Smash “The Cost of Art” Review

I’ve begun to have a strange split in my feelings about Smash. On one hand, I can’t help but get sucked into these characters as they try to get “Marilyn: The Musical” off the ground. On the other hand, I’m starting to resent how conveniently everything seems to be able to resolve itself in every episode. “The Cost of Art” gave us some really entertaining rehearsal related drama, but wrapped it up in a mostly happy ending sooner than I would have liked.

After last week’s review, a someone mentioned in the comments that their biggest Smash peeve was that everyone seemed overly supportive of one another. I wholeheartedly agreed, and added that I had hoped that the workshop process would bring out some of the more petty drama that happens behind the scenes of a theater production. The first half of tonight’s episode was strong because it did just that. Ivy Lynn’s diva attitude came out to play, the cliques fell into place, and the new kid stuck out like a sore thumb.

Karen had been acting as if being in the ensemble was some kind of insulting consolation prize for not getting the lead. Karen’s dance skills were below average compared to her cast mates and apparently she’s never sung in a chorus before because she had no idea that she was supposed to blend in with the people singing next to her. She should have considered it a miracle that she wasn’t simply fired.

It’s not that I wanted everyone to be mean to Karen, but I wanted Karen to realize, through hard work and struggle, that the spot she had been given was the opportunity of a lifetime. She should have realized that being considered for that lead was something she probably didn’t deserve yet. There are people with twice as much experience and training as Karen who will never land a spot in the ensemble of a Broadway show.

I loved seeing Karen get angry when she felt she was being bullied, but I wanted her to take that anger and channel it into proving that she deserved the spot in the ensemble. Instead, Karen snapped at a fellow chorus member who immediately realized the error of her ways and then they all became BFF’s and went shopping together.

There was so much juice left in the cast conflict and I felt like they wrapped it up in good times way too early in the series. Sure, her newly supportive cast mates pointed out how unprofessional Karen’s dancing and singing was, but they went from giving her the cold shoulder to hanging out and dancing in Karen’s living room. The attitude adjustment just happened too fast for me to believe.

I’m not that interested in the drama surrounding Eileen’s financial issues, but I like Eileen nevertheless. Her character oozes determination and desperation. I just wish she’d get to do something a little more interesting than sit on the verge of tears over her divorce.

I loved the scenes with Eileen and Lyle West (Nick Jonas) talking shop. He pulled off the precocious 15 year old super star character really well, so by the time they were in the back bedroom negotiating points and dollars, I had no doubt this kid had a mind for business.

Ivy’s relationship with “The Dark Lord” Derek started moving in a darker direction, which I liked. She saw Derek flirting with a woman at the Lyle West party, and told him off. In response, he shamelessly admitted that flirting was part of the business and that it was her problem if she couldn’t get used to it. “There’s nothing safe about being a star” he tells her. It didn’t sound like much of a threat, but it was enough to make Ivy feel like she was starting to lose control.

Although I’m not necessarily rooting for Ivy, she’s the most interesting character on the show right now. She has the most to lose and the farthest to fall if Marilyn: The Musical flops. The producers, the writers, the directors will all go home to their fancy apartments and go on to work on other shows, but for Ivy, it’s back to the chorus line. She’s worked for so long to finally get everything she’s wanted and she’s desperate to make sure her dreams don’t slip through her fingers.

Overall, tonight’s episode of Smash was quite a bit better than last week’s episode, but it’s still lacking the nail biting stage related drama that I want to lure me back every week. I want more than one or two rough days at rehearsal. I want Karen to be as hungry for that spot in the ensemble as Ivy Lynn is about her spot as Marilyn. I want everything to be more challenging for these characters so that when we eventually get that happy resolution, the payoff will be so much sweeter for the struggle.