Smash: Boston Bombshells

By Lily Sparks

May 01, 2012

Smash S01E13: "Tech"

What a saucy episode! Were you nerding out seeing people rushing around in costumes under colored gels and flats swooping down and people in headsets pushing equipment? The way this show captures real theater production—something handily skipped over by Glee—chills every nerve in my musical-theater-loving body. If that makes me a nerd, slap on the nerd handcuffs and take me to nerd jail! I have a feeling I'll like it.

The ensemble pirouetted onto the train to whisk themselves to Boston and see if they couldn't make a success off-Broadway with their Bombshell. (By the way, the poster—did you notice Marilyn's creepy claw fingers? What's that all about?) This left Dev open to that saucy minx R.J.

RJ reminds me of so many different young professional women I've worked with who were perfectly apt in managing their careers but tortured themselves endlessly about their relationships. Imagine if Sisyphus had two balls to roll up the mountain at the same time, and you'll get a glimpse of the mind-melding pressure these women are under to excel at both having a career and being a sexy temptress, and why they so unfailingly use alcohol to manage the phase between the two contrary skillsets you need for both goals.

However no amount of alcohol could get Dev to forget the creamy-smooth, bony-limbed understudy partying it up in Boston. I love how when we saw Karen a couple times this episode, she was wearing her $2,000 jacket. There are little consistencies like this throughout this florid singalong melodrama one of the realest shows on TV.

Meanwhile, Derek dropped the L-Bomb on Ivy, which clearly made her loins sparkle, but then he proceeded to spend the episode entering a Director + Star affair with Rebecca Duvall, which was brilliant. Such a classic star move. Derek was right about using her sense of terror, because Marilyn was so terrified of appearing in front of cameras that she'd anesthetize herself with fistfuls of pills and bottles of champagne, and when that failed she'd simply refuse to show up. Les artistes! Any star will tell you it helps if your director is jonesing for you, you need a loving gaze from someone who's directing your lighting. Also, I guess we can just assume Derek's carrying a real torch for Marilyn herself? Think about it, he unfastened Ivy's hair and kind of squinted his eyes before they did the deed, he only really got into Rebecca when she put on a platinum wig, and all his fantasies about Karen center on her Marilyn impression.

How gorgeous did Uma Thurman look all Marilyn'd out?! She's so gorgeous. My loving stare was fastened upon her for real-sies. Speaking of loving gazes, Julia was fooling no one with her tender stare at Frank over the bed pillows. Yuck. I know she needs help keeping up with the needs of thick Leo, but making pancakes while laughing maniacally doesn't look like a healing marriage to me, it looks like manic-depression. So glad Michael Swift is back next week! Good luck trying to gaze lovingly at old Eyebrows McGee with Michael Swift in the room, you layer-loving ho!

It's truly unfair of her to put it all on Tom, and I felt for him, trying to deal with her "end of discussion! Don't cave! I'm out!" ultimatum-type statements that she has no authority to make, and the cooler heads (i.e. Eileen and Jack) prevailing in Boston were like "Let's get Swift out here and make this show a success." Also, she could just take a break from production for a couple weeks, right? Didn't Eileen leave that door open for her? Julia's being incredibly selfish to demand Michael Swift not be involved in the wake of the current Joe Dimaggio leaving for a pilot. The book is written, right? You know how to email if they need changes, right?

My skin crawled seeing her eat in bed like this. Her home-life is such a nightmare, and now she's taking Leo and Frank with her to Boston to cockblock her flapjacks. Sigh.

Speaking of tag-along musical groupies, Dev schlepped up to Boston to sideline Karen with a proposal (didn't the show hint that he'd tried to convince her to marry him before?) and Karen was like, "I'm in tech!" ...which, let's be real, that's a "No." I completely sympathize with Dev, the writers crafted it in a way that it's impossible not to see his side: He's been cut off at the knees at work, he's curtailing his own opportunities to support Karen as she disappears for days at a time to shimmy in front of a perv director who he's gotten into a fistfight with... like, it's time to break up, guys. Karen is reliving her freshman year of college.

What was especially drama about Dev and Ivy then meeting in a bar and giving each other boner eyes was that I think they sort of recognized each other's names. Ivy sure as hell recognized Dev, and knowing Derek had forsaken her for the arms of Uma effing Thurman, and unapologetically hating Karen, and realizing she was getting the once-over from Karen's boyfriend—it was like munching fifty tabs of chocolate-dipped female Viagra. And I'd even wager that Dev knew exactly who Ivy was too, which makes them both so terribly flawed and naughty. Dev will have MUCH to explain to RJ when they finally get married next season. (I HOPE. TEAM RJ!)

The episode was fantastic, I enjoyed every moment except the cringe-worthy "sing-off" in the hotel room (if you ever hear someone start crying "sing-off" run in the opposite direction) because while music theater nerds ARE that annoying, our bad habits should not be encouraged, and I did a fist pump when Karen got out of there to talk with Dev instead of singing back at Ivy. If she HAD engaged in the sing-off, she would have become the most unbearably vain woman in the world, so thank you, show for inching up Karen's credibility. She's becoming almost root-for-able... well, until she opens her mouth and says "BUT IT'S TECH!" like she's the main surgeon halfway through a brain operation.

Also this one gal just loving every second of Megan Hilty vocalizing while eating Chex Mix CRACKED ME UP. A capella jazzy blues songs and Chex Mix: the barfy pleasures of the semi-successful off-Broadway performer.

This is the same charming pixie who earlier in the season revamped Karen's wardrobe out of the goodness of her heart, and Smash consistently puts her in gauche situations and gives her little standalone moments to glow in. What's her deal?! She's kind of a star. She's like the real-world Karen of the actual show Smash.

In Tom and Sam news, Tom came over for a dinner with Sam's disapproving father and then they had a touching moment on the world's most beautiful porch. "You are my better self" is a stunning line and whatnot, but seriously Sam, you are going to blow out your knees, so think about that.

As stunning as this episode was, and it was stunning, the promo for next week's episode was even more sizzling still! Dev and Ivy did the deed! Rebecca gets poisoned! (Peanut oil, obvs.) Karen must be a STAR!!! (Do you think at the sound of her voice the entire audience will simultaneously climax in the world's largest auditory-driven orgasm?) Seriously I'm very excited for next week and I love that Smash is making crazy complicated bedroom escapades happen. Just like in the real theater, for those of you who didn't perform in high school musicals.


– Have you ever performed in a musical at any level (high school, community college, Branson)? If so, how'd it compare to what we're seeing on Smash?

– Was Karen being super selfish in giving Dev a non-answer or was he a jerk for going up there and foisting a proposal on her because he felt guilty?

– Ivy and Dev! WTF, right!?

– Is Julia being a big crybaby and should she should learn to behave like a professional, or are Eileen and Jack being insensitive?

– Claws on the poster? Not sure how I feel about that!:

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  • bostonbeliever May 16, 2012

    Just saw this today-I'm so behind on tv.

    Julia was being selfish and no right to demand that Will not come back. She should be a professional. And her family is so creepy. I don't mind her husband (though he's not written very well), but the son is just so....ughhhhh

    As a New Yorker, I found it hilarious how the cast hopped on an MTA train from Grand Central and somehow made it to Boston. Like what? If you're taking a train, you use Amtrak from Penn Station. MTA goes to the middle of Connecticut, then you'd have to switch to Connecticut's commuter rail, then switch to the T, which would take you to Boston. But of course, all so they could film in Grand Central.

    Derek is definitely just in love with Marilyn Monroe.

    I see where Dev is coming from, but he picked an inopportune time to propose. Then Karen didn't use nearly enough tact in her rejection.

  • JasonPicusJun May 08, 2012

    Your totally right about everything, but mostly that Jessica is freeking amazing! she is seriously my favorite part of this Show! Honestly I feel like I watch this show waiting to see what that girl will do next! She needs her own spin off.

  • AngelaCadence May 05, 2012

    No, no musical, but lots of plays. The stress level is extremely high, there is a lot of competition, and people love to gossip about you in the theater. It's hard to find a good friend that will be true to you in theater. The stress and friendship elements which appear in Smash are very similar to what I have experienced. The tech run throughs I live for, despite the fact I get so nervous every time from screaming directors to last minute changes and time ticking. DEV was being a jerk, and if you notice, his marriage proposal wasn't's like he was using that to make everything better. Ivy and Dev are wtf. Julia was under pressure and I can understand she didn't want her marriage to unravel again, but she needed to behave like a professional. Number one rule in theater is to do what's best for the show and for everyone, not just for you. Claws on the poster scare me.

  • AngelaCadence May 05, 2012

    What the heck is the matter with you? Dev wasn't simply attracted to RJ. Sluttly little RJ (whatever kind of a nickname for a girl is that) who already knew Dev was in a relationship kept dangling herself obviously and pathetically in front of him. And Karen should have said she was uncomfortable with them being together from the start. "I'm in tech" is's a no...because she is stressed out from everything happening. There are women that give up their careers for men and their are men that give up their careers for women. If he actually cared about her fulfilling everything she's ever wanted, he shouldn't bitch and slut around with RJ and Ivy.

  • SilviaVanessa May 05, 2012

    Yes, Jessica, the little pixie-chorus girl is the real star of that show. She's always on the background, doing things that are actually more interesting than most of the main storylines. She's my favorite and I hope she gets more to do next season.

  • ch0c0nutz May 04, 2012

    dev = devil

    that's all

  • estella87 May 04, 2012

    Just one complaint (or rather: comment) on your review: you wrote "The book is written, right? You know how to email if they need changes, right?" but it's not that simple. A scene might look good on paper (as we say in German: "Papier ist geduldig", i.e. "paper is patient"), when you see it on stage you might realize it's not working the way you wanted it to. So unless Julia re-writes every scene that Derek tells her doesn't work about 50 times in some sort of hit-or-miss, she has to be there. She is the writer after all, he's just the director. And as Tom said, he can't do it either.

  • gsander2653 May 03, 2012

    Why does everyone think that answering "No" to a proposal automatically means the relationship is over? It doesn't. All it means is that they are not ready to take that next big step yet. By the way, a non-answer to a proposal is the same thing as a 'no.' TV shows and movies do this all the time, and it's a little annoying. Just because someone isn't ready to marry you doesn't mean they no longer want to be in a relationship with you.

  • estella87 May 04, 2012

    I'll explain it the way I see it: Obviously, when someone asks you to marry him/her, he/she wants to spend the rest of his/her life with you. And if you say "no" it means you don't. So quite frankly if you still want to be in a relationship with whomever proposed to you even though you don't want to get married you're being selfish, because you are just wasting the other person's time (as well as your own, unless marriage is not what you are looking for).

  • ch0c0nutz May 04, 2012

    i'm thinking gsander2653 just said "no" to his/her lover's proposal and is trying to justify it...

  • KayWatkins May 02, 2012

    Okay ep but cringing at the thought of that whole Michael Swift stuff. Ugh! Here we go again! I have NO sympathy for Julia-NONE!

  • ben45tpy May 02, 2012

    Loved this review and the episode was great. The singoff almost worked for me and I was ready for Karen to sing back and not break the TV, but then they brought in the mid-singoff clipshow! duh-duh.

    I pretty much think Dev is Satan by now but there was something slightly tragic about his attempted proposal, even though it was for the worst reasons.

    Poor Ivy! I can just about forgive her sleeping with Dev after what you went through in this episode.

    I performed in a few musicals in high school, although we were two insignificant to have anything that could be remotely called a 'tech' period. A few lighting checks and a dress rehearsal was pretty much all we got.

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