Karen, an aspiring singer/actress portrayed by Katherine McPhee, opens the series by singing "Over the Rainbow" at an audition. McPhee famously sang this song on American Idol, typical of Smash's knowing, affectionate homages. Karen is followed by the auditioning Ivy (real-life "Broadway Baby" Megan Hilty). Both the suave brunette beauty Karen, and the petite curvaceous blonde Ivy get callbacks... and their rivalry for the Marilyn role begins! You should probably know that Karen is pretty centered and low-key while Ivy is a hot mess, loaded with low-self-esteem.
Ivy, furious that Karen stepped into the starring Marilyn role at the last minute in Boston, and after Derek spits it out in her pretty little face: "[Karen] has something you don't have!", presented Karen with the engagement ring Dev had lost in the room they shared, admitting to her revenge-sex. Karen furiously confronted a mortified Dev, broke up with the two-timing hunk, then tore off her blond Marilyn wig and ran out of the theater. "She took her wig off! In this business, that's tantamount to 'I quit,'" commented a chorus boy.
But Karen did return -- newly yielding to director Derek's touchy-feely approach.
Ivy can be bitchy, but the drama on this show mostly comes from warring personal agendas and egos. There are no villains -- except, perhaps, for Ellis (Jaime Cepero). Ellis began as personal assistant to Tom, the show's composer, then rose to assist the show's producer, Eileen, ultimately demanding to co-produce. Ellis is scheming, manipulative and uses his bisexuality to further his ambitions. He's the biggest Eve of all! He even poisoned Rebecca Duvall, hoping to get his pal, Ivy, in the Marilyn role.
Deborah Messing plays Julia, the show's lyricist. Again, her best friend is a gay man, just like on Will & Grace! Messing ain't messing around on Smash, however, playing a much more intense character and showing a lot more dramatic range. I mean, the lady has tsuris; a genuine lust for heartache! At first, her big problem was that hubby thought she was putting her career ahead of their plans to adopt (a child, that is), but then she ended up in an affair with an ex-beau who was cast as Joe DiMaggio in the musical. And her kid got into drugs. Enough already, Julia and stop Messing up your life! (Oh, but that would be so boring to watch!)
As Tom, Broadway's Christian Borle, Julia's gayest, bestest friend on the series, has made tv history, rather quietly, strangely enough, by kissing another man -- a black man! -- on the lips (passionately) more than once. Previously, Tom dated a white, Log Cabin Republican, but quickly dumped his ass as any gay man worth his salt would do. (As is my firm policy, Republicans need not apply.)
I believe I've reasonably covered all Season 1 major plot points and characters. Season 2 begins in Jan. 2013. They're bringing in a producer from Gossip Girl, so expect the fur to fly farther and for the bitch-o-meter to crank up a few notches.
And that's Smash 2012 ... according to Dj Buddy Beaverhausen.