Smash: High School Musical

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Smash S01E14: "Previews"

Arrrgh I am loving Smash so much these days. If that confuses or challenges you I'm sorry, but I have nothing but kisses to blow at the steamy soap elements that went on in last night's episode (although I plan on taking Julia to task for being a totally ridiculous baby-woman). The show is just so dead-on! It takes me back to my high school musical days and all the drama and piercingly dramatic romantic shenanigans (think old-school Degrassi High, but with grease paint). Why do musical theater people always work themselves into these mind-warping, soapy, sexual relationship dynamics that aren't just love triangles, they're love dodecahedrons? Personally I think people who thirst for the passions embodied in theater can't help trying to recreate them in their own life, and musical theater folk carry a high-school level of adrenaline and drama with them throughout their lives, which, yes: immature, irresponsible, and kind of stupid! La Boheme is gorgeous; without that key orchestral swell, dying of consumption in a disgusting garret is just trashy. But I digress—let's talk "Previews"!

I've always said, give Karen a little bit of adversity, and she will blossom. Dev waking up alongside Ivy is a shitload more adversity than I had in mind, but wow did it make Karen more likable. And weirdly it didn't make me hate Ivy either, Megan Hilty did a stunning job of looking like she was barely containing Lady Macbeth-level regret for the entire episode. When she skulked in during notes and told Karen not to be nice to her and sat dramatically apart from the group—it was so uncannily sincere and struggling yet unnecessarily dramatic—just like a real actress!!

Also, Karen approaching Rebecca and letting her know Derek had been dating someone else was fantastic only because of Uma Thurman's perfect response. "Who is Ivy?" and, like, appropriately dismissing Karen’s middle-school slut-shaming. Uma also did beautifully during her parts of the preview. All the small missed light cues and glimpses backstage were so subtle and felt authentic. And the horrified reaction of the audience when the musical ended with Marilyn trailing off into death, yikes!

Yeah, bad move for everybody involved with that decision. (Although I LOVED the tilted mirror so you could see the bed.) But come on, even Evita ends with a surging refrain and that blonde chose to slowly wither to death, so... get to work, Julia!

Julia had grabbed up her sweater robes and wool kimonos and her two disgusting family members and taken them all to Boston and she was furious about it, giving everyone the stinkface because Michael Swift managed to come out at the last minute and get them all out of a tight spot. I loved that Tom held fast and told her he couldn't support her with regard to demands that would have essentially ruined the show, and her speech in answering him was SO CONFOUNDING. "You put the show so far above me and my family... we are NOT a team." Um, Julia, do you know what a team is? It's a group of individuals who put aside their personal preferences and problems to further a common goal. YOU are the one who'd rather trash the show and manipulate Tom rather than simply act like a grown-up around a man you shouldn't have humped. SORRAY! Also, don't pretend you weren't BRAGGING to Tom that Michael tried to kiss you and your frumpy steeze.

Although the humping is merely inches, perhaps centimeters away from happening again. And it did crack me up when she first saw Michael and he kind of brooded at her and then took off and Leo was like, "Am I the only one who enjoyed that?" And Frank looked at Leo like he was taking a quick inventory of Leo's brain cells and then said gently, "Yeah...yeah you are." Leo continues to be the worst, except that now the writers are kind of on to it and making him unpopular amongst his own dorky parents.

I absolutely loved when Ivy gave Dev a "fall over and DIE" look outside Colonial Lodge (the third-best in-state hotel franchise in Boston) after he asked her to look for Karen's engagement ring. (Sidebar: How cozy is it to think all the cast are in and out of each other's cheap hotel rooms while the bigwigs sweep through a big gross fancy hotel? Brings back road trip memories!) I was so convinced Dev was a charmer but he behaved like the second piggiest pig on the farm, tussling about with Karen in bed, and pretending to meet Ivy for the first time, then swapping hot glances with Ivy at the bar. You will make a fantastic politician, Dev! And Derek was the piggiest of pigs, glibly telling Ivy he had to "pay attention" to Uma because he was a professional. Professional gigolo, maybe!

I'm 99.9 percent sure that Ellis put peanut oil in Rebecca's smoothie. Doesn't it seem like the kind of thing he would do, right before sending a falcon out to bring him back a kitten's eye? I loved how Eileen's boyfriend shut him down, and then when Anjelica Houston sang it was so sophisticated yet sincere and just lovely, like Anjelica herself. One of the best songs of this entire season and an unexpected little gem.

The new song, "Let's Have Sex Mr. Zanuck" or "Smash" or whathaveyou, was also pretty good and the church song worked—it was also nice to hear Sam sing—but wow, did Karen have to get involved? I can buy Sam doing a solo at his childhood choir, but Karen taking to the pulpit with that sh*t-eating grin on her face like, "It's me! God's gift to church!" and then belting out another WAAAY too produced song. I seriously liked Karen in this episode except for this stint, but this put her in full smug mode, like even church was truly about her golden pipes. Everyone PRAISE KAREN and her backdoor audition for edging out Ivy as Rebecca's replacement! Well, whatever, this guy certainly enjoyed it.

Maybe he'll marry you, Karen.

So yeah, the second and third act treaded water a little bit after the first act gave us one juicy revelation after another, because obviously the finale is all about WHO will be MARILYN in the PREVIEWS?! (And it better be Karen—she may have grossed me out in church but okay yes, she is beyond deserving at this point and—hate to say it, HATE to say it—I think she out-sang Ivy in their "Smash" number. ) I do expect it will be Karen and she'll have to rise above her own pain and anguish to perform after Ivy tells her she effed Dev. But more importantly, what are YOUR predictions for the finale?


– Karen as Marilyn next week, yeah?

– Will Ivy or Dev tell Karen about the one-night stand?

– Derek is just doing his job playing stud to his star, or Ivy should have told him "excuses are for mooses"?

– Are you still into Michael and Julia's undeniable chemistry?

– How would you end a musical about Marilyn Monroe?

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