In the Smash season finale, I liked the conversation in the episode about how art is beauty and joy. But it was a very small flicker of hope in an otherwise “shrug” season finale. Let me ask you – is that finale song in your head at all? Yea, not in mine either.
When you walk away from a good song, or a good musical, you expect to be uplifted. You want to sing all the songs in the shower, in the car, etc. You have the lyrics in your head and you can’t get enough of them. But I’ve never had that experience with the Smash Musical Songs, and especially not with that finale number. Smash should have done better. It should have been better. But it wasn’t. It was the wrong horse to bet on.
Ellis is still the worst. He really never made much of a stink about the fact that the musical was loosely his idea, and maybe in Smash Season 2 he’ll try to sue or something. But this power-hungry psycho can never be redeemed since he poisoned Rebecca. What’s interesting to me is that he backed Ivy so much, he clearly thought she was the better choice. But Derek, who was also invested in making a hit, saw more potential in Karen.
Derek picked Karen. We can’t not talk about that. This story really gets muddled because of that fact. Karen was inexperienced and not at all necessarily better for the role of Marilyn. (Don’t you think they would have only cast girls who had the Marilyn figure, anyway? It’s downright insulting to put such a thin girl up there when Marilyn was known for her curves.)
I made the argument very early on that Ivy was a villain, and people told me I was crazy. Well, it’s still a complicated subject. Ivy did everything right, and she still didn’t get what she deserved. She was the mean girl, and that didn’t help. But sleeping with Dev wasn’t her fault, because she didn’t know he had a girlfriend when she slept with him. (EDIT: As everyone has pointed out, Ivy did know Dev was Karen’s boyfriend. Okay, okay.) The mean part was telling Karen right before the show. And then, she goes and attempts suicide – so it’s like, hard to say you hate her without feeling kind of gross about yourself. If anything, Ivy proved how very much a Marilyn (weak, sexual manipulator, drug addict, vapid, etc) she is.
Marilyn Monroe? She was not nice. I’ve read books about her written by people who knew her. Monroe was a pretty girl who did ugly things, was ragingly insecure, and was obsessed with fame. Today, she’s any reality TV star. People got so pissed off about Lana Del Rey changing her look, but it’s exactly what Marilyn did. She changed her entire name to brand herself. Audrey Hepburn is a better role model, but even she wasn’t the saint we all pretend she was.
Now, back to Karen and Ivy. Karen was almost too nice. But she still didn’t deserve that part. It was an insane choice. She didn’t know the numbers the way Ivy did, the outfits weren’t tailored for her, she wasn’t prepared, etc. Karen’s voice wasn’t better, nor were her dance moves. Even though Ivy is a bitchy girl, she should have been Marilyn. And I was hoping that the show would get at least one thing right. But they didn’t. Smash was a season-long series that failed in nearly every step it took.