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Former ‘Smash’ showrunner Theresa Rebeck defends herself

Anne T. Donahue
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"Smash" creator Theresa Rebeck has issues with a Buzzfeed article about her. (NBC, Andrew H. Walker/Getty Imag …

Comparisons between a TV show's various seasons are inevitable -- just try to find a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" viewer or a fan of "The Wire" who doesn't have a favourite season. But in the case of NBC's "Smash," comparing the show's first and second seasons has become a question of which showrunner is most responsible for the series' descent into darkness.

See also: Is 'Smash' any better this season?

After creator and former showrunner Theresa Rebeck was dismissed from the series, "Smash" staffers believed they'd be given a second chance, an opportunity to redeem the show from weeks of critical panning and behind-the-scenes madness. Unfortunately for "Smash" and its staff, ratings have only declined in Season 2.

As a result, Rebeck has finally spoken up, a choice she opted out of in January when Buzzfeed ran its takedown of "Smash," which painted Rebeck in a less-than-flattering light -- or, more accurately, as a control freak unable to handle the stress of the job. In a series of emails to Buzzfeed's Kate Arthur, Rebeck defends herself against the claims, posing an interesting question:

"If in fact Theresa Rebeck was the problem with Smash and the train wreck it became," Rebeck wrote. "Wouldn't things have gotten better -- rather than drastically worse -- once she left?"

She continued: "In any case I would like to state that your version of events is so wildly untrue, and also so unauthenticated, I was surprised to see it is still on the Buzzfeed website. Might I propose that in the interest of fairness, you now take it down? If the interest of fairness is not too distant a memory for you."

Yikes. Write Kate Aurthur immediately responded, offering to talk to Rebeck about the claims, and alerting her that she'd publish the email in full "without any commentary, other than to point out that 'Smash' has fared poorly in its second season in the ratings."

That didn't exactly sit well with Rebeck, who was unimpressed with Aurthur's intention to publish the emails, but continued to argue that "most media reports would agree that the second season is a complete disaster, and that the troubles with a once promising show go far beyond faring poorly in the ratings."

You can read the complete exchange here.

See also: TV shows on the bubble: Will they be back next season?

While Rebeck is obviously unhappy with the way January's Buzzfeed piece painted her, does she still have a point? Considering "Smash" continues to flail in terms of ratings (especially now that NBC has dumped it into a Saturday night time slot), does that indicate the problem is bigger than who's in charge?

It may be more a question of taste: "Smash's" first and second seasons are like night and day in terms of plot development and characters (we miss you, Uma Thurman!), and while the second season may have roped in new viewers through its new production numbers and characters, it may have lost those who grew to love the madness of "Smash" Season 1. Arguably, it's a trade off.

And if "Smash" does magically get renewed for a third season (hey, miracles can happen), perhaps the showrunners should focus less on "fixing" the show, and more on combining the best parts of Seasons 1 and 2 -- beginning with bringing back Debra Messing's scarves. Pretty please?

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