NBC released a special full-length preview of their new series Smash today on Hulu—and it is good.
For those of you inclined to write it off as a bad Glee knockoff, think twice. Where Glee gets its kicks on novelty mash-ups and sexed-up teenagers, Smash‘s forte is its original numbers and all-star cast.
And don’t let her American Idol past fool you. Katherine McPhee more than keeps up with her co-stars Angelica Houston and Debra Messing.
The show’s premise is simple: two actresses vie for the lead role in a new Marilyn Monroe musical on Broadway. One is Karen (McPhee), a young and innocent Midwestern girl with little experience, but a lot of heart (plus, a hot boyfriend to boot). The other, Ivy (Megan Hilty), looks the part and has a résumé filled with Broadway experience, albeit in chorus parts.
There’s a sleazy director, a power-hungry assistant, multiple troubled marriages and condescending parents. And did we mention Angelica Houston?
The musical numbers are fantastic and any Broadway fan — young or old — will soon be adding this series to their Hulu queue.
What makes Smash interesting is the ambiguity towards whom exactly to root for. Unlike most major network shows (for example, Glee) there isn’t a clear line of good versus evil. The series definitely makes a huge push for audiences to fall for Karen, but this same desire is undermined by an overwhelming pity for Ivy.
Unlike Karen, Ivy doesn’t seem to have a strong support system — in fact, she doesn’t seem to have any support system at all. Ivy’s been working hard at her career for years, but has never gotten the spotlight recognition she desires. And with no one to come home to at night, it seems her Broadway dreams are her only comfort.
This sacrifice and perseverance are exactly why most New Yorkers will find themselves rooting for Ivy. A Cinderella story is great and all, but when you’re living in the Big Apple it’s far too easy to turn bitter towards those lucky enough to have success handed to them.
Here in NYC, we wear our struggles like a badge of pride. You haven’t made it until you’ve lived with three roommates in a two-bedroom railroad apartment off the G train. And if you’ve somehow managed to make it without many speed bumps, we will judge you for it. Team Ivy, all the way!
Watch Smash‘s first episode embedded at the top left of this story or catch it on TV Monday Feb. 6 at 10pm ET.