Look, I get that the people working on Smash don’t like Teresa Rebeck, but in working out those issues through their writing, they’ve managed to create a show void of any strong female character. And as fun as that is, perhaps it’s time to reign in the rage.
This week Julia was subjected to more condescending humiliation from Peter in the form of having snotty college kids dissect her play, cleverly disguised as “Mary”. Julia, who usually takes criticism so well, did not take kindly to the ambush and retaliated like a 5 year-old; reading Peter’s one and only play and ripping it to pieces. Julia was never the most likeable character, even when she was written by her real world alter ego, but since she’s been taken over by other writers the problem has escalated. It gets uncomfortable when you realize that this (delusional, stubborn, needs to be rescued from her own inadequacies by a man) woman is based on a person the remaining crew has openly admitted to despising. It seems mean and unnecessary (and demeaning considering this chauvinistic behavior will likely be rewarded with Julia sleeping with him).
So, what does the all-knowing dramaturg decide is the revolutionary new direction Bombshell should take? It should all be told from the men’s perspective because Marilyn was only ever defined by the men she was with. How fresh and exciting! I seem to recall a time when the point of Marilyn! The Musical was to finally give a voice and treat her with the respect so she rarely received in life and in death. But that’s really hard, guys, so let’s just continue to depict her as an object like everyone else.
It not surprising though, because that’s just the way it is in Smashland. All the women are merely there for the men; to make them feel superior or to inspire them (just like the new direction Bombshell is taking! The layers in this thing, guys. Like seriously). Karen, resident muse to all the douchy boys, is working overtime, serving as muse Derek in his sexified reimagining of Ronnie, Broadway’s wonder kid (even if she is clearly approaching 30) and to moody Brooklynite, Jimmy. When Derek realized that his slutty version of Ronnie could never be realized while she belted out Broadway standards, Karen immediately called the only two people capable of writing a raw song and because Jimmy and Kyle have nothing to do but wait around for Karen to give them a career, they hurried on over.
Jimmy was having trouble coming up with song equally Broadway and still acceptable to be “the new Rent” (which, believe it or not was on Broadway… like ten years ago), but one tiny suggestion from Karen (“the note should go down at the end, not up” brilliant composing, Karen) and the hit just flows out of him. Unfortunately Derek was in one of his moods and didn’t even want to hear it. So then Jimmy and Derek engaged in a primitive ritual known as a douche off, and it appeared that Derek won because Jimmy ran off to get high on ecstasy. Of course, in the end they both got their way; Ronnie tramped it up Fosse rip-off style and Jimmy’s song brought the house down (and he got to make out with Karen, which I guess is supposed to mean they like each other, but from what I hear, you like everyone on ecstasy). So the lesson of this week, kids; girls don’t matter and douchebags always win.
But even with all their pouting and tantrum throwing, Derek and Jimmy weren’t the biggest douchebags of the night. That honor goes to Jerry who revealed himself to be the moustache twisting, cackling in the shadows villain we’ve always wanted him to be. Turns out, all the misfortunes of Bombshell (besides its bad story, questionable songs, and mediocre star) can be laid at his feet along with the help of his trusty sidekick, dun dun DUN… Ellis! Yes, the eaves dropping extraordinaire was mentioned for the first time this season and it was revealed that all his lurking in the shadows and mixed loyalties were at the behest of Jerry, determined to prove his ex-wife can’t produce without him. Yeah, more misogyny! Jerry told Ellis he never wanted to hear from him again (and that will probably work out since the actor was fired), but I think the series is much more fun if every scene you imagine Ellis just beyond the doorway. collecting secrets and waiting for the opportune time to poison a smoothie.