in Television

3 Ways To Improve “Smash” So It Doesn’t Suck So Much


Confession time: I watch Smash. And I don’t like it.

Mainly, I use Smash for stationary biking purposes, so that I can ignore the heart pounding and leg aching. (Yeah, I know, I could bike outside, but you know what? It’s been raining a lot. And it’s cold. And the sun would probably burn my flesh.)

Smash is a show that is famous for having a fantastic pilot and then immediately going to shit afterwards, despite NBC promoting the hell out of it. Probably because they thought it was going to be their Glee (which, guess what, also turned to shit). After hate-watching season one, I was a little more interested in seeing what happened in the second, since a new show-runner came on board.

While the second season did improve the show slightly, it really didn’t get all that much better. Some of the things that really needed to go (such as not-even-love-to-hate character Ellis, and dead weight family/relationship drama) were cut, but overall the show is still as crappy as ever.

Here are a couple of thoughts I have on how to make the show not suck so much:

Get rid of Bombshell

The show was originally based around the process of getting a Marilyn Monroe musical onto Broadway. So this may seem radical to suggest, but at this point this concept is really bogging the show down.

The first season was a dramatic mess, with most of Smash’s drama coming from the producers not being able to choose their Marilyn Monroe. That mess finally seemed to be resolved when they ended up hiring “fresh-faced” Karen, played by American Idol alum Katherine McPhee, however new production drama immediately sprang up in the form of an IRS investigation.

Now that seems to have been resolved, as well. However, at this point, half of Bombshell’s cast has either quit or been fired, which comes across as absolutely ridiculous for this show. What could have been an interesting take on getting a show to Broadway has just become a contrived mess.

The argument could be made that an anchor is needed on the show, something at Smash‘s center, that everything could revolve around. I would say that Bombshell has already served this purpose, but now it’s time to look for something else. The characters all have interlocking relationships at this point; an anchor this weighted down with unnecessary drama feels pointless at this point.

This season, everything outside the “Marilyn Musical” plotline has been more interesting. Now, I’m not saying it’s been good, because come on, it hasn’t been. Not at all. But it has been better.

Get rid of Hit List

The Hit List plotline was an idea that I admired. Part of the new season shifted focus to the underdog struggle of musical writers Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan) and Kyle (Andy Mientus), trying to get their show Hit List written and noticed by producers.

While Bombshell production is frozen by the IRS, Karen comes across their musical and tries to jump-start their career using her newfound star connections.

However, the characterization of the two new guys has been horrible. Jimmy’s an entitled ass who’s poor and thinks the world owes him for it (I don’t really get how that works), while Kyle lets Jimmy walk all over him because Jimmy is “talented.”

This dynamic worked for them… sort of? I guess. Right until they inexplicably switched roles. Now Jimmy’s attempting to be the sweet guy and Kyle’s an ass and around that time I completely stopped caring. They both need to move far, far away, like to upstate New York.

Chalk this up to yet plotline this show had that could have been good, if the execution had been even remotely coherent. Smash should definitely attempt this plotline again – maybe with different characters this time around.

Focus more on Ivy

Yes, I’m sure everyone agrees with this. Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) is the best character out of the bunch. I was never on board with fans that said she should get to star in Bombshell just because she’s been acting in chorus lines for a while.

Sure, she deserved a big break, but that’s not how show business works. You don’t get famous based on some backstage time card. It takes time, of course, but also being in the right place at the right time and a myriad of other factors.

I don’t think I’d like her as much if she had it easy, though. Ivy’s interesting because she’s had to struggle and things don’t always work out for her. But she’s also strong and keeps trying, not letting anything push her down. Her perseverance is what makes her likable.

Now that I think about it, if the show centered on her with some supporting roles filled by a few of the other original characters plus some new cast members, I think this show could become a hit.

Yeah, just rename the show Smash: With Ivy Lynn. That’d solve everything.