Smash Recap: A Republican, a Fight, and One Fancy Fox


Hell on Earth
Season 1 Episode 9


Hell on Earth
Season 1 Episode 9
Photo: Eric Liebowitz/NBC

Sabotage! Thy name is Rebeck! How else to explain the sudden blackout on the DVRs of Time Warner subscribers attempting to watch the most realistic depiction of the theatrical industry since Sylvester Stallone’s Stayin’ Alive? How else, unless someone at the top, someone powerful enough to clear out an entire Eileen Fisher sample sale with the slightest flare of her majestic nostril, didn’t want us to see it?

After four minutes and 37 seconds of abject panic and a barrage of curses so intense my next-door neighbor, a.k.a. the world’s loudest masturbator, started banging on the wall with his shoe (at least, that’s what I hope it was), I finally figured out how to reboot the fucking cable box. Our episode at last springs to glorious life the same way the world did, with the enormous face of Anjelica Huston looming above our blinkered eyes, her lips stretched in an impassive grimace. She’s staring down Derek, the most flagrantly heterosexual man ever to fill out a dance belt, who is once again (apart from that bizarre plunge into gay panic last week) proving his utter reasonableness as a human being by refusing to blindly offer the part of Marilyn Monroe to a succession of aging movie stars. He’s also refusing to devote any more of his billable hours to the project until a few key elements are in place. Until there’s a script, for example. Or a finished score. Or, in fact, a title, because if you just call it Marilyn, everyone will assume it’s about Marilyn Bergman. You could do a Yentl number!

Tom and Cousin Debbie have been charged with these tasks but, per usual, are making little headway owing to their personal mis’ries. Cousin Debbie’s russet head is bent low with the weight of guilt and a thousand Tibetan prayer amulets, while Tom, sweet lovely Tom who is an excellent listener and has a really cute new haircut and rarely an unkind word for anyone, has just made a horrific discovery. In addition to being habitually condescending and preternaturally dull in the sack, his new boyfriend, Almost Totally Hairless Jo(h)n, is also a Republican. That’s a deal-breaker, ladies! Although it does explain a few things, like his close-cropped hair and his three-piece suits and the time he kicked that homeless guy to death outside of the Crunch on Lafayette Street. And the fact that he has a picture of Antonin Scalia’s face tattooed on his chest. I could go on all day, but that’s not important. What’s important is that Jo(h)n is soon to goosestep his way out of Tom’s life, setting the stage for Token, sweet, straight-acting Token who doesn’t hate himself and will probably never suddenly produce a transvaginal ultrasound wand during otherwise consensual anal play. Yay for Tom.

In other news of despair and dejection, Ivy and Karen, the Valjean and Javert of the Forever 21 set, have in their post-Marilyn circumstances been reduced to running into each other at open calls for orange juice commercials. And I mean literally running into each other, in that bag-flying “Oh HIIIIIII, is that your diaphragm you wore when you slept with the director for my part?” “Are those your tampons, you barren, calculating, deceptively careerist Jennifer Aniston type?” way. Karen winds up booking the job, and Ivy is predictably furious at the unfairness of it all, and look: God knows I’m not often caught sticking up for Karen, but Ivy, if she’ll forgive me, could do with being a little more chipper through the day. Yes, she has a nemesis. But she’s also got a steady gig in a Broadway show. She’s got a group of attractive, physically fit friends whose only dramaturgical purpose appears to be to sublimate their own emotional needs for the sake of her ego. She’s got a major Broadway composer who is actively trying to make her a star.

And she’s got Derek, who for all intents and purposes appears to be her actual boyfriend! A boyfriend who sits on her couch bitching about this shitty TV pilot he might (if he’s very lucky) get to direct about a vampire psychic podiatrist who fights crime and is dating someone who is a ghost but also the district attorney. A boyfriend whose career is just enough better than hers that she gets to go to good parties and order the $29 brook trout whenever she feels like having the fucking brook trout. What else does she want? There is only one person who will achieve perfect happiness during her time on Earth and that is Gwyneth Paltrow. The rest of us squat, imperfect worker bees will have to wait for our final reward, when Norbert Leo Butz will greet us at the gates of the celestial kingdom with angel wings made of cheap marabou feather.

But I will get to all that in a minute. First we must descend into the depths of hell (otherwise known as Brooklyn) where Unfrozen Caveman Husband has taken time out of his busy Brooklyn schedule of mortaring and pestle-ing and attempting to ban Israeli-made sperm donations from the neighborhood cooperative fertility clinic to noodle out a tune on the piano.

But not just any tune. You see, he was looking for some adoption papers, but instead found some sheet music of a song Cousin Debbie was working on, and it goes a little something like this: So I was kissing Michael Swift / Out upon the Brooklyn Bridge / He said: “Look, I have a penis” / I said: “Put it in a smidge …” Whatever, it’s a work in progress, but Cousin Debbie, a woman so desperate to be caught she repeatedly made out with her adulterous lover not only in front of her work colleagues but right on her front stoop where all her neighbors and her troubled teenage Carpet could see, flings herself to the ground and cries: “IT’S TRUE, IT’S ALL TRUE, IT’S COMPLETELY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL. HE PUT IT IN ME AND I’M SO ASHAMED BUT NOT REALLY!” And Unfrozen Caveman Husband … well, Unfrozen Caveman Husband delivers a monologue of such hurt and rage and befuddlement that I am thoroughly discombobulated by this sudden ascent into a Tracy Letts play and am forced to parse small, meaningless details in order to regain my equilibrium. Like, if you cheat on your spouse, are you really cheating on your children, because wouldn’t cheating on your children mean spending time with someone else’s younger, cuter children who can give you what your own no longer can? And have you noticed how when Debra Messing gets emotional, two perfect, shining un-shed tears form right at the bottom of her eyeballs, like a Precious Moments figurine? (I really hope she’s tipping her lighting guy for that.) Cousin Debbie’s life has exploded like one of those expired cans of tomatoes Cornelius Hackl let go of in Horace Vandergelder’s storeroom so he and Barnaby could have one perfect day outside of Yonkers. Therefore, Marilyn the Musical will be called Bombshell. A perfect title, and all she had to do was destroy the lives of three, possibly six people! Who said Broadway wasn’t cheap?

In order to reassert his supremacy in the wolf pack, Unfrozen Caveman Husband must confront the loathsome Michael Swift at the traditional brawling grounds of the burly mountain men of Off Broadway: on the effluvia-soaked sidewalk outside New York Theatre Workshop. Here does Paul Rudnick impale on iron spikes the rotting heads of those who would betray him. “SWIFT!” bellows Unfrozen Caveman Husband, his manhood rising from the heady scent of Tony Kushner’s latest kill. “SHOW YOURSELF, SWIFT!” Thus called out, Michael reluctantly appears and offers one of those dead-eyed, noncommittal, vaguely amused apologies that functioning sociopaths make, even if for them it basically feels like apologizing to a toilet for shitting in it. I mean, that’s what it’s there for, right? Oh, the rumble is on! Belts, pipes, cans, bricks, bats, clubs, chains, bottles, knives … FISTS! It’s fists! Unfrozen Caveman Husband punches Michael Swift right in his stupid pouty date-rapist face! Unfrozen Caveman Husband is a hero of the Paleozoic Age! Just like Anjelica Huston, whom I hope he marries next, forever!

Speaking of, what’s Anjelica Huston doing? Oh, having some non-meal with Mauritius director Doug Hughes, solely so they can be interrupted by a gleeful Michael Riedel whose (a) obvious excitement at getting to be on TV is almost as endearing as Chuck Schumer’s and (b) ubiquity on this show makes me think that Charles Isherwood really needs to find a better agent. (Although on second thought, maybe he already has one.)

So of course, Michael Riedel mentions this all in his column, which makes Derek storm into her office in his Matrix coat, and you know how all the characters on this show have these particular costume inspirations? Like how Cousin Debbie is always dressed as if Maya Angelou, Pocahantas, and Al Gore had a baby in one of those Weetzie-Bat this-baby-is-all-of-ours threesome conception orgies and then gave the baby to Varys the eunuch to raise? Well, Derek’s personal style icon is Bug, the creepy boyfriend from Uncle Buck, the one where John Candy took one look at his beret and knew he couldn’t be trusted. Anyway, the Doug Hughes lunch sufficiently inflamed Derek’s professional jealousy, just as Anjelica Huston foresaw it in the crystal shard her personal auctioneer at Sotheby’s managed to buy off the Last of the Skeksis. Derek is back in.

Fa la! Methinks I hear the silvery chirp of Ellis Dappledawn, Sigil of the Woodlands, with an ant for a pet and a dewdrop for a monocle! He has decided that the best way to avenge himself upon the universe for not immediately bestowing upon him everything he has dreamed for himself the way American Idol told him it was supposed to is to convince Scottsdale, Anjelica Huston’s craven and perpetually striped former assistant, to hack into her contact list to find out whom various people’s agents are, since a subscription to IMDbPro is not nearly illogical or nefarious enough for his purposes.

These machinations land him a martini date with a very Fancy Fox, Robin Hood’s extremely well-groomed younger brother who left the outlaw business to attend to the floral and Champagne icing needs of one Rebecca Duvall, a certain blonde movie star finding the shift to digital HD a bit more difficult than one might have expected. Fancy Fox introduces our young Dappledawn to the ways of the celebrity hotel suite, and also to the ways of … well, I’m not sure. I mean, we saw Ellis mention that they had a “few hours” to spare if there was anything he could “do” to make sure he got to the top of Fancy Fox’s “list” but I refuse to further the liberal media’s radical gay agenda by reading any more into it than that. Maybe they just hung around eating spring rolls from room service and watching Breaking Bad on pay-per-view and from time to time clasping each other in firm, masculine embraces, the way men do. What’s wrong with that? Why do you persist in assuming that Brick and Skipper were anything more than just good friends? Like Bert and Ernie. Or Batman and Robin. Or Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas?

And now, at last the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Ivy’s descent into Drug Hell, when she will stand in the middle of Times Square screaming her own name at the top her lungs while the sound of maniacal laughter erupts from the heavens. IVY LYNN LIFSCHITZ!! Or whatever Jew-face last name is lurking darkly on the driver’s license when someone ends their name with “Lynn.” Or “Michele.”

Here’s how it’s done, in case you want to try it at home:

1. Hold the bottle deliberately up to the camera so the label is clearly visible.

2. Give yourself a long, searching look in the mirror. Ask yourself hard questions: How did I get here? What happened to that innocent little girl inside me? How exactly can I best angle my head so my eyes look downcast but I don’t get a double chin?

3. Decisively take pill … excuse me, doll.

4. Have a reaction totally disproportionate and in fact, incongruous to the drug you are supposed to have just taken. If it’s speed, act sleepy. If it’s sleeping pills, act crazy. If it’s a nonaddictive therapeutic steroid most commonly prescribed for mild conditions such as laryngitis, lie immobile on the floor of your dressing room in an angel costume, then pass out on the set of the “Sodomy” staircase from Meet the Feebles and be screamed at by an enraged Norbert Leo Butz.

5. When in doubt, just act drunk. It’ll read.


7. Make sure your nemesis is on hand to see your shame, so you can later shout things at her like: “Oh, Karen, you really are blind. It wasn’t a miscarriage, it was an abortion. Just like Marilyn probably had an abortion. Just like how that cage-dancing thing you did last week was what they make you watch in Arizona before they let you have an abortion. I threw your sunglasses away. You’re nice; you’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re just nice. Stop being so nice. Also, when a woman keeps pointing out how much some guy wanted to sleep with her, probably she would very much like to sleep with him. Bitch, you’ve been warned.” Then borrow money from her so you can both get drunk. Do not, under any circumstances attempt to pay this money back.

8. Pass out on your bed with your halo on. Thank God that this is network so you are not compelled to have a mechanical and implausible lesbian scene with Kat McPhee.

And that’s all she wrote! See you on the barricades, descamisados!

Smash Recap: A Republican, a Fight, and One Fancy Fox