Happy Throwback Thursday! SMASH Don’t Give a Shit! is back!
Today marks the one year anniversary of when I published the recap of S2E4, J HUD’s final appearance on SMASH. Wow. I was so young. So foolish. I had no idea how grueling recapping a TV show for no money would be. Or how long it would take. Or that after four months, SMASH would have seduced me into a Beauty & the Beast-esque Stockholm Syndrome where I was really sad to see it go. Let’s ignore the fact that by the end of it, we were more like an end-of-run Beauty & the Beast Stockholm, where the company is sorta going through the motions but you’re forced to screlt “A Change in Me” at like ten o’clock after not really being warm for an hour, because that’s what Ashley Brown did in the On the Record tour (<–Told yah it was #TBT). Bottom line, I loved SMASH. Why? Sing along: Because it didn’t give a shit!
According to the Annoying Actor Friend by-laws, I am contractually obligated to love to hate SMASH and literally hate GLEE. I have revived this blog series to compare and contrast how I think both shows represented Broadway. Now that the McKinnley High ass-hats are packing up and invading our city, I guess it is my responsibility to acknowledge it. Before we begin, here are some thoughts to keep in mind:
- This recap analyzes GLEE S5E9 “Frenemies.”
- I will only be doing a SMASH vs. GLEE smack-down once. This is it.
- I have not watched GLEE since its first season.
- I have only ever seen maybe four episodes of GLEE.
- I don’t intend to do any research about GLEE in order to present an educated recap.
- I know GLEE is a heightened fantasy, but I’m not going to treat it that way.
- I deserve extra credit for taking this risk because GLEEKS scare the shit out of me.
If SMASH didn’t give a shit about being realistic to Broadway, GLEE took that shit and used it to finger-paint Shubert Alley. Let’s begin.
The Top 10 Times SMASH Gave More of a Shit Than GLEE and Other Things That Annoyed Me About “Frenemies.”
1.) Survival Jobs: Rachel Berry and Not Ana Vargas work at what appears to be Ellen’s Stardust Diner. If they sing at this restaurant, I’m glad they didn’t this episode because people looked like they were trying to eat. Not Ana Vargas complains about being in New York City for three months and only booking a national commercial. Like a true friend, Rachel Berry tries to console her while expertly tossing in tidbits about starring on Broadway in Funny Girl. I’ll bet Lauren Ambrose wants to shoot herself. I have no fucking clue why Rachel Berry is working at a diner while rehearsing for the lead in a Broadway show. I’m pretty certain Karen Cartwright quit her restaurant job when she was the understudy in the two week workshop of Marilyn: the Musical. Why? Because Karen Cartwright gives a shit about her craft. Holy shit I just said that. (SMASH: +1. GLEE: +0.)
2.) #AuthorityFail: Where the fuck is the authority on this show? No managers, no casting directors, no stage management, no agents. Rachel Berry pretty much ran an entire fucking New York Magazine shoot. The only person who looked in charge of anything this episode was Peter Facinelli, and I’ll bet even he has called his Can’t Hardly Wait co-star and been like, “Lauren. This Funny Girl shit is ridiculous.” While we’re on the subject of Facinelli, anytime there has been a commanding older male presence on GLEE (Morrison, Stamos, Bomer), they sorta look like they are from a forty-eight year old gay man’s fantasy of a speed dating lineup. I mean, who is in charge of this show?
Anyway, Telsey wasn’t present at the Fanny Brice understudy auditions, and some girl who can’t sing got an appointment. Some other office must be casting Funny Girl, because bad people never get appointments at Telsey and WTF was Rachel Berry doing there?! She’s casting her understudy, too?! These children on GLEE get to do whatever they want! Derek Wills certainly wouldn’t have stood for this offensively relaxed method of casting and rehearsal — but you know who’d have locked that shit down real quick? PSM Linda. (SMASH: +1. GLEE: +0.)
3.) Not Ana vs. Ana: Not Ana bursts into the Fanny u/s audition from the back of the house and busts out an inappropriate pop cover of “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” backed by an orchestra, without ever handing her sheet music to the accompanist or even asking for a bell tone. Not Ana better #werk! She books Rachel Berry’s understudy without a callback, reading for the role, or even dancing. It’s specified that she is the understudy and not the standby, so I guess they’re going to create some track for her…in the middle of rehearsals.
In contrast, Ana Vargas booked the role of the Diva in Hit List after singing drunk on a bar while massaging a bunch of ball-shaped ceiling lamps.
Hmmm.. This is going to be a hard call. Who gave less of a shit?
Both shows were already in rehearsal when their roles were cast. Not Ana is basically ensemble. Ana was a principal. Not Ana went to an actual audition. Ana’s audition was at like the Fat Black Pussycat or something. Not Ana sang a classic song from the show. Ana basically just slapped a cymbal and was like, “Follow me, bitches.” Neither needed to read. Neither had callbacks. I’d give the edge to GLEE here, but you know what? From day one, Ana established her lack of giving a fuck for anything and could really only ever get shit done while under the influence of alcohol, and I can relate to that so I’m gonna make this one a tie. (SMASH: +1. GLEE: +1.)
4.) Complete Disregard for Everybody Else: Adam Lambert and Kurt dance around a music store and inconvenience a bunch of shoppers who were just trying to score a sweet new guitar pick. When SMASH did impromptu musical self-celebrations, they had the common decency to do it at Tom’s apartment or something. If these are the type of people taking over New York’s great music stores, it’s probably a good thing Colony closed. (SMASH: +1. GEE: +0.)
5.) Timeout for Jane Lynch: Jane Lynch had some fucking brilliant lines on this episode. The chemistry between her and Becky make for one of the more compelling relationships on TV today. When GLEE stops being smug and rises to this level of sophistication, it makes everything else on the show look even worse. That is why I must deduct one point from GLEE for showing us how good it can actually be. (SMASH: +0. GLEE: -1.)
6.) SMASHiverse vs. GLEEWorld: I remember people talking about when Glee referenced Smash last year. So, Smash exists in GLEEWorld. Last season, Jimmy bitched about Lea Michele auditioning for the Diva in Hit List. Therefore, the TV show Glee exists in the SMASHiverse and Rachel Berry does not.
If a girl out of high school can book one of the most coveted and debated about leading lady roles in musical theatre history, we can all agree that Broadway sucks ass in GLEEWorld. So, if Smash exists in Glee, then its depiction of Broadway is a flawlessly unattainable entity for GLEEWorld’s Broadway to aspire to. This theory gives SMASH two points. (SMASH: +2. GLEE: +0.)
7.) The Press: Remember when those two audience members on SMASH bitched when Ivy was Marilyn because she had been “knocking around the chorus for years”? Remember when Jerry insisted it had to be Bombshell Introducing Karen Cartwright? Remember when people were worried Lauren Ambrose wouldn’t be a big enough name to carry the actual Broadway revival of Funny Girl? Well, don’t worry, because on GLEE, the New York Times, Time Out New York, and Playbill are LIVING for the story that the new Fanny Brice has high school beef with her understudy. That’s what sells tickets to Broadway shows on GLEE. Two melisma-soaked teenagers from Ohio whose resumes consist of show choir and pouty faces. (SMASH: +1. GLEE: +0.)
8.) Karen vs. Rachel: There was a time when I thought Karen was one of those performers who just sort of floated from opportunity to opportunity, without really working hard or encountering any serious career roadblocks. Then I met Rachel Berry. Ooof. I don’t really know where to start here. Karen was at least mid-twenties when SMASH started, so there are a few years of unaccounted Cartwright backstory. We never really knew how long Karen had been in New York, what her college situation was like, or if the Marilyn: the Musical workshop audition was her first or four-hundreth time pounding the pavement. Rachel Berry? I don’t know… How do I say this without coming off rude? Rachel Berry is the devil. (SMASH: +1. GLEE: +0.)
9.) Set Pieces: SMASH’s Broadway shows rehearsed in rehearsal studios because that’s what you fucking do. GLEE’s Broadway shows rehearse in what looks like a college auditorium (but is probably supposed to be the Neil Simon), because they’re assholes. I guess on GLEE, Broadway shows follow the 1960’s approach and do the entire process in the theatre like it isn’t be taken up by Bronx Bombers or something. GLEE don’t give a fuck about New 42. (SMASH +1. GLEE: +0)
10.) What am I Looking At?: The episode ended with Rachel Berry having emotional explosive-diarrhea all over the apartment because Not Ana booked her understudy, resulting in her moving out of the Park Avenue mansion they share with Kurt. That was after her head rotated 360 degrees and projectile vomited a non-equity kid.
I’m honestly confused with how GLEE wants me to feel about Rachel Berry. It’s really confusing. Rachel Berry is the show’s main protagonist, but she was a truly hateful human being in this episode. Am I supposed to like Rachel Berry? How am I supposed to root for someone so childish? Is this how she is every episode? I would think that after dealing with her bullshit in high school, the McKinley crew would’ve either unfriended her, or at least have a stock method of getting her to shut-the-fuck-up. One time on SMASH, Karen gave sass to Ana and Ana just rolled her eyes and went, “Really?” That was all it took to shut her down. Does nobody have a backbone with Rachel Berry? Are her gay dads members of the Mob or something? It’s just so puzzling.
How many of you have ever felt personally victimized by Rachel Berry?
::raises hand:: (SMASH: +1. GLEE: -1.)
SMASH: 10. GLEE: -1.