If you’ve ever dreamed of landing the lead in a Broadway musical, then SMASH will suck you in. This “backstage musical” tells the story of the drama/conflict that goes on behind the stage. Writers are at war with each other and their director. The producer (Anjelica Huston) battles her ex-husband for the operating funds she needs. And at the center of all of this conflict, two stunning actresses duke it out for the starring role.
Ivy (Megan Hilty) is a voluptuous Broadway chorus girl who’s sick of never getting noticed. Karen (Katharine McPhee) is the naïve hopeful from Iowa. Both are triple threats, but only one can play Marilyn Monroe.
Vying for that one coveted spot sets up juicy conflict. But I think the writers did an excellent job of upping the tension by giving us a reason to pull for both girls in the pilot.
Ivy is obviously willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top, but in a brilliant scene in her apartment you see what drives her ambition. She’s on the phone with her mother, excitedly telling about the callback, anxious for her mother’s approval. But instead of giving Ivy praise, her mother changes the subject. The writer didn’t have to tell us how hard Ivy’s worked to get her mother’s attention and how she continues to fail … we could SEE the disappointment on Ivy’s beautiful face.
Karen’s parents come to New York and proceed to dash her aspirations at dinner. And we SEE how conflicted she is about pleasing her parents or following her dreams.
When imperfect people strive for perfection conflict arises. How can you stir some trouble into your stories?