I love Broadway plays. I love musical theater and the movie musical, and always have. So I was thrilled when I saw promos for Smash, the new NBC series about putting on a Broadway show. I watched the pilot, and it was excellent. So yay, a musical show for grownups! (I’ve tried to watch Glee and have yet to manage five full minutes without intense boredom.)
And after about four shows, I’m pretty sure I figured out the conversation of the creators of Smash when they first thought it up.
“Hey, let’s put on a show about putting on a show. Nobody’s ever done that before!”
“Or at least not in the last few decades. Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney did it?”
“Never mind, dear. I’ll send you a link.”
“Okay, but this is a modern Broadway show, and there aren’t any kids in it. We’ll do it about Marilyn Monroe! Sex sells, and we can get a big, busty blonde to play the part.”
“Ooh, and we can make her dumb as a brick, too.”
“And there will be the ingenue, the corn-fed hick from Iowa, who has the corny, conservative parents who think she’s wasting her life.”
“Don’t forget about the gay co-creator, the obnoxious director who sleeps with the blonde after striking out with the ingenue, the assistant who is really only out for himself and ready to screw anyone who gets in his way.”
“If we make him a guy, do you think anyone will notice we took him straight out of All About Eve”?
“No, and make him straight, because he’s working for a gay guy and you know how those corn-fed hicks don’t like too many gay guys. Oh, but make the actor who plays him look totally gay just to keep everyone guessing.”
“Ooh! Ooh! Let’s have the playwright have an affair with one of the actors from the last time he starred in her show!”
“Great idea! Oh, and let’s have the producer divorce his wife so she has to prove she’s every bit as good a producer as he is and try to get the show produced without her husband. That’s new, a woman who dumps a rich guy after he cheats on her with a string of bimbos trying to prove she has her own talent and he didn’t marry her just for her looks.”
So let’s see: They’ve got the All About Eve assistant subplot. They actually had the blonde ask, “Do you think I got the part just because I slept with the director?” (And yes, dear, the director doesn’t take you to his home because he can’t cook because the gas is out. Right. Sure. Of course.) Every actor is dumber than mud. Only the slightly bitchy playwright sees the assistant for the evil bitch that he is (he is so not straight, I don’t care if he has a girlfriend). Oh, Deborah Messing is wearing the ugliest glasses they could possibly have gotten for her, but I guess they’re going by the old “It makes her look smart!” thing.
The show tunes are really good, and I’m interested in seeing the play, well, if there’s a book instead of just the songs. But do I want to invest 37 minutes of time for a five-minute song that I can probably just download from iTunes instead?
I’m thinking not so much. Cliches? Really? That was the best they could do? I should have realized the show couldn’t live up to its title. Hubris, people. It isn’t a smash until we say it is. And I’m not saying it.