'Glee' Grown Up

You don't have to be a fan of the Fox show, "Glee," to enjoy NBC's new Broadway based drama, "Smash," from NBC, writes Fr. Terrance Klein in this exclusive Web review:

"Glee” is produced by Fox. These days, all creativity seems to come from one of the non-traditional broadcast networks. The three old stalwarts seem content to play the same role that Detroit now does in auto-making. Let someone else be creative; then repeat the same in the most cost-effective manner. So when NBC offers us Smash, about the production of a Broadway musical, replete with musical numbers, is there any reason not to expect a corporate knock-off of “Glee?”

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Yes! In every way that matters, a resounding yes. When the musical numbers stop, any similarity ends. To begin, “Smash” has a season-long plot. It doesn’t simply put the kids into a weekly situation, one often organized around an homage to this week’s pop celebrity. “Smash” asks what it takes—in the lives of those who do it—to produce a Broadway musical. Whose dreams will come true, and at what price?

This show to be produced is based upon the life of Marilyn Monroe, a young woman America made into an icon but at the cost of her own personhood. The plot of “Smash” revolves around which of two young women, Ivy Lynn or Karen Cartwright, will play the role. Both are aspiring actresses, hoping for their first big break. Each is loaded with talent and looks. Either of them is, or can be made into, a Marilyn Monroe type. The question is, which of them can be more than a type, can truly channel the woman America never really knew? In that regard, the Broadway musical at the center of “Smash” is an act of moral retribution. We may have made Marilyn into a type, but the woman now being chosen to play her is supposed to be more. She is to be someone who worthily inherits the adulation that smothered Marilyn.

Read the rest here.

Tim Reidy

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