Friday, June 18, 2021

My Weekend Crush

Jean Smart has always been great, we’ve just forgotten to notice for too long. If you’ve watched “Hacks” or “Mare of Easttown” or “Watchmen” or “Fargo” recently you were jolted out of your fog and remembered, immediately, how great she has always been. Like, I knew back in her “Designing Women” days as she played up her role as loveable-if-naive Charlene Frazier (basically the group’s much taller Rose).

She has worked steadily since her six seasons on “Designing Women” ended in 1991. But she’s only recently gotten the acclaim she has deserved all along for her work. In part, I think it’s because she can chameleon herself so well into roles. She was ditzy Charlene for so many. But underneath has always been a sharp, incisive talent able to become whatever she needs to be in the moment.

Whether she’s playing the matriarch to a crime family (“Fargo”) or a FBI Agent Laurie Blake (“Watchmen”) or Kate Winslet’s long-suffering caustic mother (“Mare of Easttown”) or a comedy legend fighting the sunsetting of her career (“Hacks”) she makes you believe. And, truly, that’s all you can ask from an actor. That their performance engrosses you so much you almost forget who they are.

Her most recent work, the HBO Max series “Hacks,” in particular showcases her in a way that cannot be ignored. While she has been an always excellent supporting star, giving her a start turn at 69 is inspired and so well deserved. She fully inhabits the complicated loneliness of success, ambition, privilege and passion as female comedy icon Deborah Vance.

(Not to mention the show’s other star, Hannah Einbinder, plays a bisexual up-and-coming comedy writer. And they may or may not kiss at some point on screen which I will say no more about but yeah it happens. Also Hannah is also an out bisexual in real life, and the daughter of SNL great Laraine Newman — yes, really.)

After a steady career these last 30 years after leaving “Designing Women,” Jean most definitely deserves all the “Jean Smartaissance” talk. Like, if she doesn’t start next year off with an Emmy or two, then what even is the point?

Also, did you know that Jean married her “Designing Women” co-star Richard Gilliland (who actually played Annie Potts character Mary Jo’s boyfriend) in 1987 and they were together until his death earlier this spring? Oh, and here’s one last bit of fascinating Jean Smart trivia. She is a direct descendent of Dorcas Hoar, one of the last women convicted of witchcraft (but whose life was spared) during the Salem witch trials during the late 17th Century.

Yes, Jean Smart is a direct descendent of the witches they could not burn. I guess that truly explains it all. Happy weekend, all.

P.s. “Hacks” is as excellent as everyone has said, even if I’m miffed at them for the very obvious, self-destructive “twist” at the end which *yawn* we all saw coming. But there will be a second season to make up for it, so on with the show.


Carmen San Diego said...

I’m glad she’s getting her flowers
Have a great weekend DS

Anonymous said...

You should check out her 'narration' (performance, really) with Janis Ian of Isabel Miller's Patience and Sarah. They. Are. Awesome.

Blazer said...

I first saw Jean Smart play Lil in Last Summer at Bluefish Cove here in Los Angeles. Must have been 1982 or 1983. She was wonderful!

Osiris said...

Never seen Hacks (no access to it) but I've had enough with bisexuality. Promote lesbian visibility.

fridax said...

@above commenter: What is it with the biphobia?!

Anyhow, I really adore Jean Smart in all the roles I've seen her in so far, i.e. Legion, Watchmen and Mare of Easttown. The versatility! I hope, she gets the kudos she deserves.