Smash Notes: “The Coup”, Episode 8

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After watching episode 8 of Smash, I needed to take some time to myself and think things through. My train of thought went something like this:

“Wow, that was some bad TV. If smart, educated, trained people can produce something so rotten, then everything we think we know about everything, even and especially black holes, should be called into question.”

But today I feel like I’m ready to tackle the lukewarm mess that was “The Coup.” Here are this week’s Smash Notes:

Oh, Julia: We open on a scene of Julia (wearing some glasses she got through a Lion’s Club) eating sadness grapes in bed. She’s complaining about something. Watching Julia whine, complain and worry her way through this season while living in a fabulous brownstone and working on frickin’ Broadway has made me never want to take anything in my life for granted ever again.

Her handbag costs more than the Blue Book value for my car.

Then, hubby sings to her while playing one of those stupid “I’m With The Band” video games. I bet that affair is looking pretty good to Julia in the rear view mirror. She’s eating grapes, peering at her husband through those glasses thinking, “I made a mistake.”

Later on, we see her being a total bitch to the judge presiding over her son’s case, or whatever the hell it is, which was for smoking ganja in a park but got reduced to walking on the grass. Although Julia should be relieved she instead becomes riled and yells at the judge. Later, after her son has been cleared of all charges, she says, “I’m not ungrateful.”

Oh, Julia.

But there’s more! In court the ethnic necklace is back again and then, at the production meeting, she wears sunglasses again! Inside. Every staff meeting she wears dark glasses. The glasses are a signifier that she’s UPSET.

Clearly Debra Messing came up with this idea on her own and thinks it adds to her character:

“Hey, guys? What if… I’m just thinking out loud here… What if, whenever Julia’s upset or has been treated badly at work, she shows up to meetings in sunglasses as big as her head and doesn’t take them off? Wouldn’t that tell the audience what I can’t convey with my limited facial expressions?”

Do-Gooders: Eileen has a daughter, everyone, and you’re not going to like her very much. See, she hangs out in a third world country (Apparently, she was so upset over the richness of her parents that she had to flee to Micronesia), volunteering. Yep. The only reason she came home was because she perceived that her father was being mean to her mother. Her spidey senses started to tingle she got $3 million dumped into her trust fund (hooray! rice for everyone in the village for 200 years!) by her dad and she knew that meant it was $3 million her mom wouldn’t get. So she put on her superhero cape and flew halfway around the world.

Daughter proceeds to walk through the episode lecturing everyone about goodness, which is a lot easier to do when you have $3 million in a bank account and your job is to go wherever “goodness” takes you, especially if that means going to Alaska to count salmon. She did not offer to give her mother the $3 million, by the way.

My favorite scene was when Eileen came home one day to discover that her daughter had totally decorated her loft in ethnic fabrics and faux-artifacts. She was placing a last giant, wooden bowl on a table, not a hint of perspiration on her brow.

“This is how I see you!” she tells her mother about the decor. “I see you living in the clearance aisle at a Home Goods, wrapping yourself in ethnic prints left over from last year’s failed outfits at Chico’s!”

“Wonderful!” says the mother.

Marilyn Monroe, Misconceptions & Preconceived Notions & Balls: Marilyn Monroe is definitely a polarizing figure, for whatever reason. To be honest, I’ve never thought much of her one way or the other.  I’m not Against Marilyn, just disinterested. But the characters on this show are really hung up on Honoring Marilyn, Doing It For Marilyn, Creating a Marilyn For a New Generation… At one point the director asks Tom, the composer, if he really “has the balls” to make Marilyn what it needs to be.

Let me get this straight: A Broadway director is asking a (gay) Broadway composer if he has the balls to make a show about Marilyn Monroe what it needs to be? My God, this is Marilyn Monroe, not Stonewall Riots: The Musical!

This question was also coming from the guy who just wasted a lot of time crafting a new, unwanted song for Marilyn that might best be described as Marilyn: The Rave Years, in which Karen performed wearing a silky sheet, on a rotating bed, while being menaced by men in Jason masks. In other words, a J. Lo video.

[Note: at one point one of the masked men menaces The Good Daughter, who came to watch with Eileen, and she looks angry.]

If we as a pop culture ever wonder out loud whatever happened to Katharine McPhee, we only have to queue up this clip to find our answer.

BTW, this song is what made Julia so upset that she had to wear her sunnies to the staff meeting. I also want to mention, apropos of nothing, that during the bed-singing debacle Julia was wearing a full-length leather skirt.

Bowling Alley Fever Dream: Let’s just pretend the scene in which the dancers go bowling, break into song and start dancing down the bowling alley never happened. And let’s pretend that the song didn’t start with a zoom-shot on one of the dancer’s asses.

You’re Fired: Both Michael the Philandering, Would-Be Joe DiMaggio and Ivy got the ax. Michael got the ax at a city park, where he met Julia with his family in tow, who are suddenly the most important thing in the world to him. Julia watches him go over to the slide to help his little boy slide down, then kiss his wife.

She’s clearly thinking about  her own husband singing Bob Marley with a toy guitar.

Best Line: Tom to director, Derek: “That critic was in your pocket. Or maybe he was in your father’s pocket. Everyone knows he was having sex with your father!”

So… there’s that, just sort of lying there, if you’re remotely interested.

P.S. Dereks’ father is not on the show nor has he ever been mentioned before. But do I smell a guest star appearance by Nathan Lane as the sassy, brassy Broadway director? One can only dream.