TV Review: Smash (***1/2)

smash1If there’s one thing I won’t be able to stress enough about the new Broadway drama hit Smash, is that it’s well, a smash. Many may be hesitant towards watching the show because they may think it’s similar to Glee, but trust me, the only similarity is the music, but even that’s better than Glee.

When two Broadway producers struggle to figure out the story for their next Broadway hit, an eager intern suggests a musical featuring the life of Marilyn Monroe. Hesitant at tackling such a major topic after there last attempt on the subject matter failed, original music, a dazzling script, a cocky director, and the right cast almost makes the show work as a great musical.

The story of Smash revolves around the making of the Marilyn project, in which there is always a lot of tension and plenty of problems. Problems begin early on when executive producer, Eileen (Anjelica Houston) goes through a nasty divorce and doesn’t have the funding to back the Marilyn project. More problems arise when talented director, Derek Willis (Jack Davenport) is hired. Despite his talent, he and writer Tom (Christian Borle) have a bad history which causes plenty of tension, especially when it comes to making decisions and giving criticism.

When auditions begin for Julia (Debra Messing) and Tom’s Marilyn project, the fight for Marilyn lies between two struggling actresses. Ivy Lynn, (Megan Hilty) a big shot, curvy blonde, who on the outside seems to be the obvious choice for Marilyn, desperately wants the part. After spending years as the member of the ensemble, Ivy will do anything to play Marilyn. Karen Cartwright, (Katherine McPhee) a down to earth, thin brunette, with all the talent necessary to be a big star on Broadway, struggles to find her place when producers notice she doesn’t have experience on stage. But the creators of Marilyn can’t help but notice the strength in her voice out ways her weak resume.

smash2The beauty of Smash is how realistic it remains. They show you the inner workings of Broadway, from having to pay your dues to putting your heart and soul into a show that may never been seen if people don’t invest in it. Each characters life has something the audience can relate to, many can relate to the struggle to want something so badly and doing whatever it takes to get it.  This is a show portraying the real lives these Broadway honchos live. We are shown a struggling marriage, an affair, the stresses involved in putting together a show, an actress fighting to make her break and an actress fighting to stay in the spotlight. Each story is different and intriguing; it never fails to lose your attention.

One of the shows stronger qualities is the obvious stellar cast that includes Anjelica Huston and Debra Messing, but the breakout star of Smash is American Idol veteran, Katherine McPhee. In every scene she manages to stay on par with the more experienced actors, yet steals the spotlight with her amazing voice and her deep and subtle want to be a star. Megan Hilty also shows that she can keep up with the rest of the pack when her character is put through the added pressure of trying to remain in the spotlight and not fall behind after years of being in the chorus. I have to admit though, when she sings, you stop what you’re doing and listen. The show has been picked up for a second season, but if it manages to become a success, both Hilty and McPhee’s involvement in this show will catapult their careers.

Debra Messing as Julia, is a character we haven’t seen her play before. Many may only see Messing as her spunky character from Will & Grace, but in Smash she is the polar opposite of her famous TV persona Grace. Messing is the type of actress you adore right away, but you won’t feel that way watching her play Julia. Messing is fantastic along with the always brilliant Huston. Look out Emmy’s, you’ve got two major contenders right here.

The only mistake you can make is not watching Smash. I understand that many may stay away from it because you think it’s another musical TV show like Glee. But trust me, it’s nothing like Glee. Glee tends to focus more on humor, sending a message and the music than story, but Smash focuses more on the story and characters than outrageous random song and dance numbers. The singing and dancing is almost always kept in the making of Marilyn. There are rarely random moments of song, but when it happens, it makes sense to the story and character. Smash always manages to remain mature, realistic and entertaining in every episode. Again, the biggest mistake you make is avoiding Smash because you think it’ll be too similar to Glee. I can’t express to you in proper words without cursing how much I love and enjoy Smash. I’m hooked.

So, watch Smash, it is the new biggest show on television and I can guarantee as long as the show never loses its quality it’ll be around for a few seasons. Especially since the writers set it up nicely stating it will take three years for the Marilyn project to be made. Yay! But my question isn’t how long the show will last, but who will end up playing Marilyn? Watch and find out!

Watch Smash Monday nights on NBC at 10pm ET.

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Written by Anna Young

I’ve grown up always being able to share my love of film with others. What makes it particularly important to me is that my passion started with my parents and my best friend Caitlin. Whether it has been spending the whole day at the theater with my parents, or sitting on the floor of a movie store for hours with Caitlin, this love of mine has always been a huge part of who I am. This love affair has been going strong for over a decade. My name is Anna and I’m in love with film.

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