I was right. Not only is Smash worse now that it's average instead of catastrophic, it's also much less popular. Because I can't stop thinking about how bad Smash is, I thought some more about how bad Smash is.
Ironically, the only compelling storyline in this season is the meta-commentary on the showrunner’s departure. In season one, Debra Messing’s character, Julia, served as Rebeck’s stand-in—a relationship between character and creator that hamstrung the show. As Kate Arthur reported in Buzzfeed, “Rebeck based the character on herself, and yet wouldn’t allow Julia to have a good arc that would satisfy or endear her to the audience.”
If the writers wanted to give Julia something to do that was hard and that she would eventually get through, “Theresa would say, ‘It’s not a struggle! She doesn’t have a problem! She’s the hero! She saves everything!’” said someone who witnessed this oft-repeated discussion.
Another source added: “The writer had such a strong identification with that character that she couldn’t actually write well for her, or allow interesting stories to develop. The writers were trying to push into more interesting territory for that character, and Theresa blocked that creatively. Even if she might think, Well, I wanted Debra Messing to be the star, she didn’t allow that to happen.”
Without Rebeck there to keep an eye on her, Julia has been rewritten as a writer who is crippled by arrogance. Blind to Bombshell’s problems, she is so unwilling to rewrite her own work that she threatens to destroy the show. Dedicating a storyline to shaming a fired employee is twisted, infuriating and quite possibly insane—in short, everything we hate/loved about Smash in the first place. As the network flails, perhaps a desperate attempt to save the show will lead to more of this weirdness. Smash may get awful again, but I don’t think it could ever get bad enough to make a comeback.
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