TV: Smash Finale — “Big Finish”.

After two tumultuous seasons filled with cast and creative overhauls, dwindling ratings and a move to Saturday nights in the U.S. to really put the final nail in the coffin, Smash bid Australian audiences adieu last night on Soho.

I, for one, am sad to see Smash go as, while it certainly wasn’t the best or most cohesive show on TV, I found it immensely enjoyable to watch, partly because I’m a sucker for Marilyn Monroe and a fan of musical theatre, but also because of the melodrama and the sometimes-fantastic casting.

It’s no secret I’ve had my issues with Smash, though, namely Katharine McPhee as Karen Cartwright, whom the writers tried to shove down the audience’s throat, even more so with her star turn in Hit List in season two. Luckily, this freed the part of Marilyn Monroe up for Ivy, who should have been a shoe in for the part from get, what with her curvy frame, platinum blonde locks and knockout Broadway voice.

While there were a few problems with season one, like Julia’s family life (which was reintroduced in the final, leading me to ask, what was the point in retiring Frank and Michael Swift in the first place?), her obsession with scarves, Karen’s possessive boyfriend Dev, and psycho assistant Ellis, Gossip Girl’s Joshua Safran was brought in to replace series creator (and real life Julia Huston) Theresa Rebeck and revamp the show. He did this by dreaming up a rival musical for Bombshell: Hit List.

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“The only reason Hit List made it to Broadway was because Kyle Bishop died.”

Harsh, Ivy, but true. Kyle was one of the better new characters of season two, but he and his musical could be seen as an allegory for Smash: it was dead in the water so a second musical was introduced in an attempt to revive it.

Several of the themes and songs in Hit List centre around reinvention—“Rewrite This Story”, for example—though I’m not sure how intentional the correlation with Smash’s failure was.

And for an eventual Broadway musical driven by the meta desire to run on Broadway, Hit List has a strange obsession with MTV, fame and the VMAs, of all things. While this wasn’t revealed on the show, it did come out in a very interesting story on Vulture, which begs the question: how did a show (both Smash and Hit List) about Broadway dreams become so muddied by pop?

Safran’s former show’s influence can also be seen in Jimmy, the bad boy who just wants to make good, and Karen’s just the manic pixie (strike that; she’s far too bland to fall into that problematic category) dream girl to help him. What eventuated with Jimmy’s past harks back to Gossip Girl’s season one cliff-hanger: Serena thinks she killed someone on a drug-fuelled bender, but it all works out for the best.

Ivy also experiences a happy ending (pardon the pun) when she finally tells Derek she’s pregnant and he expresses joy at the news despite the fact that his character has been bewildered by parenthood in the past and—of course!—there’s no other option for Ivy than to go ahead with the pregnancy in the wake of her burgeoning career and Tony win. This is network TV, after all.

As for the Tony’s, which rounded out the series (sorry Safran; you didn’t make it to the VMAs like you’d hoped), Kyle took Best Book, but Best Actress, Best Musical and Best Original Score– Music And/Or Lyrics went to Bombshell, proving the Marilyn musical still reigns supreme in the short-lived world of Smash.

Related: The Problem with Smash.

Elsewhere: [The New Yorker] Farewell, Smash.

[Vulture] The Unspoken Full Plot for Smash’s Hit List Musical is Revealed.

12 Trends of 2012.

Girls (Who Run the World).

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So misogyny may be running wild in the real world, but on TV, girls are calling the shots. We’ve had a bevvy of shows with “girl/s” both in the title and the storylines this year, with 2 Broke Girls and New Girl carrying their success over from 2011. While a lot of the subject matter is problematic, both shows have women carrying the comedy. Which brings us to just plain Girls, which is the brainchild of actor, writer and director Lena Dunham. Girls is not without its problems, either, but its portrayal of young urban women is almost faultless. Rounding out the representation of leading ladies in 2012 we have Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23, Homeland, Revenge, The Mindy Project, Are You There, Chelsea?, Smash, GCB (farewell!), Scandal, Nurse JackieVeep, Emily Owens, M.D., Whitney, The Good Wife and Hart of Dixie.

“Call Me Maybe”.

Until “Gangnam Style” came along, the YouTube Zeitgeist was dominated by one runaway success: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. Justin Bieber’s protégé came out of nowhere with the catchiest song of the year, which was subsequently covered by the guys from Harvard’s baseball team, Barack Obama and the Cookie Monster! Talk about diversity!

2012: Apocalypse Now.

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2012 was the year of the apocalypse, with the 21st of December long determined by the Mayans (or Mayan conspiracy theorists) as the day the world ends. You know, until the 7th of December tried to steal its thunder as the apparent recalculated date. Apart from the natural disasters, warfare and massacres, the 21st passed without a nuclear bombing, ice age or attitudinal shift, putting rest to the apocalypse panic. Until the next rapture, anyway…

Shit ___ Say.

It started with a sexist albeit funny YouTube video of a guy in a wig quoting “Shit Girls [Apparently] Say”, which snowballed into “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls”, “Shit New Yorkers Say”, “Shit Christians Say to Jews” and “Shit Nobody Says”. Cue offence.

Snow White.

snow white kristen stewart

Snow White was everywhere this year: Mirror Mirror, Snow White & the Hunstman, Once Upon a Time… Note: overexposure isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, I hated Mirror Mirror and Once Upon a Time, and Snow White & the Huntsman was such a snooze-fest I can barely remember what happened (not including Kristen Stewart’s affair with director Rupert Sanders).

50 Shades of Grey.

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On the one hand, E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey has singlehandedly revived the flailing publishing industry, so that’s a good thing. But on the other, it has falsely lulled its legions of (mostly female) fans into a state of apparent sexual empowerment: it’s a book about sex targeted towards women, so that means we’re empowered and we don’t need feminism anymore, right?

Oh, how wrong you Anastasia and Christian fans are…

“Gangnam Style”.

The Macarena of the 21st century, Psy’s horse dance took the world by storm, being performed in conjunction with Mel B on The X Factor, with Hugh Jackman in his Wolverine gloves, on Glee and at many a wedding, 21st birthday and Christmas party.

Misogyny.

Misogyny has long been the focus of feminists, but the word and its meaning really reached fever pitch this year.

After Julia Gillard’s scathing Question Time takedown of Tony Abbott and his sexist ways, people everywhere were quick to voice their opinion on her courage and/or hypocrisy. At one end of the spectrum, it could be said that Gillard finally had enough of the insidious sexist bullshit so many women in the workforce face on a daily basis and decided to say something about it, while at the other, many argued that the Labor party were crying sexism in a bid to smooth over the Peter Slipper slip up.

Julia Baird wrote last month in Sunday Life:

“Her electric speech on misogyny in parliament went beyond the sordid political context to firmly press a button on the chest of any woman who has been patronised, sidelined, dismissed or abused. It crackled across oceans, and, astonishingly, her standing went up in the polls, defying political wisdom that no woman would benefit from publicly slamming sexism.”

Whatever the motivation behind the speech, it went viral, with Twitter blowing up, The New Yorker writing that U.S. politicians could take a page out of Gillard’s book when it comes to their legislative hatred of all things female , laypeople bringing “misogyny” into their everyday lexicon, and Macquarie Dictionary using the momentum to broaden the word’s definition.

Kony.

jason russell kony 2012

The viral doco that had millions of people rushing to plaster their neighbourhood in “Kony 2012” posters on 20th of April to little effect (the campaign’s goal was to catch Joseph Kony by years end) illustrated our obsession with social media, armchair activism and supporting the “cool” charities, not the thousands of worthy charities out there who could actually use donations to help their cause, not to produce YouTube videos and work the press circuit.

I’m Not a Feminist, But…

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While Tony Abbott is clamouring to call himself a feminist to gain electoral favour despite the abovementioned misogyny saga, it seems famous women can’t declare their anti-feminism fast enough.

First we had new mother and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer jumping at the chance to shun feminism despite the fact that without it she wouldn’t be where she is today. My favourite anti-feminist campaigner Taylor Swift said she doesn’t think of herself as a feminist because she “was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.” Um, Tay? That’s what feminism is, love.

Then there’s Katy Perry, who won’t let the whipped cream-spurting bra fool you: “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.” Right then.

Garnering less attention, but just as relevantly, was Carla Bruni-Sarkozy asserting that feminism is a thing only past generations need concern themselves with, while in an interview with MamaMia last week, Deborah Hutton also denounced her feminism.

Cronulla.

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The cronies from Sutherland Shire were all over our boxes, primarily on Channel Ten, this year. There was the widely panned Being Lara Bingle, the even worse Shire, and the quintessential Aussie drama set in the ’70s, Puberty Blues.

While these shows assisted in shedding a different light on the suburb now synonymous with race riots, it’s not necessarily a positive one, with The Shire being cancelled and Being Lara Bingle hanging in the balance.

White Girls in Native American Headdresses.

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This one really reared its racist head towards the end of the year, right around the festivities of Halloween and Thanksgiving.We had No Doubt “Looking Hot Racist” and Karlie Kloss donning a headdress for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, in addition to the cultural appropriation of VS’s “Go East” lingerie line, Gala Darling’s headdress furore and Chris Brown dressed as a Middle Eastern terrorist for Halloween.

You’d think we were heading into 1953, not 2013.

Related: Posts Tagged “New Girl”.

2 Broke Girls Aren’t So Broke That They’d Turn to Sex Work.

Posts Tagged “Girls”.

Posts Tagged “Smash”.

Feminism, Barbeque & Good Christian Bitches.

Mirror Mirror Review.

Was Kristen Stewart’s Public Apology Really Necessary?

50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James Review.

Hating Kony is Cool.

Taylor Swift: The Perfect Victim.

Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

The Dire Shire.

Shaming Lara Bingle.

Is Gwen Stefani Racist?

The Puberty Blues Give Way to Feminism.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Why We Need to Keep Talking About the White Girls on Girls.

[io9] Why is Everybody Obsessed with Snow White Right Now?

[The Age] What Women Want.

[The New Yorker] Ladylike: Julia Gillard’s Misogyny Speech.

[Jezebel] Does it Matter if Marissa Mayer Doesn’t Think She’s a Feminist?

[Jezebel] Katy Perry, Billboard’s Woman of the Year, is “Not a Feminist”.

[MamaMia] Meet the Women at Our Dinner Table: Deborah Hutton.

[Daily Life] Carla Bruni’s Vogue Interview has Rough Landing.

[Racialicious] Nothing Says Native American Heritage Month Like White Girls in Headdresses.

[Racialicious] Victoria’s Secret Does it Again: When Racism Meets Fashion.

[Jezebel] Karlie Kloss as a Half-Naked “Indian” & Other Absurdities from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

[xoJane] Fear & Loathing in the Comments Section… And Some Clarity.

[HuffPo] Chris Brown Halloween Costume: Singer Tweets Picture of Himself Dressed Up as Terrorist for Rihanna’s Party.

Images via Collider, Fox News Latino, io9, November Grey, ABC, Now Public, Ten.

TV: Has Smash Jumped The Shark With This Bollywood Number?

This post was originally published earlier in the year when Smash first aired on Foxtel’s W, now SoHo.

My reaction to the above scene is equal parts cringe and intrigue. While it could be seen to be pushing the boundaries, and it does tie in with Dev’s Indian heritage and movie star Rebecca Duvall’s racial ignorance, it could also very well be the moment when Smash jumped the shark. What do you think?

Related: Has Smash Jumped the Shark with this Bollywood Number?

The Problem with Smash.

TV: The Problem with Smash.

This post was originally published earlier in the year when Smash first aired on Foxtel’s W, now SoHo.

Smash, the Steven Spielberg-produced musical-serial about a Marilyn Monroe Broadway show, debuted with promise. I quite enjoyed the first few episodes, with Debra Messing as one of the musical’s writers, Angelica Huston as its producer, and Broadway star Megan Hilty as the number one contender for the role of Marilyn. But then Smash kind of plateaued.

Clem Bastow, writing for TheVine, seems to think it’s because of Katharine McPhee’s inclusion as the other competitor vying for the lead, and I have to agree. Bastow writes:

“The trouble with McPhee’s performance in Smash is that it jolts me out of my suspension of disbelief… [B]ut whenever Karen/Katharine opens her mouth, the fourth wall comes crashing down around me. Her voice is thin, her performance mannered, she acts with her chin like a young Gwyneth Paltrow, and self-consciously holds her mouth in such a way to suggest a very pretty female version of Jack Nicholson’s Joker.”

I’m all for Hilty’s Ivy Lynn, who’s spent ten years in the chorus and lives and breathes Marilyn through and through. But I just can’t get behind McPhee’s Karen Cartwright who, as Ivy rightfully observes, got to New York five minutes ago, hasn’t paid her dues and is already getting callbacks for lead roles. She can’t act (McPhee as Karen nor Karen as Marilyn), complains about everything and is an ineffable dolt.

But in the last few weeks, Smash has been looking up. I immensely enjoyed the episode when Ivy lost the plot after being replaced as Marilyn by Uma Thurman’s major movie star, Rebecca Duvall, and had to go back to being an angel in the chorus line of Bombshell’s (the name they’ve settled on for the fictional—but very well could be a real Broadway show if Smash’s commercial success continues—musical) writers’ other Broadway show, Heaven on Earth. Ivy loses it, mixes her throat medication with alcohol, goes on stage high, and ends up singing Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That)” with Karen in Times Square (video above. Please excuse the horrid quality, but I wanted a clip that actually showed the scene rather than just the audio).

I still can’t stand Karen and Ellis, the sneaky assistant to Huston’s Eileen and, formerly, Bombshell writer Tom Levitt but, if it’s about Marilyn Monroe, I’m willing to let Smash go out with a bang.

Are you watching Smash? What do you think of it?

Related: The Problem with Smash. 

Elsewhere: [The Vine] You Ain’t Gettin’ 88 Cents From Me, Smash.

Image via Crushable.

TV: Has Smash Jumped the Shark with This Bollywood Number?

My reaction to the above scene is equal parts cringe and intrigue. While it could be seen to be pushing the boundaries, and it does tie in with Dev’s Indian heritage and movie star Rebecca Duvall’s racial ignorance, it could also very well be the moment when Smash jumped the shark. What do you think?

Related: The Problem with Smash.

TV: The Problem with Smash.

Smash, the Steven Spielberg-produced musical-serial about a Marilyn Monroe Broadway show, debuted with promise. I quite enjoyed the first few episodes, with Debra Messing as one of the musical’s writers, Angelica Huston as its producer, and Broadway star Megan Hilty as the number one contender for the role of Marilyn. But then Smash kind of plateaued.

Clem Bastow, writing for TheVine, seems to think it’s because of Katharine McPhee’s inclusion as the other competitor vying for the lead, and I have to agree. Bastow writes:

“The trouble with McPhee’s performance in Smash is that it jolts me out of my suspension of disbelief… [B]ut whenever Karen/Katharine opens her mouth, the fourth wall comes crashing down around me. Her voice is thin, her performance mannered, she acts with her chin like a young Gwyneth Paltrow, and self-consciously holds her mouth in such a way to suggest a very pretty female version of Jack Nicholson’s Joker.”

I’m all for Hilty’s Ivy Lynn, who’s spent ten years in the chorus and lives and breathes Marilyn through and through. But I just can’t get behind McPhee’s Karen Cartwright who, as Ivy rightfully observes, got to New York five minutes ago, hasn’t paid her dues and is already getting callbacks for lead roles. She can’t act (McPhee as Karen nor Karen as Marilyn), complains about everything and is an ineffable dolt.

But in the last few weeks, Smash has been looking up. I immensely enjoyed the episode when Ivy lost the plot after being replaced as Marilyn by Uma Thurman’s major movie star, Rebecca Duvall, and had to go back to being an angel in the chorus line of Bombshell’s (the name they’ve settled on for the fictional—but very well could be a real Broadway show if Smash’s commercial success continues—musical) writers’ other Broadway show, Heaven on Earth. Ivy loses it, mixes her throat medication with alcohol, goes on stage high, and ends up singing Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That)” with Karen in Times Square (video above. Please excuse the horrid quality, but I wanted a clip that actually showed the scene rather than just the audio).

I still can’t stand Karen and Ellis, the sneaky assistant to Huston’s Eileen and, formerly, Bombshell writer Tom Levitt but, if it’s about Marilyn Monroe, I’m willing to let Smash go out with a bang.

Are you watching Smash? What do you think of it?

Elsewhere: [The Vine] You Ain’t Gettin’ 88 Cents From Me, Smash.

Image via IMDb.