There is one question on every Smash fan’s mind (or so it seems, judging from our Twitter messages) going into the second season: Now that Karen (Katharine McPhee) has the part of Marilyn in the “Bombshell” musical, and she kicked her cheating boyfriend out, to boot, with Derek (Jack Davenport) is her director, just what will become of the two of them romantically?
Well, if you’ve been reading the reviews or watching the promos for the new season, you know that Karen is still flirting with the idea of being Derek’s muse, while he is falling into some troubles with sexual harassment claims in the press. And then there’s the question of if Ivy (Megan Hilty) will just back down and away from the relationship she had for the past few months– and there’s also Jimmy’s (Jeremy Jordan) antagonistic chemistry with Karen, too.
Yes, things are getting very complicated, very fast, but it’s not all about a “will they/won’t they” for season two!
“I see Derek as Bob Fosse,” Smash season two showrunner Josh Safran said to LA TV Insider Examiner when we caught up with him in Los Angeles last month.
“You know, Fosse was very much caught between two women…and so is Derek at times. His relationship with Ivy may be over, but she’s not just going to go quietly [into the night].”
Hilty pointed out to us that she still considers Ivy and Derek “very much similar,” moreso than Karen and Derek, but season two should bring “other love in [Ivy’s] life.”
“Her friends keep her grounded. There are lots of walks and talks with Sam to figure things out on all levels. She’s burned a lot of bridges…but there may be more possibilities out there for her than she realizes at first,” Hilty said.
“Of course, her relationship with Karen is still very much in flux anyway. Ivy has a lot more to apologize for!”
McPhee didn’t want to give away too many relationship spoilers, but on the subject of Karen and Derek as a maybe-couple, she said “You can expect a lot of dancing around it and maybe some confusion.”
Instead, Karen seems to have found her tough, New York City girl edge, focusing on her career first. That’s what allows her to have her ears open when she takes a business meeting at a bar, meets an aspiring playwright, and later stumbles onto a pretty raw but still amazing new talent.
“I wanted to see her take more control of her career! I think you see little hints of it, and I’m always pushing for more of it,” McPhee said of our personal note from season one that Karen needed to toughen up before the business– and the city– ate her alive.
Still, McPhee pointed out that she’s still the same old Karen underneath, and though she has a little more knowledge and experience under her belt, her emotions are still bound to drive her at times:
“It’s definitely her intention to work on both musicals, but it becomes pretty clear what her decision is and what her choice is and which way she’s going to go. It’s a pretty brave and quick decision, I think, that she makes, but it’s something that comes from her gut and maybe being a little blinded by love,” she said.
Safran shared that such a strong-willed, “make things happen for myself” type of attitude will come into play for both Ivy and Karen in their personal and professional lives this season, though.
“It is very much a theme that is explored that Karen is starting to kind of drive her own career a bit,” Safran said of her stumbling onto Jimmy’s original musical and wanting to take it to Derek.
“I wanted to explore that story, not because of criticism from season one, but because it’s very true of actors or artists in general. There’s a certain point when you kind of have to decide what to do next if things aren’t working out for you. It’s very common for them to find a project they fall in love with and want to do that, regardless of what they are actually already working on, you know?
“And [similarly] with Ivy…you know, you see it a lot in this business, the ‘Do I have what it takes?’ ‘Can I make it?’ ‘How long can I wait?’ type of conversation with yourself. I was very lucky [not to experience much of that] in my career, but I see it all the time. And it becomes a matter of how much can you take? How bad do things have to get before they ultimately get better? Sometimes you just have to be pushed all the way down first, and I think Ivy got there. Ivy was pushed to her limits last season, and she made some mistakes, and she made some bad choices, and she burned some bridges. But ultimately what she and Karen are struggling with, it’s not that different.”
Smash airs on NBC on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m.
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