(Blog owner's note: My wife says I've been preoccupied, but apparently she's been preoccupied herself since rewatching the entire season of Smash already this summer. I've offered her the platform of this blog to get some things off her chest.)
I don’t believe in the talent-driven system. As far as I’m concerned it’s a myth that we share with others to promote hard work and persistence – it’s the Santa Claus of the creative world.
|Cute braids require long hair, |
not a mullet.
The central conflict of the story is the competition between two actors for the role of Marilyn in Marilyn! The Musical. (Technically the fictional title is Bombshell. But I think Marilyn! The Musical is catchier. Don’t you?) Karen is just off the bus from Iowa. She’s naïve and starry eyed and just wants you to let her be your star. We’re told repeatedly that she is very, very talented. In contrast, Ivy comes from a musical theater family. Her mother is played by Bernadette Peters (who seems to be playing Patti Lupone) and Mama is an established, Broadway Phenom. Ivy has spent years working in the chorus of different Broadway shows, but has yet to break out. Luckily for her, one of her best buds is writing the music for Marilyn! the Musical and he thinks she’d be perfect as Marilyn. She, too, just wants to be given the chance to be your star.
The show has painted some stereotypes a bit thickly. Karen is sweet and refuses to do anyone dirty to get the part. Ivy is cynical and ruthless enough to do whatever it takes. We see this in the second episode where both women are invited to sleep with the director. Karen walks out. Ivy starts taking her clothes off.
|Karen on the left.|
Ivy on the right.
Who's more Marilyn?
In reading reviews of the show’s season finale, most of the critics have been scathing in denouncing the director’s choice. Mostly because in comparing the two performances throughout the season, Megan Hilty, who plays Ivy, seems to be the more talented than Katherine McPhee, who plays Karen. In reality, they lament, she would be the one who would get the part. But she wouldn’t. That’s my point. In TV, film, and theater, the part goes to the one who fits the director’s vision, not to the one who out-Stanislavskied everybody else.
|Who writes this movie if not for|
one lucky man?
In another example, a few years ago NBC’s summer reality show, Last Comic Standing made the news because its celebrity judges (including Drew Carey) walked out of the final episode in protest over the announced finalists. They publicly complained that the people standing on the stage were not the people that they had picked as the funniest comedians. The producers of the show ignored the expert judging they had recruited in favor of fulfilling their vision of who should win.
It’s a hard fact. Talent isn’t a ticket to anything except frustration and grief unless it’s paired with luck, connections, or a pretty face. So to Brent and the rest of the world, I say publish or perish. If the internet is the only connection you have, then use it. Fifty Shades of Grey is a small price to pay if the internet also reveals another Shakespeare--or Depeche Mode.
P.S. Brent thinks it’s very important that I disclose that he’s never watched an episode of Smash. Perhaps this is why he still believes in fairy tales of talent.