Smash: Rebecca the Diva

Smash S01E12: "Publicity"

For me, part of the fun of watching television is thinking about the actual actors behind the characters, what they're thinking during a given scene, what fight they just had with the hairdresser, whether their trailers smell like drugs or if their parents DVR the show. Which is a huge part of why I love Smash—it really invites that kind of thinking and takes it to a meta level. (Who would be better to play Marilyn—Katharine McPhee or Karen? Aha! I just got you to admit there is no difference between Katharine McPhee and Karen.)

This "movie star" interlude really brings that up to a fever pitch—how much is Uma Thurman "faking" having a weak voice? And who's idea was it that Rebecca Duval would eat only kale shakes and potato chips; is that based on an actress she knows? When is the last time paparazzi chased her and does it feel weird to simulate that, like PTSD? Does she give her $2,000 coats away in real life or was that something the character did because Karen the character was running around looking like a rag picker from Star Wars? I mean, what was going on with her coat? How does one even get into that thing and why was she pretending you can use the pockets?

Anyway, the episodic promos for Smash are very tricky. I never miss promos, and I extrapolate a lot from them, so when they're deceptive about where the plot is going (like the bait-and-switch with Uma's first episode), I get very antsy. This episode was no exception, because the promo featured Uma yelling "YOU NEED TO FIRE KAREN!" or something and so the whole episode I was waiting for that ax to drop, already penning my review: "Finally, Karen gets the adversity her character has so long lacked…"

NOPE. Instead, Karen got what Karen always gets: a bizarre amount of approval from someone who barely knows her, as well as a weird, inauthentic moment of stage time in a very public place. Like, when is the last time you went to a club an stood around and ACTUALLY LISTENED to the entertainment? You're there to chill out with your friends, not watch some daft bitch with auto tune in her throat, right?

The other half of the episode was Julia trying to find Leo, which—and I am NOT trying to be funny here, I am not making a joke about this, SERIOUSLY: Is Smash trying to make a brave/progressive choice by writing Leo as a mentally handicapped kid but never explicitly saying it? I've been making jokes about Leo all season and now I'm worried that it was my bad, because maybe he's supposed to be a little bit specially abled? The wave of fear that passed over Julia's features—which are always poised for rage/tragedy anyway—when she found out that Leo's whereabouts were unaccounted for is simply not the reaction the mother of a fully functioning 16-year-old would have. But then again, I'm not a mom to teens, so what do I know?

Although when I saw those sunglasses I KNEW rageful Julia had come out to play. She only wears those sunglasses when she wants to secretly roll her eyes at Eileen during notes and scare adolescent boys. Although I gah-RON-tee you that was not the first time the streets of New York have reverberated with Debra Messing's screams of, "I'M FAMOUS! I CAN DESTROY YOU!"

So how amazing was Dev in the Bollywood number? I never expected to see Dev dance, but he killed it! The whole piece was freaking spectacular, in the literal sense of the word (though the context, set-up, and fantasy segue was very bizarre and Smash has officially used up the one time it gets to use that device, no more, that's it, thanks!). Did they film that in a cathedral?! How many weeks did it take?! Every character was involved!!! And the whole Bollywood thing of taking a heartbreaking moment and turning it into the happiest song you've ever heard, I forgot how much I love that, and man I'm going to watch Dola Re Dola the second after I write this.

Here's the tragic thing, according to Dev's a.k.a. Raza Jaffrey's IMDB profile, he created "the dance-show spectacular RED," which combines like every kind of dance you've ever heard of...so he's a musical theater geek like the rest of us who somehow got railroaded into Smash's only non-singing, non-dancing part? Oh man, that sucks. I hope they let him sing a lot more because his pipes are THRILLING.

As usual, everything bad that happened in this episode came from Ellis. Smash is really leaning awfully hard on his character to create conflict. He absorbs all the unlikable traits the other characters and shoots it out at people in high-frequency rays of annoying. Yes, Ivy told him to do the worst thing he did all episode, which was basically sending Karen home so Ivy could sing the "Baby Grand" song, but still. The show has him running around like he's wearing a cloak of invisibility instead of color-blocked sweaters, peeping over people's shoulders and conniving so hard. He's going to need a long curly mustache and some train tracks pretty soon.

Ivy has been such a villainous pot-stirring ho recently. Stop stirring all those pots, Ivy! Or else do your own dirty work so Ellis can get back to copying Eileen's email contact list and selling it online or whatever he does for fun. Although all Ellis's evils will be forgiven if he is the one who scheduled Eileen's appointment with her new hairdresser.

Looking good, lady! Was this Anjelica Huston's doing, did she hint that her character had made enough of an emotional turn that she could be allowed an attractive hairstyle? These are the questions that haunt me.

I'd be hard-pressed to tell you what the point of this episode was. Nothing really changed, besides Karen appearing in tabloids. Tom and Sam did share a passionate kiss, but as usual Tom's romantic entanglements got about half the nod that Julia's normally does. (Speaking of which, Michael might be coming back! Don't fight it Julia, you're a single woman now! Bathe those flapjacks in the moonlight once more!) And Ivy proved she knows how to make life difficult. Sigh. Still, unlike past episodes that didn't move things forward, this one did it like a champ. This was the synchronized swimming of treading water—helicopter shots, paparazzi freezes, and mother-effing Bollywood. No complaints! Loved it! What did you think?

QUESTIONS:

– What did you think of the fantasy segue into the Bollywood number?

– Must Michael definitely come back?

– Leo: What is going on with him?

– Just what actress is Uma's character kind of based on? Shakes and potato chips? Weirdly racist curry jokes? Is this what Kelly Ripa is like in person?!

– How is Rebecca going to leave the production?

– What were your thoughts on this episode?

Comments (23)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Loved the Bollywood number so bad!!!!! Dev should do more stuff like that!!!!!!



I really hope Michael comes back, Julia's storylines with him were far more interesting than the ones she has with her husband.... :D
Reply
Flag
Over a week late, yeah, I'm busy and this is towards the bottom of priority for tv shows I watch.

I definitely don't watch for the story. But Ivy did do an excellent job with her number and Karen's number in the beginning was fun, as was the Bollywood number. Go Dev!

But Snow Patrol? Really? I mean, nothing against Snow Patrol, but that song was released 8 years ago...just sort of random.



Leo is in an Advance Placement class? Really? I don't buy it.

But I definitely cracked up at the line "he's younger than he looks". Well, yeah, Julia, he looks like a 24 year old.

I also think he's just not realistic. Kids don't do that-run away to a friend's house for a few days. 16 is when you start yelling back at your parents for being more immature than you. No wonder they want to adopt another kid-they don't trust their genes anymore.

Anyways, I feel like Rebecca will find herself unwanted and marginalized, leading her to leave for non-musical projects.
Reply
Flag
This is over a week late, but in case anyone reads it, I was fine with the Bollywood number all except for the repeated references to the 1001 Arabian nights. India is NOT part of the Arab world. If it's Bollywood, go India. If it's Arab, go 1001 Arabian nights. They do not belong to the same world. I'm just saying. (See also: "The Jungle Book" did NOT take place in Africa)
Reply
Flag
1. I hated the Bollywood number sooo much! I could not stop thinking "What the hell!?" and they have done that daydreaming thing to death. You cannot do that 10 times in one season. At some point the viewers will start wondering whether the show should be set in an asylum.

2. I wasn't a big fan of the affair but after hearing the new guy sing his song I have to say he has to come back for the sake of the musical...

3. Oh God, Leo! I wonder if the writers had a bet on whether they could write the worst teenage character that has ever been on tv and have it played by the worst teenage actor?

4. Maybe the writers imagined what divas are like and then just came up with random stuff they saw in movies?

5. Who knows maybe someone will make her a pb&j

6. This show is getting ridicoulous(er) and the only thing that made this ep halfway bearable for me was when Ivy got to sing that song. I love Ivy and her voice so much!
Reply
Flag
i'd actually LOVE to know where is that coat karen is wearing from?!?!? ANYONE? Thanks.
Reply
Flag
I think Lily is way off calling some of the episodes fillers. I haven't felt any episodes have been filler and pretty much all the episodes have been stellar except let's be bad and that was OK.

I might be the only member in the I don't hate Ellis fanclub. Come on guys he's not that bad. Everyone knows Karen has things way to easy. Ellis empathises with Ivy so his action helped keep Ivy in the game. Later on we'll see this action of Ellis's as vital to ensure that Karen and Ivy remained on an even keel. So the suggestion that Ellis' every action is selfish and climbing is way out. He's one of my favourite characters on the show.

Now that Lily's put the idea of Leo being retarded I can't think past it. He's so poorly realized that that would make the most sense. And did anyone else die from laughter when Julia mentioned that he was much younger than he looked!

The fantasy sequence was great and one of the best the show's done. Strange though is that it didn't feel very Bollywood to me. The music, the costumes, the set and especially the lyrics seemed way more Arabian to me. Hint: they quoted 1,001 Arabian Nights. That didn't detract from the number but it was strange they didn't make it more Indian (or Bollywood if absolutely necessary). But Dev was a real jerk in this episode outside of that number. Why does everyone rat on Ellis when Dev is the real villain at the moment. He's had a negative arc on this show which is a bit sad.

Michael coming back seems inevitable but I'm worried that we haven't yet explored other men in Marilyn's life. As things currently stand we'll be stuck with the DiMaggio section which isn't the most interesting part of her life. The Uma stuff is great but it's disallowing us consistent storylines on the creation of the show's story and musical numbers.
More+
Reply
Flag
seriously, julia's family storyline SUCKS! so uninteresting and unnecessary!..

the bollywood number made the whole epi worth it!...

at first i was like o.O wth is going on? why is dev dancing and singin? but the whole thing was just so funny and entertaining i didn't even care that it didn't make any sense!... and i agree! i want more of dev singing and dancing!
Reply
Flag
Ellis is ridiculous. He is a terrible villain and a pointless character, why does no-one notice him stood staring at them while they have a private conversation? And Leo needs to go away, it wouldn't be so bad if he was played by a decent actor...
Reply
Flag
Agreed both Ellis and Leo can go... I am tempted to switch off every time they appear on screen
Reply
Flag
Julia's comment to the police about Leo: "He's younger than he looks" made me laugh out loud, felt like that statement was something for the viewers too. But serously, I hate that kid/actor. Why does he have to spell out every sentence in slow motion? How does he have friends?
Reply
Flag
There are no words to describe how annoying Ellis is. He is a lying, back-stabbing little weasel. He would sell the corps of his mother to get ahead. Every time he finds out some sensitive information (which seems to be all the time), he not only tells it to someone else, but he tells it to the last person who is supposed to know it. He switches sides like a weather vane. What makes it worse is that we don't yet know he is doing it. What is this guy's motivation? Is it just to move up the ladder, or something else? And it's frustrating that no one seems to notice all the chaos he has created behind their backs. I hope that in the near future there is a big reveal where everyone start talking about him and realize that he is the one who has instigated most of the trouble. I just don't get this guy. What was the reason for him to suddenly ally himself with Ivy, making Karen's life harder? Does he want the production to finish at all or does he enjoy seeing projects fail? Was he bullied in school because of his size, or is he just fucked in the head?
More+
Reply
Flag
My money is on Rebecca leaving via peanut allergy. I base this on the promo from last week and her mention of it this episode.
Reply
Flag
That's what I think as well. And I'm pretty sure it's gonna be that creep Ellis who poisons her!
Reply
Flag
Loved the episode! I was grinning from ear to ear during the Bollywood number. Props for pulling that one off. If there's one thing I've learned from watching so you think you can dance, its that bollywood is one of the hardest dances to make look good if you are a novice. So props to McPhee and the rest of the cast for making it look so easy. Also, I want more singing and dancing Dev
Reply
Flag
Glad I'm not the only one starting to think that about Leo. Up until this episode I just thought the actor was terrible (still do) but the reactions to him going missing really did make me wonder if he's supposed to be mentally challenged. That would certainly explain a lot of his dialogue that seems to have been written for a much younger character (e.g. his crying over not getting a baby sister). On the other hand, that might be giving this show too much credit and it could just be a bad writing/bad acting combo.
Reply
Flag
yes, i so agree on the bollywood! i had forgotten, too, like lily mentioned, how happy those amazing indian extravaganza numbers can make you! great work! loved all the songs in this episode, even karen's inauthentic moment (great description), and definitely ivy's haunting marilyn song. i was entranced when she finished...
Reply
Flag
good episode I guess. the Bollywood performance just came out of left weird and was a little weird, but I actually kind of liked it. Between Leo, Ellis, Eileen's ex husband, the bitchy version of Ivy, Dev sometimes, and now Rebecca, I don't see how this show can get away with so many unlikable characters. Ivy atleast has a reason to do what she does, even though I don't like how she's doing it.
Reply
Flag
I'm starting to get very very frustrated with this show. The pilot was absolutely amazing, and every subsequent episode has failed to live up to it. Sometimes it kinda sorta gets close, but usually it doesn't.

My biggest problem is that nothing EVER happens on this show anymore! The setup is that we have Ivy and we have Karen, and both want to play Marilyn, but only one can. We should be moving towards a resolution to that. Instead, we get these little jabs and subtle positioning that don't bring us any closer to finding out who will win. Everything is just a tangent to fill out a season without answering the question until the very end.

As for this episode, that Bollywood number was way over the top and was really just too much for me. I can appreciate the high production values and I can get over the fact that it was a dream sequence, but I'm starting to get tired of how every dream each of these characters has is perfectly choreographed. (Personally, I've never had a choreographed dream.) And to have Tom stroking a genie lamp until smoke came out? I thought we were dealing with a subtle portrayal of a realistic modern gay man on this show. I guess instead the writers would rather make big flashing "He's gay! He's gay!" neon signs. (Prediction: next week's over the top scene will involve big flashing "He's gay! He's gay!" neon signs).

Also, from what I can tell, just about EVERYONE hates Leo. Why do the writers not realize this and do something about it? Maybe don't write him off, but at least embrace the hate the way they've done with Ellis.
More+
Reply
Flag
I really love this show and that's why I keep coming back... but what really bothers me is the fact is that it's so frustrating. I mean, one week its great and then the next one its terrible... it's just so uneven. Oh and for the love of God just get rid of Ellis and Leo!
Reply
Flag
I totally agree that the Bollywood number was awesome. I watch both this and Glee, and I can definitively say its been a while since I've actively listened to either of the shows musical scenes and liked them so much. Doubly so since this was one of those "happening in real life but not" musical songs. Maybe I'm jumping the gun, but I think was Smash's best song to date. And yeah, its crazy sad that they've been hiding Raza Jaffrey from us this entire time!! He needs to do more singing! Hopefully this means hes not getting cut from the show anytime soon. As much as I had started to dislike his character, he basically erased all those thoughts from my mind with this episode... although getting to act like a decent person again may have helped.
Reply
Flag
Didn't the promo from last week also have someone screaming for an ambulance? I was waiting for Ivy and Ellis to put peanut oil in her smoothie!!!
Reply
Flag
I thought that would happen too...although I was hoping not because it would have been so pathetically obvious. They sure did a lot to set up the idea though, so maybe Rebecca will unknowingly eat a peanut next week and that's how she'll end her arc.
Reply
Flag
The bollywood scene was amazing!! I about died when it started, more of this PLEASE!!
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook