Katharine McPhee Shines in ‘Smash,’ But She’s Got Serious Competition (VIDEO)

smash katharine mcpheeNew NBC series Smash has everything: Singing, dancing, drama, and an American Idol star. Finalist Katharine McPhee plays Broadway hopeful Karen Cartwright, an aspiring actress from the Midwest, waiting tables in-between auditions. Little does she know her big break is just around the corner: Writing team Julia (Debra Messing, we're so glad to see her again!) and Tom (Christian Borle) are cooking up a musical based on Marilyn Monroe. Oh -- but who's this Broadway veteran waiting in the wings for the title role? Ivy Lynn (Meagan Hilty), a blonde with all the right curves and serious stage chops.

From the get-go, Smash forces you to pick sides. Who should get the starring role in Marilyn? Meagan, who has paid her dues and could run with the role with hardly any training? Or fresh-faced newbie Karen, with her innocence and... uh, not sure what else she brings to the role, actually. Okay, I guess I've given it away: I'm definitely on Team Ivy.

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Karen almost had me, though. The idea of fresh take on Marilyn, one that approaches the character from her more emotional, vulnerable side, is exciting. Who wouldn't want that? If only there were more depth to Karen. The flip side of Marilyn's innocence and vulnerability was her dark, pain-filled brooding and her relentless ambition. And the more you learn about Ivy (and the more you watch actress Meagan Hilty), the more you see that deeper side.

Not to mention, I'm not a fan of Katharine's nasaly voice. I know she has her fans, though. Bring it on, Team Karen! Just please, it's Katharine, not Katherine. Of course, show business is addicted to youth and novelty, and even in that first episode you can feel the show's pull toward Karen. And Lord knows her fans feel she's due a win after narrowly missing the big win on American Idol. That's why it hurts to be on Team Ivy. Looks like she's the underdog.

I'm also rooting for more Anjelica Huston, who plays a producer Eileen Rand, going through a horrific divorce. Anjelica just makes everything she's in better, and I love her in this powerful role. I'm also cheering for the slick, wicked director Derek, played by the delicious Jack Davenport. Remember him as James Norrington in Pirates of the Caribbean? He's getting hotter with age.

Yes, I like rooting for the bad guys sometimes. That sensitive boyfriend of Karen's who knows more about Marilyn Monroe's psyche than she does? That's not gonna last. He's cute and everything. But you know there's a painful break-up scene lurking in this series. I can't wait! I'm already hooked.

Did you see the premiere of Smash? Are you on Team Ivy or Team Karen?

 

Image via NBC

 

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