Review: Season 2 of NBC's "Smash" looks promising

NBC's "Smash" looks to have a promising second season as the show develops more prominent storylines (Photo courtesy of
NBC's "Smash" looks to have a promising second season as the show develops more prominent storylines (Photo courtesy of

What do American Idol finalist Katherine McPhee and “Will and Grace” star Debra Messing have in common? It’s NBC’s hit series “Smash,” which started its second season on Tuesday, Feb. 5!

If McPhee and Messing aren’t exciting enough to get you pumped for the second season of “Smash,” than perhaps Academy Award winning Jennifer Hudson is, who will be featured this season. These aren’t the only headlining names you’ll see on “Smash.” Plus, as any fan knows from watching season one, the show has much more to offer than just its all-star cast: a riveting plot.

The show’s premise focuses on two Broadway songwriters, Julia Houston (Debra Messing) and Tom Levitt (Christian Borle) who have teamed up to write a musical surrounding the life of Marilyn Monroe. The entire first season follows the development of this Broadway musical—we see Julia and Tom find a producer (Anjelica Huston), a director (Jack Davenport) and then put together a cast for the show.

Karen Cartwright (McPhee) and Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) on NBC's "Smash" which just started its second season (Photo courtesty of Will Hart/NBC).

“Smash” not only focuses on the process of creating a Broadway musical, but also the relationships of the entire production team from director, actor, singer and the like. As the musical moves forward in its development, it becomes clear that the musical symbolizes something different for each character. 

One of the two main characters, Karen Cartwright (McPhee) is an aspiring Broadway performer from a small town in Iowa, who comes close to earning the role of Marilyn Monroe. Most of the first season revolves around the rivalry between her and Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty), another Broadway diva. However, Ivy ends up earning the role of Marilyn over Karen because she has more experience on Broadway and is good friends with songwriter, Tom. Despite the role of Marilyn being tossed around, season one ends with Karen taking center stage and stealing the show.

Season two picks up right where season one ended: the show is a hit and the next stop is to put the show on Broadway. The show’s newest character, Veronica Moore, is played by Jennifer Hudson as she plays a Tony Award-winning Broadway actress who has already made it in show business. Hudson’s character provides foreshadowing of what Karen’s life will become once the Marilyn Monroe musical, “Bombshell” becomes a hit.


An all-star cast of incredible voices and beautiful songs isn’t all that “Smash” has to offer. Not only is the singing and songwriting for the show superb, but the performances are out of this world. Most songs in the show are original and every performance matches the intensity of the songs being sung. It’s hard to turn away from your television with these beautiful, catchy songs. Audiences begin to feel just as excited as the characters as this musical comes together.

With every show, there are some misses. What “Smash” lacks is good acting and stronger storylines. McPhee blows you away any time she takes to the stage and sings a song, yet her acting abilities aren’t nearly on the same level as her singing abilities. While Hilty’s character is meant to be the one that the audience is supposed to dislike, I began to favor her on screen performances because of Hilty’s stronger acting skills.

Also problematic are the characters that tend to be melodramatic, which can often be annoying. The show tended to center around meaningless subplots that hardly held the audience’s attention in season one. However, the first episode of the new season seems to be trying to move away from these over-the-top characters with a well-focused plot and the addition of new characters.

Outside of Veronica, these new characters include, Jimmy Collins (Jeremy Jordan), who is self-destructive and anti-social with an awe-inspiring voice. Although he works as a bartender, he and his best friend Kyle Bishop (Andy Mientus), are aspiring songwriters who have a musical that they plan to put together with the help of “Bombshell” director Derek Wills. Season one’s meaningless subplots have been swept away with the promise of the financial challenges that face bringing “Bombshell” to Broadway. What season two also has going for it are a whole new set of breathtaking songs to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

“Smash” is bringing back what it does best with season two: great voices, songs and characters we can fall in love with. The show disregards the sidetracked subplots and focuses on great musical talent. Not only will viewers experience the creation of a second musical but they’ll be able to experience “Bombshell” coming to life on the Broadway stage.

You’ll be captivated by the promise of having Hudson sweep you off your feet with her voice. I’m sure there will be a lot of performances to look forward to with a stronger cast to lead the show onward. A second season is always difficult for a relatively new show.

However, “Smash” seems to be headed in the right direction and hopefully will only continue to get better with each episode.

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