Skip to main content

Why 'Smash' Reminds Me of the 1994 Disaster That Was 'Models Inc.'

Call me crazy, but Smash reminds me a lot of the one-season wonder that was Fox's Models Inc (1994-95). You know, that Aaron Spelling sudser about a group of attractive people dealing with first-world problems in post-Recession times? It was created in an attempt to prolong the soapy high left by the guiltiest of 90s guilty pleasures, Melrose Place.

One could argue that NBC's Smash was created in a similar fashion, as a network's attempt to capitalize on a trend, the TV musical, one that was sparked by that shiny happy franchise known as Glee (and look at that, it's on Fox).

Both shows have gone through some sizable tweaking (showrunner switcheroos!) to rejuvenate storylines and ramp up ratings. And so far, it isn't working for the NBC showtuner, just like it didn't work for that pretty piece of Clinton-era trash starring a post-Dallas Linda Gray. While Fox had the patience to stick it out with Models for an impressive 32 episodes, NBC looks like it's currently doing the same with Smash's second season, which would, by the end of its run, bring it up to roughly the same amount of episodes.

But the comparisons don't end there.

Halfway through its run, Models Inc. brought on an African-American beauty by the name of Garcelle Beauvais in what was most likely a bid to up the drama's diversity quota. Smash brought on an African-American singer by the name of Jennifer Hudson in what was most likely a bid to up the drama's diversity and Oscar winner quota.

Big-name guest stars were also brought in to pique viewer interest on both shows. Models saw the casting of Emma Samms as Grayson Louder, a troublesome, presumed-dead woman who stirred the pot with everyone at the agency. Smash introduced Rebecca Duvall, a presumably sober actress who stirred the pot with everyone in the musical-within-the-musical. Who played her? None other than Uma Thurman.

Then there was resident bad girl Julie Dante (Kylie Travis), who attempted to increase the bitch factor on the mid-90s sudser. However, by the end of the show's run, she went through a transformation in which she ultimately became a chick you rooted for, finding the man of her dreams -- as well as a soul. The same can be said for Megan Hilty's Ivy on the NBC musical. The first dozen episodes saw her as a whiny rival of Katharine McPhee's Karen, conniving and sleeping her way to the top. Now? She's a misunderstood and slightly sympathetic doll who just wants to shine in any spotlight that will have her.

Models Inc. was pure TV junk food disguised as a glossy luxury item that didn't really have a clear mission statement -- or an endgame. Smash, while it pretends to have an endgame (the debut of Bombshell on Broadway), is still a glamorous piece of storytelling that's all surface and not much filling. That doesn't mean both of these shows are completely unwatchable. On the contrary, there's something delectable about observing the trials and tribulations of a group of privileged people who complain about their "hardships" and dilemmas while the rest of us are faced with challenges that are much scarier than the typical what-song-will-we-write-for-the-opening-number? conundrums the characters on Smash seem to face every. Friggin'. Week.

As disastrous as Smash may be, I will continue to the enjoy the hell out of it while it lasts...because you know it won't.

Which only leaves me with the following: my apologies to Debra Messing, who's been having a hard time landing a post-Will and Grace series that will last more than two seasons. (The Starter Wife anyone?)

Don't worry, girl. It gets better.



Anonymous said…
Smash is almost everyone I know's guilty pleasure - a good friend who is a real-deal Broadway musical producer watches it with friends and LAUGHS. She loves to hate it because it is supposedly not at ALL how musicals are done on Broadway. I'm glad it's still on the air. My biggest gripe is Debra Messing's maudlin pathetic character/storyline - just awful. If her character died/left/vanished would anybody care? Maybe THAT's their opening number.

Popular posts from this blog

13 Things You Probably Didn't Know About 'The Golden Girls'

When one nostalgically binges on all seven seasons of The Golden Girls like me (I swear I have a life), you pick up on a few things. Certain patterns appear as you continuously witness the consumption of countless cheesecakes inside a fictitious Miami kitchen and hear one St. Olaf story too many.

Here's what I noticed after playing my DVDs of this 80s classic over the past several months (and if you're already familiar with the following factoids, excuse me for underestimating your fanaticism)...

1. Actor Harold Gould, who played Rose's long-term boyfriend Miles Webber from Season 5 to Season 7 (and throughout most of the short-lived spinoff, The Golden Palace), also appears in the first season as Arnie Peterson, Rose's first serious beau after her husband's death.

2. The same can be said for Sid Melton, who played Sophia's deceased husband Sal (in flashbacks and dream sequences). He also appears in a Season 6 episode as a jester in a medieval-themed restauran…

Just Because: 9 Music Videos That Take Place in Laundromats

It's one of the biggest music video tropes that's rarely explored in pop culture.

The public laundromat has become a go-to location for artists when making a music video for a single they wish to sell to the masses.

But WHAT IS IT about a space where ragtag groups of strangers gather to fluff and fold their delicates? Is it the obvious metaphor of dirty versus clean? The scintillating possibility of people stripping off their clothes for a wash?

I was feeling a little nostalgic (as usual) and took a look at some of the vids that have fallen under the spell of spin cycles over the past 30 years...


Back in the early 90s, the Christian pop tart followed up her massively successful "Baby Baby" with "Every Heartbeat," a personal childhood favorite of yours truly (the Body & Soul Mix, of course). In one of the two vignettes featured in the video, a laundry-toting hottie attempts to flirt with a young woman who re…

The Year My Childhood Was Literally Destroyed: Remembering Blessed Sacrament Elementary

2020 is already proving to be an emotionally challenging and bizarre year -- to put it mildly.

Barely three months in, our world is being filled with near-dystopian levels of absurdity. While watching an increasingly corrupt and inept administration fumble through the dawn of a global pandemic (the likes of which have already claimed the health of national treasure Tom Hanks), I recently learned that Blessed Sacrament Elementary, the school I attended from the ages of 4 to 14, will be demolished to make way for (what else?) modern, state-of-the-art residences. These sleek and stylish apartments (see a rendering below) are to accommodate the influx of Manhattan commuters who have been gradually populating the downtown sector of my hometown, New Rochelle, New York...which also happens to be the location of the first COVID-19 containment zone in the U.S.

But this isn't about the coronavirus and the panic it has rapidly spread, prompting everyone and their Boomer parents to go out an…