Smash: Ivy Method Acts, Karen Smarmy and Anjelica Houston Should Have Been In Mummy
What I love most about Smash is how I am 99% certain that Anjelica Houston just thinks she is starring in a documentary about herself.
I bet at the end of every shooting day, she is genuinely puzzled when the crew packs up and she is all “No one desires to film my evening ablutions? I’ve purchased a new floor length twirling robe!” and then when they all sort of freeze in the hopes that if they remain motionless she will not see them, much like T-Rex before her, she just sort of sighs, gives up, and goes home and twirls all on her lonesome.
When the episode opens, we are treated to the sight of Anjelica Houston Trying To Use A Computer – which in and of itself is a task worthy of notice and why a documentary about her life and times should very much be made. She spends roughly thirty minutes attempting to log in quietly mumbling incantations under her breath, a shot the camera captures from just outside the office, as though they afraid she will suddenly look up and take notice, and the thought scares them. This is a choice I approve.
Watching her type is like watching a lion playfully disembowel an elephant. Circle of life! Intestinal linguine! But alas, her appetite cannot be sated, and while we are served yet another reminder as to why Ms. Houston is the only woman on the planet who should ever share a tress style with Cleopatra (comin’ atcha!) we are also treated to the news that her horrific assistant has fled to the fancy new sports car providing Jerry McExhusband! Houston is livid. She is so angry she eats her phone. Then Ellis, he of the schemes and insouciant forehead curl, appears with a book for Ms. Houston. It is Amun Ra, the Book Of The Dead, and with it, Anjelica can summon the spirit of her murdered love, the princess Anaksunamun (ooooh my god I spelled that correctly on the first try!)
But before this can be accomplished, she must harass the world’s worst playwright, Debra Messing. The evil assistant with the perfect hair and penchant for vests soothes Houston’s rage, mentally making a note to quit being Tom’s assistant and take over for Anjelica’s easily swayed former minion.(I mean, right? That will happen, yeah? And who can blame them! Sit around and be spray stale urine in the face by Debra Messing, world’s living cat anus, or throw drinks at every man who’s done us wrong with JelJel? The answer, my friends, is an obvious one.)
Anjelica is right to worry about the script for, you know, the play she banged a Jonas Brother for. Because it doesn’t exist. Instead of existing, we have a handful of songs that sound the same and prominently feature a lot of people propping up a squealing Megan Hilty. Honestly, I think the script reads thusly:
(The dancers throw MARILYN into the air:)
Hussabubba wubba clubba feeeeemur feeeeeemur feeeeeemur giga ho ho burrrrrrbeell!
(The dancers may or may not catch MARILYN.)
Twelve days from opening and we have a show that could conceivably be a solo performance piece for the Snuggle Bear. This is far from good. It doesn’t seem to be worrying Debra Messing, World’s Worst Playwright though! Here is the list of things she did this week instead of writing a play script:
- Troll Etsy for “cute but ugly” scarves.
- Shipped her husband off to California. For a teacher’s retreat. Yeah. If Teacher Retreat means Swinger’s Getaway.
- Ate all of Michael Swift’s whipped cream – FIGURATIVELY, YOU PERVERTS
- Claimed to have written three scenes.
- Blatantly lied about having written three scenes – I mean seriously, if your actor comes to you and asks you about plot points and you parrot the idea of ‘big picture’ and ‘themes’ back him – YOU HAVE NOT WRITTEN SCENES (And if this happens – you send him immediately to your director. Because explaining this shit is not your job.) I would also like to tell all straight male actors out there that the way to get into the pants of the lady-writer who has cast you is to DO A GOOD JOB. Strangely, if you criticize her, she is less likely to want to bed you….idiot.
- Shopped at Trader Joe’s.
- Ignored a call from her incarcerated son. Oh yeah. No big deal.
- Was a bitch too everyone.
- Sat around rehearsal like she had a reason to be there. You guys, I have a hard time being at rehearsal when it is for a play script I have spent YEARS on, but this bitch is all, ‘My opinion on these dance moves are integral!’ Note to self: try this next time play is produced. Bonus points if play is not musical.
- Kissed a kinda drunk Michael Swift in my neighborhood. That is not a nickname for his anatomy. I legitimately live near her fake house.
Such was the intel Ellis provided Miss Houston. Sadly she was asleep for the duration, leaving Ellis to continue to cast spells quietly on his imaginary cat and pretend girlfriend. His goal? To continue to weave strife on the tiny island of Manhattan – and such strife did he weave!
Firstly, we aided and abetted middle American’s distaste for gay sex! It’s okay to have a television show about musical theatre, it’s okay for a gay character to be on the show, it’s even okay for that gay character be set up on a date – but the moment sex is attempted, it must be awful, it must be wretched – it must be a punchline. STAY CLASSY, SMASH! Although Tom and Bad Sex are doomed as a couple, Bad Sex makes one hell of an argument against anyone who might think homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to parent by getting his LAWYER ON and getting Debra Messing’s homely son out of jail. (He was tossed in for hanging out with some peeps smoking pot from a vaporizer. Which, PS, are his friends middle aged and suffering from glaucoma? WHEN DID A BLUNT BECOME NOT ENOUGH?)
If this wasn’t proof enough for the crazies, the boy’s straight mom didn’t even make it to the jail because she was too busy contemplating infidelity. I’m no parent, but I’m pretty sure when your cellphone rings, it doesn’t matter if it’s blocked – you answer. DEBRA MESSING WHY ARE YOU SO UNLIKEABLE ON THIS SHOW?! She then decided to sit down and really try to figure out a way to make the Marilyn story interesting, to distinguish her from her string of lovers and sex appeal – PSYCH – instead she spends the rest of the episode grilling her son about his pot use and telling him if she can’t adopt a baby it is his fault – then, to make sure she really nails down the whole Worst Mom Ever award, she makes sure to make out with Michael Swift on the stoop where her homely son can see. As one story begins, another remains tragically unwritten.
The real highlight of the episode? MEGAN EFFIN’ HILTY, Y’ALL! She is caving and bowing to pressure which her dick salt boyfriend cum (heh) director keeps throwing her way. When Hilty is rehearsing the show’s latest song, he cuts her off and makes Katharine McPhee and her pool ball shoulders trill Happy Birthday a la Marilyn and then instructs Ivy TO GO TAKE LESSONS FROM KAREN. Somewhere Anjelica Houston quietly murmurs, “Oh snap,” and to that, I somberly nod my head in agreement. Then, something sort of lovely and dangerous and wonderful happens – rather than be the straight up bitch queen she has been up until now, Ivy takes the class, and succinctly puts Karen and her dumb face in her place: she may be being poked and prodded and pushed and tested but she won the role, and she’s got the talent – Ivy knows her worth and for one little second we believe it. And also wonder where she buys her bras. And also how awkward it is on set to pretend that Katharine McPhee is anywhere NEAR as talented a performer. THERE. I SAID IT.
Being thrown such shade, Katharine McPhee is left with no option other to own her sexuality by ruminating on sexy Jack Davenport’s inappropriate attention to her, and the trampy dress her boyfriend – suddenly a minor character on the Wire‘s CW cousin for some reason? – wants her to wear to a fancy dinner. He trots off so as not to be late and Karen, having expressed her frustration with Ivy for being false and using her sex appeal in a manipulative way – strips off all her clothes and sings about how it is a man’s world. She ends, legs around a chair murmuring that she too knows what she brings to a party. Leaving me to be all, ‘No Karen. You bring SOMETHING ELSE, not what Ivy brings – finish the train of thought to its logical conclusion!” But instead of doing this Karen visually fellates some dude in competition with Dev and gets info out of him for her man. Because THAT’S what sexuality’s all about – doing shit you aren’t comfortable with to gain the approval of your man. This was an annoying disconnect. It’s so much more interesting to think of Karen as a character who wields her naivete and prudishness as a deft weapon – one just as dangerous and manipulative as Ivy’s boobs – but in an entirely different way.
Ivy’s stunning moment of pure anger and confidence is proved to be the proverbial fuzzy end of the lollipop when Ivy shows up drunk at Derek’s house being all “Why Derek? Whhhhy?” and when he gives her a carbon copy of last week’s speech: “This is the business. I love my art. Separate the personal and professional.” She forgives him and sleeps with him. Girl, can’t you flex the same diva muscle on your manwich? Can’t you scare him a little? Can’t you see how not-so-secretly-repelled and drawn he is to you SOLELY WHEN YOU ARE WOUNDED? That is messed up! Also this week I was pretty sure that Jack Davenport was genuinely drunk for the entire episode. This week we were supposed to finally catch a glimpse of Derek the artist – but pitting women against each other and writing some notes late at night are just convincing me that he’s Iago, who is awesome, but not, like a reputable theatrical director like say, Sam Mendes.