1. Great Performances
Sometimes the music was great. Sometimes it was just OK. Sometimes I’m not really sure what they were thinking. But the spectacle of it all — you just don’t see showstoppers like that on TV. Even Glee, another over-the-top musical series, keeps most of its big numbers grounded. Smash’s song-and-dance routines always left an impression.
2. Megan Hilty
She’s a star. She has always been a star. And while I’m eager to see her on a new series, I wonder if she’ll be able to find another suitable showcase for her talents. Ivy was the one consistently great thing about Smash, and it was a joy to watch Megan Hilty perform on a regular basis. If she can’t find another TV outlet for her skills, she belongs back on Broadway. Ideally in a show less troubled than Bombshell.
3. A True Appreciation for Broadway
It’s hard to imagine a show more steeped in Broadway than Smash: every character, every plotline, every conflict was rooted in musical theater. For non-theater geeks, it was perhaps not the most compelling viewing. But to those of us who do consider the Tonys to be the most important night of the year, it felt good to be part of the niche audience for once.
4. Special Guest Stars
Here’s how you know a show is for theater geeks only: Cheyenne Jackson and Christine Ebersole are selling points. See also: Jesse L. Martin, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Harvey Fierstein. These names either mean nothing to you, or they mean everything. For Smash’s target audience, seeing which Broadway star would pop up each week was a rare treat.
5. The Absurdity
At its worst — all of Season 1, basically — Smash was bad. But fun bad, like they were throwing everything they could at us just to see what would stick. It was all so silly, like True Blood with singing. Even in a more subdued (and better) second season, there were still moments of WTF. A random drop-in performance by Liza Minnelli? Sure, why not!
6. Well-Developed Gay Characters
One of the saddest things about losing Smash is that we’re also losing characters like Tom Levitt and Sam Strickland — men whose sexuality wasn’t their only defining characteristic, but who weren’t shy about it either. We saw gay men date and kiss and generally show affection for one another. It shouldn’t be groundbreaking in 2013, but on a major network, it kind of was.
7. Real Talent
Smash was the perfect showcase for theater performers who hadn’t quite hit the mainstream — Megan Hilty and Christian Borle, yes, but also Wesley Taylor, Krysta Rodriguez, Andy Mientus, and so many more. While they may not be household names yet, they got the kind of exposure most theater actors never get. The general public is now that much savvier about the talent out there.
8. The Fan Community
I can’t think of a show I loved talking about more than Smash. Corny as it sounds, I connected to people over the show — whether it was discussing the implausibilities (seriously, that first season, you guys), or gushing about our favorite Broadway stars making cameos. Smash gave theater geeks something new to bond over. I think I’ll miss that most of all.