Julia and Tom. “Most of the big shows use one to retool the book.” That’s totally true, Eileen. Pulling a “show doctor” in before Broadway is a common tool used by many a show. <cough cough Leap of Faith cough cough Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark cough cough>
  • Julia thinks she can address the problems with the book by simply reordering the scenes. That’s soooo Julia. (Also, can you guys imagine how bad that book to Heaven on Earth is? Yeek.)
  • Ivy Lynn does her best Kristen Chenoweth impression during her audition for the ensemble of Liasons.
  • “Every actress in town wants to do Cécile,” says Bernie. We’re sure not every actress, but if Bernie Telsey says it, we’ll believe it!
  • Jennifer Hudson Veronica Moore sings the fuck out of “Home.” And looks flawless doing it. “The Wiz has never sounded better,” says Derek, in the understatement of a lifetime.
  • “This should feel now, not dated,” says Derek about The Wiz. ‘Cause only Derek Wills would think that what we all really want to see is a modern-day Wiz.
  • Derek Wills tells Veronica, “Producers rarely have vision, that’s why they need [directors] to show it to them.” That arrogant fuck! We missed you so!
  • Julia looks up the dramaturg on IBDB. Plus 50, but next time try Playbill Vault.
  • “A man who makes his living feeding off of the work of other writers without creating anything of his own is not a shepherd,” says Julia, of a dramaturg. “He’s a parasite.” Actually, he’s a few tweeters that we won’t call out by name.
  • Daniel Sunjata plays Peter Gilman, the professional dramaturg of our dreams. Plus 100 for HUBBA HUBBA.
  • There were Houston/Levitt nights at Joe’s Pub. Two of them. Plus 20.
  • Peter tells Tom and Julia that one of their shows didn’t get “a fair shake in The Times.” Even dramaturgs know what writers want to hear.
  • After Peter leaves, Tom tells Julia “he seems pretty creditable.” We’re pretty sure that’s code for cute.
  • Julia hates coffee. She would.
  • Peter tells Julia that “Bombshell is not a Broadway musical. It’s a biopic. There’s no character development outside of the songs, which are admittedly the best part.” He then later refers to it as “two-dimensional.” From what we’ve seen so far, this is totally accurate (though that didn’t stop Chaplin or Scandalous from coming to Broadway).
  • Julia thinks her book was good because “the audience cried when Marilyn died” and “we had standing ovations every night!” She would use that as a barometer for success, but have you been to Broadway lately? It’s filled with sub-par shows where people cry at trite emotional moments and give standing ovations at curtain call, no matter how bad the crap they just sat through was. Believe us – we both saw Baby It’s You.
  • Can every episode of SMASH include Ivy Lynn singing “They Just Keep Moving the Line?” Bonus points if it happens by cutting away from Karen singing!
  • Ivy Lynn claims that she’s only seen the Dangerous Liaisons movie. She would say this even if she’s obviously only seen Cruel Intentions.
  • Tom “wanted to be reminded of his initial instincts before jumping back into [Bombshell],” so he watches videos of Ivy Lynn as Marilyn. That’s what we do before each episode of SMASH!
  • Ivy Lynn says that “real names like Jennifer Damiano and Jessie Mueller” are auditioning for Cécile. The theater geeks in us are excited to hear those folks referred to as “real names,” but the TV-viewer/reality-liver in us knows that they aren’t.
  • Eileen Rand claims she’s “juggling chainsaws here,” which is the best visual we’ve had all season.
  • Julia says she’s pretty sure Peter doesn’t even want to call the show Bombshell. Great, because that’s a terrible title.
  • Peter apparently lied to Julia about seeing Bombshell in Boston. He saw it 4 times! We’d probably lie about that too.
  • “No one has invested more in this show than I have,” Eileen tells a whiny Julia. “And if you don’t want to do the work, I will find somebody who will.” Plus 100 because YOU DON’T FUCK WITH THE MONEY.
  • Peter and Julia get into a heated discussion re: the book. Peter claims that Julia took the sex out of “the greatest sex symbol in history” by focusing on her domestic relationship with Joe DiMaggio. “Maybe you focused on Joe because you were sleeping the actor who played him,” Peter reminds Julia. “Where was the steam on the window?” he asks. “The slow strip tease? The heat?” PLUS 500 BECAUSE THIS SCENE IS EVERYTHING AND GURL KNOWS HOW TO REEEEAAAD A BITCH.
  • In the midst of the aforementioned argument, Julia claims, “Women buy the majority of tickets on Broadway.” Goddammit she’s right – but gay men are a close second!
  • “Ivy has a great eye,” Derek tells Karen while inviting Ivy to observe rehearsal. “She can tell us where we’ve going wrong.” Um… we’re pretty sure casting Karen in the first place is what Ivy/everyone would say.
  • Plus 10,000 for Ivy Lynn singing Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own.” Yes, it was a dream sequence, but at least we didn’t have to hear Karen sing “I Just Keep Moving the Line.” And it’s IVY LYNN! SINGING ROBYN! OMFG!
  • Jimmy has blood on his lip because he’s tough and also because Jeremy Jordan misses playing Clyde.
  • “I don’t blame you for yawning,” Ivy tells Tom, when rehearsing for her Cécile audition. “I’m so boring. And my accent is horrible.” That didn’t stop Lilla Crawford from getting Annie!
  • It’s time for a new feature we like to call, “THE ANN HARADA LINE OF THE WEEK!” “Tom? 5 minutes…” CONGRATULATIONS ANN!
  • Karen Cartwright recorded the Kyle Bishop and Jimmy Collins demo for free. Because obviously she wouldn’t know to charge for that sort of work.
  • Julia writes a new number about the first time JFK and Marilyn have sex, and then claims it was her idea even though Peter clearly pushed her into doing that. Plus 20 because Julia probably thinks it was her idea to stop wearing scarves too.
  • Ivy tells Tom he’d be a great director. “You understand style and intention and you know how to get the best out of people without torturing them,” she says. First of all, Plus 10 on that shade you just threw to Derek. Second of all, Plus 20 because dammit we agree (and we’re pretty sure that’s the plan for his character).
  • Jimmy refers to his musical as “a bunch of crap I just scribbled down when I was wasted.“ MAN HE’S BAD ASS.
  • Can the entire series be Peter and Julia arguing? These fights actually have something SMASH has been struggling to find the entire time: substance.
  • The plot of Hit List, Jimmy and Kyle’s musical, is basically foreshadowing what Jimmy’s relationship with Karen Cartwright is going to be, right? Are we the only ones who think this sounds kind of bad?
  • “There’s all these other characters too,” supporting player Kyle says after leading actor Jimmy describes the plot of Hit List. #Awwwwww

Oh Hell No!

  • This week’s episode opens with another dream sequence. Minus 10 because those were supposed to be gone with season 1.
  • Derek won’t consider looking into the new musical without reading the book first. Um, that didn’t stop him with Bombshell.
  • Derek also claims he doesn’t want to get involved in this new musical because “new musicals take years to develop.” Um, we’re pretty sure Bombshell took 15 episodes to develop last season.
  • As much as we’ll praise Eileen for thinking about bringing in a dramaturg to help with the book, she really should have involved a dramaturg from the beginning, as he/she could have helped with costumes, sets – hell, maybe even that terrible artwork.
  • Minus 100 for not giving us a full-fledged Jennifer Hudson Veronica Moore performance of “Home.” There better be an mp3, dammit.
  • In order to get his directing job back, Derek agrees to stage a number for The Wiz for producers, acting once again like so above auditioning despite us knowing he did the same thing with Bombshell in the SMASH pilot.
  • Julia fears that if people hear Bombshell has a dramaturg, they will think the show is in trouble. That’s probably true, but we’re pretty sure everyone already thinks the show is in trouble based on the fact that they still don’t have a theater or sound financing.
  • We were remiss last episode to not mention the RIDICULOUS new opening credit sequence. WTF IS THAT!?! The only good thing is that we at least get Anjelica Huston throwing a drink each week, but even that is wearing thin.
  • They may be out there, but we doubt there’s any dramaturg out there who has made enough money from script doctoring to afford an apartment like that.
  • Peter thinks the audience reacted so positively to Bombshell because “it was Boston.” Funny, but again – even New Yorkers have bad taste when it comes to Broadway.
  • JIMMY COLLINS SMOKES?!? We get that he’s supposed to be a bad boy, but MINUS EVERYTHING. #GROSS
  • Minus 200 for making us Google this Liasons cast recording that Ivy claims is out of print, only to find out the show Tom claims is a “lost gem” that “Madeline Kahn got nominated for featured” for is a totally made up show. DAMMIT WE WANTED THIS TO BE REAL.
  • During rehearsal, Karen snaps at Derek, telling him “I understand the song, thanks,” as if she were a snotty teenager. Later, she yells, “I don’t understand what you want. I’m not sure you do either!” Look, we get that Karen Cartwright is supposed to have an ego now, and supposed to feel like she’s hot shit, but no one – especially an actor who struggled for so many years for her big break – would be acting this obnoxious this early on.
  • Also, are you going to take that shit from Karen Cartwright, Derek Wills?
  • While we’re squashing plot points, enough with the Ivy pining after Derek/Marilyn! It’s getting as tired as we are writing these recaps at 2 in the morning!
  • Ivy says Cécile is Marilyn, and then Tom points out that Cécile/Marilyn is really Ivy, deep down. WE GET IT SMASH. WE GOT IT LAST SEASON WITH IVY’S PILL ADDICTION TOO! YOU DON’T NEED TO KEEP SPELLING IT OUT!
  • “Our Little Secret” was a great song that clearly addressed a problem that Bombshell was lacking. But can we all agree that Karen Cartwright has the sex appeal of a toothbrush?
  • Jimmy comes into the Bombshell rehearsal. Surly Linda the stage manager would have stopped him!
  • Eileen claims that “Our Little Secret” has “glamour, power, sex,” therefore encompassing “the new Broadway.” Right Eileen. Just like Once. And The Book of Mormon. And Memphis. And Billy Elliot
  • Ivy Lynn was cast as Cécile. OVER JESSIE MUELLER?
  • Also, she’d never know she got that job so fast.
  • How did Karen and Jimmy get from the rehearsal studio in Times Square to the Flatiron building so fast?
  • Jimmy is acting like a little shit, expecting everyone to drop everything and produce his musical. We’re pretty sure the dude who bartends and lives in Greenpoint and plays his songs on the bar’s piano when no one is around would have a little patience.
  • Jennifer Hudson Veronica Moore drops out of The Wiz to do a one-night-only show.  “If I’m going to grow, I got to take this chance.” Wouldn’t a limited engagement be a better chance? This seems like a stupid idea.
  • Also, Jennifer Hudson Veronica Moore’s decision to drop out of The Wiz was inspired by what she saw during “Our Little Secret.” Really? It wasn’t that inspiring. Imagine what she would have done if she saw Ivy Lynn perform “Let’s Be Bad”!
  • Derek and Karen are outside the rehearsal studio again – which is apparently in the Flatiron building now. THIS MAKES NO SENSE, YOU GUYS. THOSE ARE PUBLISHING OFFICES!
  • Sorry, but Derek Wills would never go to Greenpoint.
  • Derek says Hit List is “A Star is Born plus Hamlet with a bit of Romeo and Juliet.” Kyle adds, “Moulin Rouge, Gaga, and JT LeRoy.” WHY IS NO ONE SAYING AMERICAN IDIOT?
  • Minus 200 because Jeremy Jordan didn’t sing a lick during this episode.

So how’d we do this time around? Any glaring omissions? Comment away!

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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.