SMASH Don’t Give a Shit: “The Song”

The fourth episode of SMASH is called, “The Song,” which is fitting because the entire hour led up to one thing: Jennifer Hudson’s show-stopping finale. Before that, we were treated to a master class in how to throw your entire storyline under the proverbial bus and grind the season to a complete halt. Move over Ivy Lynn, this is Jennifer Hudson’s last episode. SMASH don’t give a shit!

Let’s not split hairs here. Jennifer Hudson murdered it on the Oscars last Sunday [werk!]. And while she may have taken a big ass dump on the majority of this episode, that girl knows how to sanitize a bathroom and leave it smelling like roses [literally. roses fell on the stage] for whoever’s turn is next.

It’s noon on a weekday and I’ve just had my fix of a nice bottle of Sangiovese. Shall we get started?

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Top 10 Times SMASH Didn’t Give a Shit and Other Things I Loved: “The Song”

1.) Sheryl Lee Ralph: Willy Wonka is a dreamer of dreams and so is Bernie Telsey. Choosing Sheryl Lee Ralph to play Jennifer Hudson’s mother was a stroke of pure imagination. SMASH doesn’t like to be too self referential, so we weren’t gifted with a Dreamgirls mashup between the two divas. However, we were given an encore performance by Lauryn Hill’s mom from Sister Act II: Back in the Habit.

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SMASHtastic.

When it comes to the support of her daughter’s talent, Sheryl Lee Ralph’s “Cynthia Moore” is the polar opposite of the mom she played in the better Sister Act film. But SMASH don’t give a shit and neither does Ms. Ralph. She gives us what we want and we love it. The banter between Veronica and her mom went something like this:

MOM FROM SISTER ACT II

Now just when were you going to tell me that you’re in a choir?

VERONICA MOORE

Momma, I’m not singing in a choir. This is my one-night-only-sold-out-concert on BRAVO!

MOM FROM SISTER ACT II

Singing does not put food on the table. Singing does not pay the bills. Singing is no guarantee to a future. Even if you have got talent.

VERONICA MOORE

I have talent. I have two Tony Awards. And this is my one night only concert. Didn’t you watch the Oscars? I can SING.

MOM FROM SISTER ACT II

So could your daddy and he died still tryin’ to make it.

VERONICA MOORE

Why don’t you take the hint, DEENA, and sing with me…? Isn’t that why you’re here, Sheryl Lee Ralph? (cough) I mean mom…?

[BLANK STARE]

They might bring back that Tony for special theatrical event! We could win!

MOM FROM SISTER ACT II

Baby, if you want to win in life, then you keep your nose in them books and out of the clouds!

VERONICA MOORE

I’m thirty. Can you just go home?

MOM FROM SISTER ACT II

Baby, I know how you feel, really I do. But there are a lot of talented people right down there on the streets singing their “shoulda, coulda, wouldas.” Now, is that how you want to end up?

VERONICA MOORE

Sometimes I feel like I don’t remember what I wanted.

MOM FROM SISTER ACT II

Good! Then you don’t have time for any choir cause you got to study.

VERONICA MOORE

I don’t want to study. I want people to know I’m not just a good girl.

MOM FROM SISTER ACT II

The choir and the competition are out.

VERONICA MOORE

But, momager…

MOM FROM SISTER ACT II

If you, “but momager” me one more time… Now I said, the choir and the competition is out. You understand?

VERONICA MOORE

Yeah. Definitely.

AND SCENE (At least that’s how I remembered it).

p.s. Sister Act II turns twenty this year. Raise your hand if you just threw up in your mouth and reevaluated what you’re doing with your life.

2.) Peter IS A Sociopath: Julia refers to Peter [the show doctor, dramaturg, and apparently the new Ellis] as a “sociopath.” A sociopath is, “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.” Peter isn’t really antisocial, but he sure can’t distinguish right from wrong.

There are three fears that keep me up at night: drowning in an ocean of my own self doubt, a zombie apocalypse, and being imprisoned in a black box full of theatre undergrads. Look. Julia is going through a divorce. She lost her family. Her career is in flux. Can we cut this lady a break? Nope! Peter don’t give a shit. He took Julia to NYU to learn from a bunch of his students. This really shows what kind of a sick fuck he truly is.

Telsey nailed it again with the casting, because those kids were like an all star line up of douches. They’re wearing smart people glasses. They’re doing breathing warmups. They’re marking their beats. I have hives. I actually need to move on from this subject because it’s just too disconcerting.

3.) Ronnie [melba] Moore: We all drink while watching SMASH because we don’t give a shit. I’m not saying I was drunk, but somewhere along the line I missed when we started calling Veronica (Jennifer Hudson) by her nickname, “Ronnie.”

The episode opens up with Ronnie singing “I Got Love” from Purlie. What I love about Ronnie’s concert is that we really saw Derek take a turn at not really giving a shit. He complains that Ronnie has been doing that boring arrangement of “I Got Love” for ten years. UGH. He’s right! It was SOOO BAD. BORING! Stop letting J HUD belt.

Derek is a genius because everyone keeps telling me that. Derek really knows how to sex Ronnie up. He slows down “I Got Love,” takes out all that superfluous vocal artistry, and adds Karen in! You know… to do a wide, deep, second position plié… with a cat nuzzle…Sorry, a “Kat” nuzzle. Now that’s raw. That’s art.

Ronnie performs the new “I Got Love” in what appears to be a silver, sequent, t-shirt/trash bag. She looks fierce but I sort of wish she wore what Melba Moore did in the original production of Purlie:

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This costume isn’t raw… but it sure is medium rare!

4.) Jimmy, his Partner, and the Muse: Tom doesn’t think Jimmy and Kyle can write a song in a day. Kyle points out that Sondheim wrote “Send in the Clowns” in that amount of time. Karen then chimes in to include that Tom wrote “Don’t Forget Me” in one day. You know what else was written in one day? That awesome JFK song from last week!

Later, we see Jimmy struggling to write his song. Karen waltzes in like the Muse-y McMuse she is, and inspires Jimmy. It’s what muses do. Karen pretends like she actually gives a shit about rehearsal, but Jimmy talks her into staying to help him. I mean… she might as well hang out. It’s not like anyone ever bothers to discipline Karen. Where’s Ann Harada’s Linda with a write up and letter to Equity??? Damn. I want to be Karen. I want to be Karen so bad!

It wouldn’t be an episode of SMASH without a completely unnecessary outburst from Jimmy. He got mad. He got sad. He got high. He got lost. Kyle tried to find him, but fell victim to a Billy Joel distraction that involved strolling down to a random pole just to give Spring-Awakening-angsty-face to Staten Island (could have been Manhattan…boroughs confuse me). He then turned around and went home. #werk

Listen. We’ve all done it. Don’t tell me you’ve never played your iPod like it was the soundtrack to your life. Since Kyle couldn’t get Jimmy on the phone, I’d have rather seen him break into “Call Me Maybe.” It would be funny and something I’ve never done. Ever.

Ronnie ends up singing Jimmy and Kyle’s song at the finale of her concert. Thank GOD. If she didn’t, these poor kids would have to wait six months to three years to get their work performed at Joe’s Pub, or wherever might be relevant to further their career. Small cabaret venues really are the only place where two young songwriters can get their music heard. Pulling Karen into a studio and putting their music on YouTube like Pasek & Paul did with Edges is definitely not the road to success. Cheers to Kyle and Jimmy!

5.) That Awkward Moment When… :

  • Julia chucked Peter’s play at his face and the foley artist decided an anvil sound effect would be appropriate.
  • The backstage alley of the fictional Copeland Theatre existed in the theatre district of the 1970s.
  • Both Tom and Julia haven’t changed their ringtones since 2007.
  • Ronnie wailed Billy Joel at a ghost light.
  • Ronnie appears to be living in her dressing room at the Copeland.
  • Ivy may or may not have been stalking Ronnie at the Copeland.
  • Ronnie complained to Ivy about how successful she is. #SoBlessed
  • Derek wouldn’t let the other ensemble girl sing backup for Ronnie.
  • Jimmy and his “partner” wore Book of Morman costumes to Ronnie’s concert.
  • Jimmy said he, “may have done some drugs.”
  • Jimmy was “rolling” with his homies.
  • Whatever Karen was doing during that kiss.
  • Let’s just say, that entire Karen and Jimmy scene.
  • Ronnie introduced Kyle as Jimmy’s “partner.”
  • Julia is the best friend ever by not attending Tom’s concert.
  • Peter and Julia decided to day drink red wine and not invite Ana.

6.) Julia is NOT Grace: Debra Messing plays Julia Houston on SMASH. She does NOT play Grace Adler. Grace was a completely different character. Grace used to fall for guys who rubbed her the wrong way. Julia does not do that. I can’t see Julia and Peter ever ending up together. Grace always needed to be saved by Will. When has Tom ever needed to come to the aid of Julia? At one point Peter tells Julia something about herself that she’s doing and Julia’s like, “No, I’m not. Yes, I am. Oh, my god!” That, my friends, is a Julianism. Not at a Graceism.

I like seeing NBC step out of the shadow of the 1990s and really embrace something new and fresh. Julia Houston is fresh. If there is a third season, I suggest Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer guest star as two crazy-for-each-other choreographers who simply can not get their shit together. I don’t have a Nielsen box, but I’d watch that show.

7.) Roles I Need to See J HUD Play: Ivy was a swing when Ronnie played Audrey. I’ll say that again in case it didn’t register. Ivy was a swing when Ronnie played Audrey. I don’t know what Ivy was swinging. Possibly the bass that sings, “Then you go…” Maybe Ronnie meant Ivy was her standby. That means Bombshell marks the second time Ivy has covered someone completely appropriate for the role they were playing.

Ronnie’s set list includes, “If I Loved You” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.” So now, despite what we’ve seen from her, Veronica Moore is supposed to be Audra. I think that’s awesome. I’m tired of Jennifer Hudson being a vocal magician. I want some struggle! RAWNESS!

Here are some other roles I’d love to see Jennifer Hudson tackle:

  • Anna Leonowens in The King & I
  • Marian in The Music Man
  • Christine in Phantom (The Yeston/Kopit one. Yes. I’m specific)
  • Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain
  • Everything from which Audra has a Tony Award

8.) Words of Wisdom from The Big Bad Willsly: Derek has by far the best line in the history of ever. He barks at Jimmy, “No one deserves anything in this business. You wait your turn and you earn it.” WEEERRRKKK. And Derek says this in front of Karen. Without any sense of irony! KAREN. The one with the free pass on life.

SOAPBOX:

Really? Really, Derek? Karen. Karen Cartwright. The girl we’ve seen audition once? Ever? In the entire series? Really? I’m pretty sure Karen moved to New York City with her high school senior portrait for a headshot, thirty-two bars of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” and a pair of one-inch capezio heels. Really. Good thing she had that rich lawyer boyfriend to pay the rent while she booked national commercials and met with record producers… But, you’re right, Derek. People have to wait their turn. People wait years. Just ask Quvenzhanè Wallis. But not Karen Cartwright! Not the girl that actually asked if the numbers on the floor in the rehearsal room transition to the stage in the theatre. Nope. Not Karen. Ok, so you didn’t let her be Marilyn at first. You gave the role to Ivy. Karen Cartwright don’t give a shit! She knows how to take rejection! She’ll put on a face and show up to work…everyday…in the chorus. Karen respects the craft! … I take it back. Derek, you’re right. Karen worked hard and then she werked hard. She earned that shit.

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9.) Antony & Cleopatra: Somewhere in the middle of this episode was an awesome cloak and dagger sequence between Antony (the bartender guy) and Cleopatra (Eileen). That shit was amazing. I actually don’t know anything about Antony and Cleopatra, but the bartender looked like a disheveled Roman. More importantly, Eileen rocked bare arms, a fabulous necklace, and full beat. She has officially completed her transformation into an Egyptian queen. I guess Jerry would be Caesar… and there’s most definitely a Brutus, but we’ll get to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named later.

10.) Misogynistic Marilyn: The life of Marilyn Monroe as seen through the eyes of the men that controlled her, is a truly brilliant concept. I don’t need Marilyn to tell me her story. Leave that to the boys! Monroe divorced DiMaggio due to the mental cruelty she suffered from him after The Seven Year Itch. Miller referred to Monroe as an ex wife he despised, while they were married. And Kennedy had absolutely nothing to do with her death. It’s also a completely different device than the one used in My Week with Marilyn, so haters can back off.

This misogynistic approach is a SMASHtastic framing device for Bombshell because the boob number on the recent Academy Awards went over really well!

GRAND FINALE…

There weren’t any Broadway name drops in this episode, so nobody to add to the SMASH Hit List. From now on I will refer to this as the: Shit List… and I think there’s a tiny chance that I might be on it.

At the end, Eileen said that Jerry was, “the word’s worst human being.” But we all know who the world’s worst human being is…

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One comment

  1. Annie Deutsch (@AnnieBanannie25)

    #8 is spot-on. Karen never lived the struggling artist life due to her hot, rich, boyfriend paying the bills.

    Also, I totally thought Jimmy and Kyle were going all Book of Mormon for that scene as well. It was so bizarre, I almost peed myself from laughter.

    SMASH has become a hot mess.

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