As an avid Gilmore Girls fan, and well, former bunhead, I felt compelled, even excited to watch ABC Family's new comedy, Bunheads, created by Amy Sherman-Palladino. Now that I've watched the full season of aired episodes, I feel like I need to write just a little something about it.
On the whole, Bunheads was a disappointment to me. But I'm starting to notice that just about every dance-based TV show is always going to disappoint me. Because I hope for too much. I want it to be a view into my world of ballet - what I remember training being like - and it just doesn't happen...Though again (and I know I've said it a dozen times) I think the Australian show Dance Academy comes the closest to that, even though it's set on the other side of the planet.
Specifically, I liked Bunheads for it's witty dialogue and crazy characters, though it did feel like the whole show was essentially a remix of Gilmore Girls. It has many of the same actors, the same background music, the same small town wacky charm - It's so similar that I actually felt a bit cheated by it. Sure I love Gilmore Girls, but I wanted something more, something different. I wanted it to be more about ballet, and the true amount of dedication it requires, but as soon as I accepted that Bunheads really wasn't about ballet, I started to enjoy it more. I suppose I finally accepted it for what it is, which is not a show about dance. It's a show about people who happen to be involved with dance. And that is actually fine by me.
I like Sutton Foster and her performance as Michelle, the former ballerina gone vegas show girl. But again, she is essentially a reincarnation of Lorelei Gilmore. All awkward and funny, smart and beautiful. And of course, Kelly Bishop is brilliant as Fanny Flowers.
But I find that the show finally got interesting and found it's heart in the final episode, "Nutcracker in Paradise." Finally, we see some sort of real dilemma develop and the pain, the ambivalence and the passion that goes into teaching an art form is explored. The "O Captain My Captain" reference was great and I actually felt a twinge of recognition. Any time I've had to leave students that I've taught, and sometimes without being allowed to say goodbye (though I've never maced any of my students I swear) I've felt that moment....I've had a few occasions when leaving my students was really, really difficult and this episode resonated for me.
So in the end I'm actually looking forward to seeing what happens next for the Bunheads. I hope that future episodes can be a bit more dance focused, but even if they aren't, I guess I will always have a soft spot for that Gilmore Girl charm.
All images found here.