Smash Review: Has the Real Marilyn Arrived?

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"The Movie Star" arrives to save the show ... and she can't sing! What?

That's just crazy, right? Eileen just took the word of her agent?!? For the musical, that was a problem, but for Smash, Rebecca Duvall's arrival brought smiles and laughs to the drama.

Her rendition of "Let Me Be Your Star" was horrendous. All Tom and Julia could say was "great" -- ha! And even that single word pained them. At least they didn't resort to Julia's suggestion of "group suicide."

Uma Thurman As Rebecca Duvall

The big question of how Ivy would be brought back into the fold was answered. Due to Rebecca's less than stellar beginning, they wanted their second backup right away, especially since their understudy is the very green Karen. I'm enjoying the growing friendship between Karen and Ivy. No one else understands what they are each going through better than the other. Going forward, they would benefit more from a friendship than viewing the other as a threat and an enemy. Since the pilot, I've been a fan of Karen's but recently, Ivy has grown on me.

She came into the production a diva, left the show disgruntled and bitter, but has returned a happier and friendlier Ivy. This Ivy is someone I want to root for to regain the role of Marilyn. She has shown she is talented and now she is beginning to show that she can be a star.

But, for now, Bombshell's Marilyn is Rebecca. She arrived confident and made herself known on arrival. Yet what initially appeared to be her testing or questioning the producers, writers and directors really was her trying to adjust the show to her strengths. She recognized her own weaknesses, but then eventually the strength of the show as it was.

At first, I was confused by her shift in attitude from the rehearsals and asking for rewrites to her acceptance of the script. In the end, at the group "pow-wow," she showed she is a professional. She pointed out a song that she couldn't sing, the octave that fit her voice the best, and acknowledged her need for a voice coach. At that point, she proved herself a team player.

While Rebecca was brought in for her movie star status, she ended up being much less of a diva than Ivy. She also had much less stage presence than either Ivy or Karen. To fill the seats, unfortunately they feel they need a big name, rather than a merely talented one.

Rebecca can sing and performed "Dig Deep" well, but she didn't have the appeal of Ivy or even Karen. That almost seemed by design, as her outfit for that number was almost frumpy and not sexy at all. Her voice was fine, but didn't have the depth of Ivy or Karen's.

The true test will be when we hear her take on tracks that Ivy and Karen have already performed. Will she be able to stand up to the high level that they have set or come even close? While it seems that Rebecca has locked the role, there is still a long way to go.

Besides, Derek keeps seeing Karen as Marilyn. What is up with that? Did Derek hit his head? Seriously, what the heck is up with him seeing Karen as Marilyn? Last week, I didn't mention it, because I figured it was a one-time thing. But this was over-the-top. An imagined song and performance? And in front of Ivy? Hmm ... what does it mean? I have no idea. It comes across as a poorly used mechanism for getting another song into the show. I doubt it will be the last time, either.

I wasn't expecting to like the arrival of Rebecca based on the previews, but it exceeded my expectations. Her character brought some much needed humor to offset some of darkness happening outside of the musical.


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 (68 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


I really love Karen out of the rest especially Rebecca! Smash is a smash hit and I love watching it. However I have a few other shows that come on during the PrimeTime slot. Since I got the Hopper from my job at Dish I no longer have to worry about scheduling conflicts! So I can watch all my PrimeTime shows.


I've been watching "grownup glee" since the beginning. In response to some of these comments: I think the actor who plays Karen's boyfriend is terrific but this is not a good role for him, they have no chemistry at all. Derek keeps seeing Karen in hallucinations because he is a powerful man who thinks he can get all the women he wants; he thinks his genius gives him permission to be slutty. He has a deep conflict between his natural cut-throat impulses and his
better instincts. As for those people who don't like Eileen's new boyfriend or
Tom's make-out scenes: this is a show for adults in the 21st century. There are gay people in the world, and love and happiness are not just for the
under-30 crowd. Get over it. I am going to keep watching this show-- I love
the cast, the musical numbers and the plot lines, even if some of them are
far-fetched. After all, I watch glee and root for klaine so I am used to
being tortured....


Uma Thurman will not be the final "Marilyn" when the show opens on Broadway or will only be in the show for a limited time. Maybe we will see the final musical with three actresses playing the part at different stages of Marilyn. Uma might be near the end. Karen and Dev were the perfect couple, but in a "Star is Born" formula we find Karen on her way up and Dev hitting career bumps. Ivy is being less of a bitch and more a team player. She is developing into a more rounded and likable person. The show will be back as NBC needs a hit. I wish Pan Am were coming back too.


@Terrie - Nick's purpose is that he gave Eileen $$$ to produce BOMBSHELL. Without him and his friend, she would have been at the mercy of the other investors who were more loyal to her estranged husband. It remains to be seen, though, if Eileen's switch to new Broadway investors was worth it because of Nick's ties to criminals. Money laundering is not the best source of funds. I think she was foolish to accept all that money without any research or legal advice. Where were the lawyers?


Part II...Karen needs to dump Dev. He's a self-pitying anchor dragging her down along with every scene he is in. The actor is good. But, the character is superfluous and redundant. "You care about your career more than me." Goodness, what a whiner....why did he even get involved with someone w/show business dreams if he can't be mature about it. Exit stage right, please! My interpretation of Derek's daydreams of Karen as Marilyn is that it's a takeoff on how fans saw MM herself. Everyone projected their own stereotypes on to her, ignoring the real person w/real problems. Evidently, Derek has pigeonholed Karen into the "innocent but sexy" slot ever since she refused to sleep with him. People always seem to fixate on those they can't have, or those who have something they want. Maybe, in Karen's case, she possesses a few morals and standards that Derek gave up long ago.


It's interesting reading comments on SMASH from people who know Marilyn Monroe only from still photos, apparently. The way Rebecca was dressed during the "Dig Deep" number is the way MM dressed during her time at the Actors Studio, studying w/Lee Strasberg. She didn't wear her "movie star" costume because she wanted to blend in and be a student like all the other actors in class. She was already famous and spent a year studying Method acting to help her confidence and conquer her stage fright. Enjoyed this episode! The reviewer is jumping to the conclusion, though, that Rebecca is a "team" player and not a diva. Ha! Eileen already predicted the outcome in her dialogue. Top stars don't get there, and stay there, by playing ball. They change the game to their advantage so they are seen in the best possible light. Rebecca has the power to do that, and she's using it. Can't you tell the difference? She's only "helping" the show in the ways it will help her the be continued above


Homophobia rears it's ugly head again! Funky blue...get over it! This is part of the show, when you have a gay character on then you will be seeing them in relationships, I met money that if it was a lesbian and you saw 2 girls kissing you would be cheering!

Sarah silva

I think the significance of Derek seeing Karen as Marilyn is that he sees her as the actual Marilyn Monroe, they have said many times that Marilyn was naive and "green" and sweet etc all the things they have said that Karen is. So I am thinking that SHE will be Marilyn they will fire Rebecca and Karen will get the role!

Sarah silva

I used to like Dev but not anymore, Karen has gone to many functions for Dev's work, so she knows his job is important and well she may not have said right away last week that she would move anywhere with him, Dev should not have asked her to give up the musical for him, he is the one that does not understand or think that her dream/career is important. He will cheat on Karen and make it out to be her fault. Karen did not sleep with Derek as she has morals and did not want to get the role that way, but Dev will not think twice about hopping into bed with RJ.
I think I will like Tom and Sam together, Sam will good for him if Tom has not had a long term relationship taking it slow will be good.
Poor Leo, I feel bad for him, being a child of divorce I know it can be hard and each child deals with it differently. Next week when he runs away from home will be pretty tense, I hope he will be alright, however I have this gut feeling that he will not be fine and that will bring Frank and Julia back together.
I am getting tired of Derek referring to Karen as the Cartwright girl when he is talking to everyone else about Karen. It seem a little disrespectful.
Ellis got what he deserved! I found myself feeling a little bad for him which surprised the hell out of me as I have disliked Ellis since day one he is a manipulative person BUT you can tell that he is struggling with being gay and dose not know how to handle it.
I like Nick alot, there is something about him that I like! I think he and Eileen make a good couple!

Sarah silva

This was a good episode.
I think that bringing in Rebecca is a huge mistake, yes she has the star power BUT she is not "Marilyn". I think Ivy and Karen are way more talented.
The pow wow at Tom's apartment helped BUT Rebecca did not just let the musical be as it was, she did have them make changes still just not as many as she originally wanted.
I am slowly starting to like Ivy but then as soon as there is a nice moment it goes away as the mean girl Ivy side always seems to come out. Her and Karen were having fun at the bar then she has to go and tell Karen that Dev is probably off with another girl who is most likely pretty. Ivy just can not help herself, I hope she really does become a better person as she is much more enjoyable to watch and I would root for her if she stopped being mean and tried to be nice ALL the time.

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Smash Season 1 Episode 11 Quotes

I'd rather see longer scenes and a little less singing and dancing. You know?


Eileen: What we need to do is to find a constructive solution.
Julia: Group suicide?