RECAP: Smash - The Gentleman Prefers A Blonde


By Jon Roth

A makeover, a model student, and a Manhattan to the face.

What a week it’s been on the Great White Way, showgirls and boys. Hearts were broken. Drinks were thrown. Chinese babies were loved, lost, and loved again. At least we know which girl will play Marilyn on Broadway! Right?

I suspect every episode is going to kick off with a musical number, and we’ll spend the first two minutes trying to figure out why it’s relevant. This time around, dear chirpy Karen Cartwright (McPhee) is singing “Call Me” to a packed house of boyfriends and bosses. Everyone is sitting rapt and silent at her performance (our first indicator that this is either a dream sequence or that restaurant from Shame) and sure enough, Karen snaps out of it when her Sensible Coworker reminds her that uh, she’s at work. Go work, Karen. 

Turns out she’s staging performances in her head because she’s waiting for the Marilyn team to call her (get it?) and let her know about the role. Across town, the assorted masterminds behind the production are having their quiet cabal in Eileen’s sumptuous office. Who’s the better Marilyn? Bosomy Ivy or birdlike Karen? Director Derek thinks Karen “Feels like Marilyn...” which main gay Tom finds a suspect turn of phrase. “Straight men are gonna go there,” Derek answers. Did you hear? Derek is straight.

Outside the office, their assistant Bruno Mars has his ear glued to the door. So trustworthy, that one.

Speaking of Julia, things hit a bit of a snag with her adoption plan when she and her husband Adam Carolla (not really) stop by the adoption office. Turns out they have to wait two years before they find a baby to adopt from China. Julia gasps and hubby makes an effort to raise those bushy eyebrows. “Two years?!” they ask incredulously. Did they think they could make a jaunt down to Chinatown and become new parents before rush hour?

In the first round of callbacks, Derek wants to see whether Karen can dance. They begin working in the studio, and as Derek takes her through the motions, he’s holding her so tightly I’m guessing he’s got a good sense of what her spleen feels like. Maybe they should have hired a less lecherous director. Great accent, though.

Tom and Julia are back at Tom’s lavish pad reimagining the “Let Me Be Your Star” number from the pilot. Julia closes her eyes and BAM - there’s Karen, singing on the Broadway stage as Norma Jean, then there’s Ivy doing the same thing, then there’s... Bruno, bursting the bubble and asking who they’re going to cast in the damn role. 

This kid is insufferable, but he’s got a point. We can’t watch this show indefinitely without knowing the lead. Still, Julia tells him to go pick up some dry cleaning, so he walks outside and leans against the door again (which is surprising, because at this point I figured he had the whole apartment bugged with spare iPhones).

When Ivy shows up at rehearsal, Derek introduces her to Karen. Ivy pulls a​ page right of Regina George’s playbook and compliments Karen’s scarf. Karen gets all gawky and down-home and explains her mother bought it for her, to which Ivy replies: “Cute.” I can’t wait until we’re in episode five and they’re poisoning each other’s stage make-up instead of relying on passive aggression.

Over in Julia’s Park Slope manse, it turns out her husband thinks they need to think “realistically” about this adoption. I would agree, considering they had no sense of the time frame. He explains that he’ll be 65 when their daughter graduates high school, at best. As opposed to 63, if you had a daughter tomorrow? Weak argument, pops.