The premiere of NBC’s Smash last Monday has a lot of people talking ““ and cheering ““ about a show that could finally dethrone the sad, overwritten, burnt-out-at-three-seasons “hit” known as Glee. Ouch. That was mean.
See, I used to like Glee. I did. I loved Rachel, and Kurt, and mash-ups, and regionals, but somewhere along the way I stopped believin’.
It might have been when using guest star Gwyneth Paltrow three times in one season became more important than managing main character storylines. By the way, I still have no concept of Tina’s personality. Don’t remember who Tina is? That’s okay. With an “ensemble cast” of 40 characters and growing, it’s a little hard to keep track.
Smash, even in its pilot, has demonstrated its ability to manage cohesive storylines about adults for adults. And for the most part, its use of music makes sense. In a recent episode of Glee, Trouty-Mouth Sam (played by Chord Overstreet) returned after the internet got mad at Ryan Murphy for axing his character, and the Glee Club immediately broke out into an unnecessary rendition of Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup.” The underage kids country-jigged around the music room drinking sparkling apple cider and were overall weird and trouty-mouthed.
NBC and Smash creator Theresa Rebeck have found a way to incorporate musical numbers into television with style. The show centers around a tag-team of successful Broadway writers (Debra Messing and some dude from Legally Blonde: the Musical) inspired to make their next hit about Marilyn Monroe. Polar opposites Ivy (Wicked’s Megan Hilty) and Karen (American Idol wrongful loser Katherine McPhee) end up competing for the role throughout the course of the show.
Both the original music written for the Marilyn musical and some covers come at appropriate times ““ such as an audition, or rehearsals. I’m all for a little whimsical singing here and there, but I get the feeling Smash will use these moments sparingly. Glee, however, uses song to fill in the last five minutes of every episode, in which all characters and their “band” somehow end up in the auditorium (“We just put this together for the heck of it!”) to sing a top 40 hit for an audience of one: Mr. Shue.
You’re probably wondering: “But Becca. If you hate Glee, why do you keep watching EVERY WEEK?!” Well, friend, here’s the thing. I usually keep watching for one of a few reasons: 1) Lea Michele’s crazy awesome singing talent, 2) Brittany’s sick dancing/one liners, 3) Burt Hummel (“nuff said), or 4) the “so bad it’s good” syndrome, aka the exact same reason I paid $6 at the University Village theater to see A Joyful Noise.
But with Smash in the world, perhaps I can finally escape. Finally.