I don't think the show started off great at all. Although I am behind by about 3 episodes, season 2, IMO, has been much better than season 1. Had the show started with season 2, who knows what may have happened. This show should have been on cable. I don't think an adult musical drama has much chance of working on any of the networks.
I like both seasons for different reasons. The first season is about old Broadway and nostalgia for the past of Marilyn Monroe's fame. The characters reflected that persona--Ivy was Marilyn's brooding, self-destructive reality versus the promise of her talent in Karen Cartwright (of Norma Jean Mortenson). This current season has said more about the differences between today's celebrity culture and that of Marilyn's time. I have pieced together enough of "Hit List" from the description and Derek's directing to see where this is going. To be successful today, you have to have something that grabs people's attention. It doesn't take much talent (or morality). Marilyn would've been popular for popping pills and sleeping with the President, not for the sex appeal and what she did on-screen. She would've become a side-show. And nothing personifies that more than the Diva's murder of Amanda in "Hit List." Amanda does whatever she can to gain fame, stepping all over Jesse, and the Diva is back on-top for killing Amanda.
What bothers me is the over-the-top performance of Jeremy Jordan and the bland performances turned in by Katharine McPhee and Andy Meintus. The cast of "Hit List" doesn't do this material justice. Jordan would do well to be less wounded and more jaded. His choice shows where this is going. He is a good guy who's lived a bad life and so its about his redemption. That's okay, but it's not interesting enough when it takes ALL SEASON for him to HIT BOTTOM and GET IT TOGETHER.
Tom has become a sniveling little rat. And Julia's struggles lead her to become a serious playwright. By the time they are putting aside their partnership, I am crying "good." And I don't care about Tom's career.
Not enough time is put into these characters' relationships with each other. Another spoilerish comment, a character dies, and the strongest scenes in that character are in the episode done as a post-mortem. The relationship's just sit there. We don't know enough about the play "Hit List," and are left to piece it together. So the show fails as a character piece and as a prism into Broadway. So many characters bed-hop without me caring about it. Like Tom's relationships. It seems like Sam is a completely different person. They don't let me get emotionally invested in their lives so when they break it off, I am left with no effect on it at all. It's as if I am reading the bible and it says "this character breaks up with this one." There's no one to root for.
We aren't given the good scenes of Julia's new draft of Bombshell to be invested in one version or the other. We aren't given the meat of "Hit List," so I think the second season moves from plot point to plot point and insider reference without me caring about either side of these things. Also, there is TOO MUCH flipping from one episode to another about the emotional plot points from one episode to the next. For instance, how Tom is a complete jerk one episode and then suddenly, he's the guy falling on the sword in the next episode by just saying that's what he's doing, and then the next episode he will just be back.
Anyway, I understand it wasn't perfect, but it was Must-See TV in my household. I wish it had a 3rd season.