The SMASH Reality Index (S2, EP12)

Megan Hilty

Megan Hilty

By NineDaves and Linda Buchwald

We may base a big part of our Reality Index on SMASH’s major missteps. But believe it or not, we much prefer the show to make the right choices. Which is why when an episode like tonight’s “Opening Night” comes along, we actually feel pretty damn good. Because there were far more “Totally True” moments than “Oh Hell No!” errors. And when there’s an episode with Leo in it, and we’re not even really mad about it, you know SMASH is doing something right.

This episode had everything that makes SMASH actually good when it’s good: memorable musical numbers, legitimate conflicts, and actual realistic glimpses at the behind the scenes of theater. Sure, there were still some ridiculous moments, but overall, we couldn’t be happier with how this episode played out. Read on to see why.

Totally True

  • Bernadette Peters is back! And still wearing her Gypsy wig and costume! Plus 50.
  • “For the first time I actually feel kind of confident,” Ivy says, the night before opening. It’s about time Ivy! We’ve always believed in you!
  • Ivy goes into a self-imposed media blackout until opening. Plus 10 because even though we doubt she’ll make it, if there ever was a time to stop paying attention to message boards, it’s now.
  • Julia is brainstorming ideas for her next show with Tom, and suggests musical adaptations of Gulliver’s Travels and Lord of the Flies, a musical built around the poetry of Ezra Pound, and “something Julie Taymor-y with puppets” for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Plus 100 because all of these ideas are terrible, and so is Julia.
  • Agnes is calling her sources, trying to get a heads up on the Times review. Plus 10 because that’s what any good publicist would be doing.
  • Even though Eileen is upset about the Times article comparing Bombshell to Hit List, Agnes is not. “Bombshell got mentioned just as much as Hit List did,” she says. “That’s a plus in my book.” Duh!
  • “The last thing we need is a vindictive journalist,” Agnes tells Eileen. Maybe she worked on The Addams Family musical before this?
  • Scott informs the Hit List cast that the show is sold out for the rest of the run. While an off-Broadway house should have a few extensions built into their schedule, it’s pretty likely Hit List would sell out quickly after the Times piece in such a small house.
  • Plus 100 because the Bombshell opening is at 7pm. Broadway openings are always earlier than 8pm.
  • Karen doesn’t want to go to the Bombshell opening. “It’s like going to your ex’s wedding,” she tells Jimmy. “It’s not that you want to get back together, but you don’t exactly want to see them marry someone else either.” Finally – the first thing Karen Cartwright has said that’s made sense all season. Plus 10.
  • Also in that conversation with Jimmy, we learn that Karen still “barely talking” to Ana or Derek. We knock SMASH a lot here, but we gotta hand it to them for not pretending like the conflicts in last week’s episode would resolve themselves that quickly.
  • “Tomorrow night, you got me in your corner,” Jimmy tells Karen. “If you still want me.” WE’LL TAKE YOU IF SHE DOESN’T WANT YOU, JIMMY.
  • Ivy is standing across the street from the “Lilly Hayes” Theater, staring at the Bombshell marquee. We like these little moments when SMASH reminds us that actors remind themselves of the dream even when they’re living it.
  • How do we get one of those Bombshell Playbills? We’re totally serious.
  • Tom has drinks with producer Chip Preston (Stephen Bogardus), who says he might have to cancel his City of Angels revival last season because he director jumped ship. Plus 100 because even SMASH knows City of Angels will never come back to Broadway! But that doesn’t stop us from wanting it to happen.
  • Also, HEEEEY STEPHEN BOGARDUS! LOOKIN’ GOOD TOO! How’s that 1995 Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Love! Valor! Compassion! treatin’ you?
  • Ivy has broken down and is now reading the All That Chat message boards. And they’re just as ridiculous as they would be IRL. “Half the grace of her predecessor.” “A career chorus girl.” “Can she even dance?” Plus 20.
  • Derek says he’s not going to compare his directing to Tom’s, and Ivy totally calls him on it. It’s like she’s doing our jobs for us!
  • Ivy won’t sleep with Derek on the morning of opening night because she doesn’t want to wear herself out. Plus 10.
  • Leo says he’s excited about Bombshell because Ivy gets naked. You see Eileen? It worked!
  • Julia says she’s going to take Leo to see Hit List because “it’s more up your alley.” Kids and their rock musicals…
  • Julia wants to turn The Great Gatsby into a musical. “The big society party scenes, the unrequited love story, the narrator – it’s perfect.” Apparently she and Tom tried to do it a bunch of times but the rights were never available. While we love The Great Gatsby, and turning it into a musical would probably be terrible, dammit if we wouldn’t be into seeing SMASH try that in another season. Too bad SMASH will never get one.
  • Ana tries to tell Karen about Jimmy’s past, and Karen’s a total bitch about it. “Can we talk?” asks Ana. “Oh, we’re doing that again?” responds Karen, in her cuntiest tone. Roommate conflicts are fun! Also, this is why we both live alone.
  • Karen decides to go to the Bombshell opening after all. Duh. We know we are always hard on her, but it must be said that she looks really nice here.
  • Tom tells Julia that announcing their next musical on opening night is a jinx. “We announced our next project at Heaven on Earth’s opening,” he reminds here. “Our Vegas musical? And that didn’t pan out.” That’s a pretty good example to give her, Tom. We would have also gone with, “STFU JULIA! WE’RE OPENING THIS SHOW! CHILLAX!”
  • Eileen tells Agnes that she broke up with Richard, and Agnes asks Eileen if she’s out of her tiny mind. Plus 50.
  • Leigh and Ivy have a sweet moment backstage before the curtain rises and fuck if we aren’t moved by it. “All it takes to make it in this business is one role if it’s right for you,” Leigh tells Ivy. “You fought like hell and you got that role. You are Marilyn Monroe on Broadway. Now get out there and show everyone what all those years in the chorus has taught you.” AWWWWWWW!!
  • And Bernadette is wearing another old Gypsy wig and costume. Plus 50.
  • Also, Bombshell has an overture. Plus 100 because we miss these!
  • Ivy sings ‘Don’t Forget Me” and it’s a million times better than when Karen sang it in season one. That’s why she’s Marilyn, people!
  • Karen is having heart palpitations during Ivy’s performance because it’s fucking brilliant and perfect and she’d never be that good and AHHHH!
  • The house gives Ivy a standing ovation. Because DUH!
  • Rosie O’Donnell tells Julia Bombshell’s her best work ever. We’re guessing she saw Three on a Match and Heaven on Earth too.
  • Rosie blabs to Julia that “Tom’s a great director. I cannot wait to see what he’s going to do with City of Angels. Eileen told me that’s his next project!” Plus 50 because Rosie is a great gossip.
  • Derek is screaming “Bravo” and Eileen is crying in the back of the house. AWWWWWWWW x2!
  • “I’m not saying it’s better than my version,” Derek tells Scott of Bombshell. “But it’s a pretty good shot.” Of course it’s not as good as your version, Derek, you angry genius.
  • Agnes is waiting for the reviews to come in with her PR team. “As soon as these reviews are in I want to start pulling potential quotes for the campaign.” she says, gesturing to a Bombshell poster with “Quote #1, Quote #2, and Quote #3” on there. BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GO LIVE WITHOUT THOSE QUOTES, RIGHT MATILDA?
  • Variety is the first review in, and calls Bombshell the “finest musical of the season.” Sounds like a boring Variety quote to us!
  • The Times review isn’t in yet. “They’re always last,” says one of Agnes’s PR assistants. Plus 10!
  • Julia and Tom have a fight, straight out of Merrily We Roll Along. “This isn’t about you,” Tom says. “I just want to make a name for myself as a director. I love writing with you. I look forward to doing it again. But right now what I care about is directing, and that is it.” And then Julia sings “Franklin Shepard, Inc.” Oh wait, no. Sorry that last part just happened in our heads.
  • The ladies room has a makeup counter with a ‘Marilyn Yourself’ sign. Cute! We’re guessing there were also theme drinks at this party.
  • Ivy says the anticipation for the Times review is killing her. “So are my shoes,” she adds. Plus 10.
  • Ivy and Karen find one another in the bathroom at the opening night party, and have a pretty cute scene that – dare we say it – makes us actually like Karen Cartwright! “I can’t stop comparing myself to you,” Ivy tells Karen. “All of those reviewers loved you in Boston.” “They’re going to love you too,” counters Karen. “Ivy, no one could have been better than you tonight. Not me. Not anyone. Not even Marilyn Monroe herself. I was so jealous of you tonight, I almost left at intermission.” It’s nice to see Karen admitting that she’s not the best. Plus 100.
  • Ivy reminds Karen that it took her eight Broadway shows to get to Bombshell, calling her ‘the magical Karen Cartwright.’ “You do some tiny show at the Fringe festival and suddenly it’s the can’t miss event of the season!” Plus 50 because again, Ivy’s basically writing the Index for us.
  • Ivy says Karen will get to Broadway, “just not this season.” Ha.
  • Kyle has a new hairdo and it’s serving us Jason Priestley realness. Plus 50 because we love us some Brandon Walsh.
  • Eileen drops a bucket of ice on Jimmy and Adam to break up their fight. “Now get out!” she screams. Plus 100 because we’re glad to finally see Eileen throwing liquid at people again, even if it’s frozen.

Anjelica Huston

  • The New York Times review is in and it praises Julia’s book. “Julia Houston has achieved the impossible. She’s less bookwriter here than playwright – and a great playwright at that.” Tom also get’s praise – but for his score. “Tom Levitt’s score is a triumphant combination of soulful melodies and foot tapping show stoppers.” His direction on the other hand is called “overblown” and “competing with Julia’s complex masterpiece.” “Houston and Levitt, whose synchronicity previously gave the impression they might be conjoined twins, seem to no longer share a heart. Even in it’s best moments, many though there are, it is clear this Bombshell is marching to two different beats.” Yeah, even without ever having seen Bombshell in its entirety, we know that review is pretty right on. Plus 20.
  • “Come on, you know Ben Brantley,” says Julia about The New York Times critic. “If you’re not in US Weekly, he’s got it out for you.” Plus 50 because judging by the raves he’s thrown towards Scarlett Johansson, he does seem to have a thing for celebs.
  • Tom says that even though every critic loved Bombshell, Brantley’s lukewarm review matters most. We hate to agree here as critics ourselves, but the Times does seem to carry more weight than others.
  • Ivy gives a speech at the opening party, thanking Julia and Eileen. She also makes a little speech for Tom: “An actor is nothing without a great director. Every move I make out on that stage, I owe in his faith in me, to his humor, and to his incredible talent. He’s the one who gave me this chance. So will everyone please raise their glasses and join me in this toast to Tom Levitt.” AWWWWWWW x3!
  • Ivy also thanks Karen Cartwright in her speech. “I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.” Because she quit, right? Very classy of her. Plus 10.
  • Karen and Ivy sing “That’s Life.” And fuck, it’s extraordinary. We really think we wouldn’t hate Karen that much if she and Ivy were buddies from the start.
  • Also, plus 50 for having Marc Shaiman at the piano!
  • Julia and Scott take a limo back home together. Without Leo! Plus 20 because we hope he’s walking home.
  • Leigh says goodnight to Ivy. “You made me so proud tonight,” she tells Ivy. “I’m so glad I get to work with you everyday.” AWWWWWWWWW x4!
  • Ivy decides not to go home with Derek, after learning that he asked Karen out a few weeks ago. She then walks away from him with a smile on her face. Which we love, because Ivy’s so much better than that!
  • “The last opening night I went to, they didn’t even make it to the end of the second act,” Kyle tells Tom, referencing Liaisons. Plus 10 because we had forgotten about that.
  • Kyle tells Tom Bombshell is the best Broadway musical he has ever seen. We love a good fanboy and their selective memories.
  • Seriously SMASH, you better give us a Christian Borle / Andy Mientus shirtless makeout session next week, or else!
  • Didn’t we say Tom and Kyle would be cute together? Are the writers of SMASH reading the Reality Index? If so, we still want Tom and Derek to hook up before the show gets canceled!
  • Daisy Parker (Mara Davi) apologizes to Derek for sexual harassment allegations all those weeks back, saying she only joined the suit to get back out in the business. It didn’t. But she still goes home with him after seeing Bombshell. We get it. We’re talent sluts too.
  • Also, HEY MARA DAVI! Loved you in Death Takes a Holiday with Julian Ovenden (JFK)!
  • Eileen says that Bombshell is going to sweep the Tonys. DAMMIT WE HOPE SO!
  • Even though she wasn’t in it this week, we love her too much not to have THE ANN HARADA LINE OF THE WEEK! “Sorry I missed the Bombshell opening! I was stealing Cinderella over at the Broadway Theatre. Later losers!” CONGRATULATIONS ANN!

Oh Hell No!

  • Eileen reminds Agnes that Richard is an editor, not a critic. Which reminds us again how dumb the Hit List team is for adapting their show to meet his likes. And how it still makes no sense for him to have written such a biased and opinionated article about Hit List and Bombshell. It’s like the Times already reviewed Bombshell before opening.
  • Agnes tells Eileen to text Richard “and say you can’t wait to see him and you’re not wearing any underwear.” Minus 20 because Eileen is far too old for sexting.
  • Eileen Rand invited the whole Hit List cast to the Bombshell opening? We get that she might be trying to be nice to Derek and Karen – and maybe even Scott after Julia’s involvement with Hit List. But for someone who was so upset about that Times article, we’re pretty sure Eileen would never extend the olive branch like that. Minus 50 because clearly this is just a device to have all the action happening in one place. Josh Safran, your Gossip Girl roots are showing again.
  • As Ivy Lynn stares at the Bombshell marquee after the show, she overhears an older couple coming out of the restaurant across the street, complaining about her role in Bombshell. “I liked it, but I didn’t love it,” the man complains. “You never love anything,” his wife says. “The music was great.” “It’s not the music,” he responds. “It’s her. Did you read the Playbill? Been knocking around the ensemble for years.” So many things are wrong with this scenario. The first being that these people would have clearly gone to dinner before the show. The second being that no one would have complained about a chorus girl in a leading role who was that good. The third being that they called “TAXI” for a cab home. And the fourth being that Donna McKechnie would have supported a chorus girl getting her big break, dammit!
  • Adam is hanging outside the Hit List stage door, and tells Ana that he’s Jimmy’s brother. He also mentions that Jimmy wouldn’t want to see him. THEN WHY ARE YOU HANGING AT THE HIT LIST STAGE DOOR, BUDDY?!
  • Tom says that whomever directs City of Angels has to nail the noir. “It’s doesn’t have to be purely comic, it can be dark and tragic too.” Um, Dave saw City of Angels back in 1991 and he doesn’t remember it ever being purely comic. Minus 10 because Tom’s suggestion seems pretty fucking obvious here. But we suppose this is keeping in line with the fact that Tom is a terrible director.
  • Chip asks Tom to direct the City of Angels revival. They may be old friends, but we don’t think he would have offered him that gig without reading the reviews of Bombshell first.
  • We hated the old credits, but the new, shorter credits are worse. Minus 20.
  • Ivy is reading message boards to prepare herself for what critics will say about her, which makes no sense because often shows are torn apart on message boards, only to be loved by critics and vice versa.
  • The way people are talking about Jimmy’s past it makes it sound like he killed someone. Who is he, Serena van der Woodsen?
  • Julia is finally moving out of Tom’s place. “I can’t sleep on the couch forever!” Um… didn’t Tom have to drag her out of bed a few episodes back? We’re pretty sure she was staying in a guest room.
  • Tom, Julia, and Leo take a limo to the Bombshell opening. What is this, prom? Minus 30.
  • On the way to the Bombshell opening, Julia tells Tom about Gatsby.“ Our lawyer is working on getting us the rights as we speak,” she says. “It’s the only project for us – I already told Agnes we’d make the announcement at the party.” We know things need to move fast, but calm the fuck down Julia. Also, can we talk about how The Great Gatsby will probably never work as a musical? It’s been attempted before.
  • There’s no red carpet at the Bombshell opening. And photographers are snapping pictures at the limo as it pulls up. Minus 50 because while some Broadway shows have openings without a major press area, Bombshell surely wouldn’t.
  • Eileen dumps Richard in the lobby before opening. Did she not listen to anything Agnes said? Why would she bring him all the way to dump him like that? Minus 10.
  • How can Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman exist as themselves in a world where Tom and Julia write their music? We love seeing them, but it does make our head hurt a little.
  • Jimmy finally tells Karen the truth about him. “My dad beat the crap out of me and my mom,” he says. “After she died, me and Adam were on the streets. I dealt drugs. I used them. I watched people OD and I didn’t call 911. When you’re living life like that, you do a lot of things that you are not proud of. Adam got me into that life. So when I tell you that Adam is nobody to me, it’s because he is nobody to me.” Wait, THAT’S THE BIG SECRET OF JIMMY’S PAST? That’s the thing Kyle said might “push Karen away for good?” Seriously? That really doesn’t seem like that big a deal.
  • Jimmy tells Karen, “I wasn’t a good person but ever since I met you, that’s all I want to be.” BAAARF.
  • Agnes is worried that there will be consequences for Eileen breaking up with Richard. The Times review is written and Richard is a professional. What’s he going to do, call up Ben Brantley and have him change his review? Of course not.
  • Karen is sitting next to Derek at Bombshell opening. If she was having such problems with Derek, wouldn’t she have found another seat?
  • Tom runs up onstage from the audience to take his bow during the Bombshell curtain call. Minus 10 because he would have already been backstage.
  • Also, Julia would have gone with him.
  • And where are the flowers? THERE WOULD BE FLOWERS!
  • There’d also be more celebrities at the opening. No disrespect to Rosie or anything, but she wouldn’t be the only one.
  • And Rosie would have waited until the party to talk to Julia about Tom doing City of Angels.
  • Oh, it looks like according to this press shot, Matthew Broderick was supposed to be in this episode. Why was he cut?

Matthew Broderick, Debra Messing and Christian Borle

  • While we’re talking about who’s missing from this opening, where’s Linda the stage manager? And Jerry? And Katie, Eileen’s daughter. And Sam? And Veronica Moore? And Lyle West, who invested in the show? They should all be here.
  • “It’s the best show on Broadway… for now,” Derek says to Scott, revealing his desire to move Hit List to Broadway. “I wonder if that will happen?” says no one watching at home.
  • Ana invited Jimmy’s brother to the opening party? Minus 20 because she would know better.
  • Jimmy and Adam get into a fist fight at the Bombshell party. They may be violent goons, but even they would have had the sense to take it outside.
  • Wait, this party is at The Carter Hotel? Everyone knows that place is a total shithole. Minus 200.
  • Karen breaks up with Jimmy, saying that he “scares her.” OMFG GURL! GO BACK TO IOWA!
  • When Jimmy is sitting outside all sad, did anyone else expect his brother to come up with him and say, “Well well well. What have we here? It’s going to be a happy new year,” and hand him some drugs? Just us? OK.
  • Scott agrees to take Hit List to Broadway, asking Derek of Ivy and Karen, “I wonder which one the Tony voters will prefer?” Yes, SMASH. We know that’s where you’re going with this whole thing. We’ve been saying it all season. You don’t need to spell it out for us.
  • After the party, Julia tells Scott, “Another opening, another blow.” You just got a rave in the Times, gurl!
  • Scott tells Julia to do Gatsby as a play in the fall. At his theater. Sorry – but an artistic director of a theater wouldn’t give a slot to a new play without reading it first. No matter how much he wanted to get with the author.
  • Also, Scott would know better than to do The Great Gatsby as a play so soon after Gatz.
  • We love that Kyle and Tom are getting together, but what about Kyle’s boyfriend? Does monogamy mean nothing to these people?
  • Agnes says Eileen needs to reduce her advertising budget. “You don’t want to get any deeper until you know what word of mouth is.” We understand this concern, but opening night doesn’t seem the time to have this discussion.
  • Eileen doubles her advertising budget because she wants Bombshell to run longer than The Lion King and we laugh out loud. Gurl. You know you don’t have Disney money, right?
  • Agnes says that Bombshell won’t be a long-running hit without the support of The New York Times. Apparently she didn’t read the opening night reviews of Wicked.
  • The opening night party would have been the perfect place to get Daphne Rubin-Vega and Jesse L. Martin on screen together. Minus 100 for not making that happen, SMASH.
  • Also, this whole thing with not showing previews to next week’s episode has to stop, NBC. It’s annoying.

Alright Index readers – how’d “Opening Night” play out for you? Do you agree it was as good as we thought it was?

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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.