“You were wrong, David. You were wrong about everything!”
That was the pronouncement made by my younger daughter as the final credits rolled for the season finale of the TV series Smash on Monday night. What I was wrong about, specifically, were my predictions about the show’s story arc. To be fair, my guess was made after the first or second week, when I saw a lot of potential in the various elements and couldn’t imagine the show would get almost instantly stupid.
I was not an actual fan of the show, though something more than a casual viewer. Apparently there’s a love-to-hate contingent out there but I never really followed the armchair quarterbacking that has become almost de rigueur of any TV series these days. But given the scope of what the show set out to accomplish — a backstage story of the creation of a Broadway show — I didn’t feel it was out of line for me to expect something more than a fifteen week version of an old MGM musical.
So what did I expect? I expected that they wouldn’t tease out the lead for the show-within-a-show all the way up to the very end; I thought they were going to stumble with funding and lose the director back to his old show, taking the rising star with him (his Eliza Doolittle as it were); that Smash would become a show about two separate shows with torn allegiances going up against each other, each becoming competitive in their successes; that the finale would involve the Tony awards where the two battling leading ladies were up against each other and when they announced the winner… fade to black, see you next season!
What we got was a very drawn out process of a show in workshop that was held together with preposterous sub-plots. The adoption of a Chinese baby, by the least realistic family on TV (and a teen son who was unarguably the show’s worst actor); the constant need to give the competing leads opportunities to sing popular songs to fill in for true emotions in storytelling; a determined producer whose lines were clearly written by a computer sampling dialog from old movies and phoned in by a sleepwalking actress… and in the end the show barely-but-miraculously makes it through its out-of-town previews with hints of Pregnancy! Suicide! Divorce!
How could I have expected anything more from TV?
So I won’t return to Smash for its second season, and maybe one day someone will develop the backstage drama worthy of Broadway that is also quality television.
Until then there’s always Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz.